For nearly 100 years, we have helped mold exceptional musical artists for the contemporary world. Our small class sizes (averaging 8-11 per music class) and caring faculty mean you are heard. And our comprehensive musical education, including twelve wide-ranging undergraduate programs and specific-focus graduate programs led by artist/teachers, provides enlightenment and advancement for serious musicians.

music students

Audition Dates for 2020-21 Academic Year

music students
Friday, November 6, 2020 Saturday, February 20, 2021
Friday, December 4, 2020 Friday, February 26, 2021
Friday, February 5, 2021 Friday, April 16, 2021
Friday, February 19, 2021 Friday, May 28, 2021

Connect with the Department of Music

This list is a sample of the kind of questions you might ask a college admissions counselor or faculty member in a music department. There are no single right answers. There are just answers. The responses you get should tell you the nature and shape and scope of the program as you consider your options.

You should feel comfortable asking a variety of people these questions to get the information you need. The choosing of a university and a music program should focus on one that will suit your needs best. Music programs in the United States combine applied lessons, academic studies in music theory and history, ensemble participation, and performance studies in one large, comprehensive major. These questions should help you tease out details about how a university manages all of these areas.

Have fun as you undertake this search!

  • Is the degree a BA, a BS, and/or a BM? Do you have a graduate program?
  • What majors are offered? How many majors in music?
  • How many resident students on campus? How many commuters? How many full-­‐time faculty members do you have?
  • How many teach history and theory? How many teach performance?
  • How large will my freshman music theory class be? Do you have a list of current activities of your alums?
  • May I talk with students in the department about the program?
  • What kind of non-­‐departmental performance opportunities will I have? Tell me about departmental performance ensembles.
  • How many semesters of applied lessons are required for my intended major? How is required piano managed? Lessons? Class piano?
  • How many semesters of music theory and music history are required for my intended major?

On-campus auditions are the most valuable for both auditioning students (you!) and Webster University (us!).

At the audition, you are heard and interviewed by professors appropriate to your primary instrument or program of study. You also take a music theory placement exam and complete a piano placement exam. You also undertake a brief pitch memory and sight-reading exercise. Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from a music instructor. Graduate students take entrance exams so we may assess your undergraduate training and readiness for advanced study.

Since applied music studies form one of the core portions of a music degree, all students audition on a primary instrument (or voice). Much of the admission decision is based on this audition.

Composition (BM, MM)

Students present a portfolio of scores in various styles as well as recordings of the works from performances or electronic realizations, if possible. Scores should be formatted using a standard notation software program such as Finale or Sibelius. Applicants also perform on their major instrument. Follow the guidelines for vocal, piano/organ, instrumental or jazz studies.

Composition (Songwriting) (BM)

Students perform two original songs, usually as a singer at the piano, or a singer with a guitar. Applicants bring along lead sheets, which should be formatted using a standard notation software program such as Finale or Sibelius. We will also wish to review three further lead sheets for other songs you have composed.

Instrumental (BM, MM) and Orchestral Performance (MM)

Undergraduate students present three works, preferably from a concerto, etude or sonata. Selections should demonstrate technical facility, musicality, tone quality and phrasing. MM/Orchestral Performance applicants should also prepare excerpts from the standard symphonic repertoire.

Jazz Studies (BM/Performance; BM/Music Technology; MM/Performance)

Instrumentalists present three works: such as a blues; a standard by Ellington, Gershwin, Porter or similar composer; or an original or contemporary work from memory to demonstrate improvisation skills. Vocalists should perform three standards from the jazz repertoire from memory. Scat singing may be requested of vocalists. Graduate applicants perform four works from memory from the above categories. All students must demonstrate knowledge of basic scales and chord symbols. Drum set applicants will demonstrate an understanding of swing, Latin, fusion and other styles. A brief sight-reading demonstration may be required.

Music Direction for Musical Theatre (BM)

Students sing or play two Broadway standards. Singing and playing at the same time is even better. We do not wish to hear a prospective music director singing in belt voice. The audition will include sightreading of Broadway songs from various eras and genres.

Music Education (BMEd)

Students follow the guidelines provided for auditions in piano, vocal or instrumental performance or jazz studies.

Piano or Organ (BM, MM)

Piano and organ students present a minimum of three works, performed from memory, in contrasting styles. Two selections must be from the Baroque, Classical or Romantic periods. The third work should be from the Impressionist or contemporary periods.

Voice (BM, MM)

First-year students present three songs from memory, in classical styles with at least one work in an international language. Sophomore students follow freshman guidelines, but prepare at least two songs in an international language. Junior students should prepare four works, including an aria, in contrasting languages and styles. Graduate students submit previous recital programs and will be assessed on knowledge of repertoire, diction, and language phonetics. Graduate applicants perform five works, including oratorio/opera arias and songs from the classical repertoire in four languages. Applicants may be asked to sight-sing or vocalize to assess pitch perception and tone production.

NOTE: Musical Theatre and Vocal Performance are two different programs. Musical Theatre is housed in the Department of Theatre and requires a separate audition.

Bachelor Of Arts (BA)

In this degree which is designed for students who wish a double major outside of music, students should follow the guidelines for their primary instrument/interest listed previously.

Master Of Arts (MA)

Students should follow the guidelines for their primary instrument/interest as listed on this page.

Church Music (MM)

Students present a minimum of three works in contrasting styles from the classical or sacred repertoire for piano, voice or organ as a major instrument. If piano or organ is not the major instrument, a demonstration of keyboard skills is required.

Audition Procedures

General Information

If you intend to major or minor as an undergraduate student at Webster University, you must complete an audition as part of your application. We recommend that students apply for academic admission before auditioning.

Auditions are held several times each semester for all areas of study:

Collaborative Piano Instrumental Performance Music Technology
Composition Jazz Studies (Instrumental or Vocal)
Piano or Organ Performance
Composition (Songwriting)
Music Direction for Musical Theatre
Voice Performance

General music studies

Music Education

In addition to the auditions, these days include other activities for students and parents. These include campus tours, an admission/financial aid presentation, class observation, and departmental overviews.

Students auditioning for admission and scholarships must follow general guidelines. This audition is for admission only to the Department of Music. You also must apply to and be accepted by the university.

Audition Guidelines

General Guidelines. Prepare two or three works that best represent your musical and technical abilities. The music on your state adjudicated contest list is the kind of music we wish to hear at audition.

Even if you play multiple instruments well, or sing and play an instrument well, we ask that you audition on your strongest instrument -- and in particular, the instrument (or voice) on which you would wish to give a senior recital. Audition performance time is generally limited to 7 minutes per student. Faculty members of the area in which you audition will serve as the audition committee for your performance. For example, if you perform a trumpet audition, members from the brass faculty will hear you play. As a general rule, the most important thing is for you to play or sing two contrasting selections that you perform well.

Memorized performance is required for voice auditions, and encouraged for piano auditions. You should also be ready to demonstrate ability to perform scales if we ask, and you may be asked to sight-read a short selection.

Most students will audition with music similar to that on the state solo and ensemble contest list. Music of this style and substance is appropriate for an audition.

Specific audition requirements vary by instrument and program.

Jazz students. All jazz majors audition on their primary jazz instrument. Please prepare three excerpts: one of a blues tune, one of a standard, and a final excerpt of an additional standard in a contrasting rhythmic feel. You will also be asked to improvise and sight-read. Piano and guitar students will be asked to accompany as well. Drummers should demonstrate a number of different rhythmic patterns and styles.

Composition students. In addition to auditioning on a performance instrument or on voice, composition students present a portfolio of two or three compositions that show a range of musical interests. Portfolios should include recordings and notated scores. Computer-generated recordings are acceptable. Please email your portfolios to Prof. Kim Portnoy and Dr. David Werfelmann.

Songwriting students. You are in a special category. Please sing (and play on guitar or piano) a couple of your best compositions. We are listening for musical substance, originality, and ease and comfort on stage. You also need to bring along a lead sheet for the two songs you will perform, and at least three other songs. The lead sheet should include, at a minimum, the melody line with lyrics and chord symbols. We prefer that this be generated in a music notation software program, rather by hand.

Music Directing students. You likewise are in a special category.  Please play (and sing, if possible) two contrasting Broadway standards.  One piece should be Golden Era, and other from contemporary musical theatre or post-millennial musical theatre literature.  You will also sight-read as if you are playing as a hired accompanist for a company's auditions.  

Accompanist. For singers and orchestral instrument performers, the university provides a highly qualified accompanist for your audition, so you need not travel with your own accompanist. You must bring music for the staff accompanist, with any cuts or directions clearly marked. NOTE: students auditioning on orchestral instruments should let us know at least two weeks in advance that you will require an accompanist. Many times you have not rehearsed or prepared with the accompaniment, so we do not automatically assign a pianist unless you request!

Webster welcomes transfer students! We often audition students from junior colleges, and students who are changing majors and deciding to attend Webster for music study.

No matter your story, we work with you to determine the right theory and performance placement. We meet with you one-on-one so that course transfer is as seamless as possible.

We've found through years of experience that the easiest transfers are ones that have been discussed in advance, so we urge a discussion early in your college life to help you plan the next few semesters prior to auditioning at Webster.

For the actual audition, transfer students follow the same guidelines as first-time freshmen.

Further questions about transfer and audition requirements are answered by Dr. Carla Colletti, Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Music. Contact Dr. Colletti by email.

Webster offers the Master of Arts degree in music and the Master of Music degree. 

Students must complete a minimum of 32 hours of graduate credit regardless of the chosen emphasis.

To be accepted for graduate study in music at Webster, a student must meet these criteria:

  1. An undergraduate GPA of 2.5 in music courses
  2. Completion of at least 30 undergraduate semester hours in music
  3. Completion of prerequisites for Webster's graduate courses
  4. Successful demonstration of knowledge as demonstrated in entrance examinations appropriate to the proposed area of concentration.

Please contact the Department of Music at the Webster Groves campus by phone (314) 968-7032 to request more information, or to schedule an entrance examination and audition. Graduate student auditions are separate from undergraduate auditions.

Audition Procedures

Audition literature requirements are listed above on this page. All graduate music auditions are scheduled on an individual basis.

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