Audition for the Bachelor of Music

Auditioning before admission is granted into UCSB is a secondary application required for students applying for entrance into the Bachelor of Music (BM) programs only. However, students interested in the Bachelor of Art in Music Studies and/or taking lessons in a faculty studio are also welcome to audition to see if they will qualify for lessons in a faculty studio if space is available (an additional audition once at UCSB will be required, regardless if you audition in advance of admission).

Schedule a time to talk with the Undergraduate Advisor in Music to go through the application process, discuss your goals, or clarify what UCSB has to offer.

Watch our YouTube video where current students describe what it is like in the Department of Music at UCSB! Don't forget to subscribe! 

To Audition for the Bachelor of Music - Incoming Applicants to UCSB

Step 1

Apply to UCSB. 

If interested, we highly encourage you to choose the Bachelor of Music as your first choice major. If you do not pass your audition, you will have an opportunity to change your major. UC applications are due November 30. Once you've applied to the university, you can apply for entrance into the Bachelor of Music degree program. Admissions will be notified whether or not you qualify for the BM after your audition, but prior to your final admission decision.

Step 2

Fill out and Submit the BM Audition Interest Form. The form opens on or before August 1 and closes January 1. This form is short and indicates your interest in auditioning for our BM programs so we can commuicate with you specifically about your program of interest. If you plan to audition for entrance next fall, please submit the form asap.

Step 3

Applicants who have filled out the interest form in Step 2 will be emailed a link to submit a supplemental application and schedule an audition. Signups for individual slots will be available online via Signup Genius, typically in mid-November. Not all instruments are available on both days. If you plan to submit a recorded audition, instructions will be given to you on how to do so.

Step 4

Perform an audition according to the specific requirements for your chosen major preference. Anticipated live audition dates for 2022 are January 22 & 29th.


Auditioning for lessons only - for applicants applying to UCSB with the first-choice major as BA in Music Studies or other non-music majors

Students interested in the Bachelor of Art in Music Studies and/or taking lessons in a faculty studio are also welcome to audition using the process above to see if they will qualify for lessons in a faculty studio. Notifications about whether or not you might place in a studio, if room is available and after a second audition in Fall quarter, will be given to you at the same time notifications about eligibility for the Bachelor of Music are sent. Audition results may help you make a more informed decision about which college you ultimately choose. Please note that placement in a studio, even if deemed qualified, is not guaranteed for non-BM students. Auditions for studio placement (separate from qualifying auditions) will happen at the start of each Fall quarter.

UCSB offers beginning level voice, piano and composition courses. It is not necessary to audition in advance of arriving at UCSB for these classes. Auditions for new students happens during the pre-instruction activities week of Fall quarter. However, students are expected to know basic Music Fundamentals in order to enroll in these classes. Music 11, a passing score on the AP Music Theory exam, or passing out of Music 11 via the Music Theory and Musicianship exam are the three ways to meet this basic prerequisite.


When will my individual lessons (studio) instructor be assigned? 

During the first week of classes in Fall quarter. For studios with multiple faculty, an additional placement audition will happen during pre-instruction week.

Do I need to take placement exams? 

Yes, at the start of Fall quarter, in music theory and musicianship and also for class piano, even if you have no prior experience.

Does the Music Department make decisions on who will be admitted to UCSB?

No. The results of our auditions/composition portfolios and interviews only serve to assess undergraduate freshmen and transfer applicants musical suitability for the BM degree program. We do submit the results of our auditions to the Office of Admissions. All recommendations for degree emphasis are contingent on acceptance to the University of California by the Office of Admissions. Any other questions about this process should be directed to the Office of Admissions.

How long will my audition last?

Audition times vary by instrument and may last  between 5 and 30 minutes, depending on the instrument, the repertoire presented for the audition and committee preferences. Some auditions are in a mini-lesson/audition format so the instructor and you will get a chance to know eachother better. Others are more formal auditions where you enter in, perform your pieces and answer any questions. It is possible that instrumentalists and vocalists will be asked to stop before a work is finished and be asked to move on to another work. Time limits must be observed in order to give each prospective student appropriate time to audition.

May I play my own pieces (composed by myself) for the audition?

Normally, the Faculty will wish to hear the required repertoire pieces listed for the audition. You may offer your own composition “IN ADDITION TO” the required repertoire; but not “INSTEAD OF“ and may be allowed on a time-available basis. Time can be very limited for certain programs, especially Strings, Piano and Voice, and it is not recommend that you spend time preparing excess material for these auditions.

Is it possible to double major in music with another discipline?

Yes. The BA tends to lend itself more easily to those wishing to pursue a double major. It is also possible with the BM, though careful planning from the beginning is essential. Once you are enrolled at UCSB, you can change your major completely, or add a double major, as early as Spring quarter of your first year. Talk to the undergraduate advisors in both deparments to start. For Transfer students, double-majoring may be more difficult, depending on preparation work completed. Please view the Applying as a Transfer section to see what preparation work is recommended prior to attending UCSB.

Is there a minor in music?

Yes, there is a Music Minor option. The Music Minor requirements may be viewed here. You do not need to audition to be a music minor. We recommend Music 11 as the first class. If you have taken AP Music Theory and passed, this may count as equivalent to Music 11. We also offer a Theory and Placement exam at the beginning of each Fall quarter. To declare the minor, stop in the undergraduate advising office, or email the undergraduate advisor with your PERM number and a request to add the minor. This can only be done once you are enrolled at UCSB.

May I participate in ensembles without being a music major?

Yes, each year we have many students who are studying in other majors across the University, and who participate in many of our Music Department ensembles. A list of ensembles and their audition requirements can be viewed in the Ensembles section. Contact the faculty, or review the information provided on the webpage to get information on how to audition for the ensemble.

Can I take lessons or major in saxophone, guitar or harp?

Currently, we do not offer private instruction or majors in harp, saxophone or guitar, we do offer some beginning instrumental instruction in jarana jarocha (MUS A 70Z/170Z). UCSB's Rec Cen also offers some guitar and mandolin lessons for a fee. We also offer lessons (starting Winter quarter only) in the sitar (MUS 22D) and oud (MUS22O), which may be of interest to you if you like guitar.

Are scholarships available from the Department of Music?

Yes, each year the Department of Music awards limited scholarships (typically $1,000 per year)  to incoming students majoring in Music based on the results of their audition. Scholarship awards from the Department of Music are limited to students who have declared and maintain a “Music Major” as their degree plan emphasis. Other scholarships may be available to particular studios, and studio teachers will advise students on these opportunitites.

Are practice rooms with pianos available to anyone who wants to practice?

No. Music Department rooms are ONLY for UCSB students enrolled in Music Department ensembles or lessons (no exceptions). To arrange for access, please make an appointment with Connor Long, by emailing, or stop by Music 1251 M-W from 1:30 - 2:30 for key hours. A $40 deposit is required, checks or money order (available at the Post Office in the UCen) only, made out to UC Regents is required at the time of your key appointment.

Lessons and Ensembles include: Music 8, 20-33, 88, A34 through A70AA-ZZ*, 108, 120-133, A134 through A170AA-ZZ* and graduate level performance classes.

If you need a room to warm up for an audition for a Music Department lesson or ensemble, please stop by the Music office (1300's) during office hours to inquire if a space is available. Once you are accepted into a lesson or ensemble, you will need to arrange for your own key.

What is the difference between the BM, Composition (within the Music Department) and the College of Creative Studies (CCS) BA, Composition Programs?

The main differences relate to the type of composition students would like to pursue. The Music Department is guided towards more contemporary classical tradition. Students learn classical repertoire techniques (orchestration, harmony, 20h century techniques, etc.), as well as contemporary techniques. For those who wish, there is also a section on electronic music and a visual music section will come up in the future. CCS is guided towards experimental music. Besides composition, you also have improvisation, multimedia, song writing. The degree is very open in its structure, so the student has many possibilities of choices. They both rely on practical composition. Research is an option that the student can decide to pursue and that reflects in the chosen courses. Music Department and CCS have the same core class requirements, but there is more flexibility with other requirements within the degree at CCS. For instance, a class taught in CCS on theme & variation could count as a replacement for the counterpoint class required of the BM. CCS still teaches contemporary composition and notated music as the focus of the degree, but your senior recital can be quite flexible as long as it is approved by faculty.


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