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Audition Guidelines – Concert Orchestra & Wind Symphony

Students will be asked for scales, their prepared repertoire and to sight-read.  Adjudicators will place each musician in the appropriate ensemble based on the level of playing at the audition. 

The following information is provided for students and teachers as a general guide to the level of musicianship essential for each ensemble.  The applicant’s prepared piece should be one that is an accurate representation of their technical and artistic ability.  Remember, it is not what you play that matters most, but how well you play it. 

If you have any questions regarding repertoire, the auditions or ensembles, please contact a member of the ISO staff.  We are here to make sure that this is a positive and successful experience for everyone.


  • Ability to sight read music representative of Concert Orchestra repertoire
  • Able to play in all time signatures
  • Comfort in executing tuples through septuplets
  •  Required Keys – Able to play scales and pieces in major and minor keys up to five sharps and flats.
    •  Strings: 3 octave scales with arpeggios
    •  Winds: 2 octave scales with arpeggios


Demonstrate good tone production, full range of dynamics, full range of articulations,  accurate intonation, and understanding of musical terms


  • Strings – Ability to play through 5th position, demonstrate vibrato and advanced bow technique
  • Winds – Play in 2 ½ octave range; use of multiple articulations; flutes double tongue; bassoon should have knowledge of tenor clef.
  • Brass – Play in 2 ½ octave range; trumpet and horn demonstrated knowledge of transposition; trombone should have knowledge of tenor clef
  • Percussion  – Prior experience in band/orchestra and with cymbals, triangle, and bass drum; advanced snare drum and good timpani technique; ability to tune timpani


As a broad guideline, successful candidates for the Concert Orchestra and Wind Symphony level should be working on repertoire that is equivalent to NYSSMA level 4 through level 5.  Please note that just by preparing a piece in this range does not guarantee entrance into the ensemble.  The piece needs to be well prepared and must demonstrate the technical demands listed above.   Students must be receiving private lessons to participate in Concert Orchestra or Band.