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Audition Guidelines – Beginner Orchestras

Morningside, Trinity-Florentine, Queens East, and Turtle Bay Orchestras

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 read rhythms and contour of the line
  • Play in 4/4, 2/4, 3/4
  • Begin to read and understand rhythmic patterns up to 16th notes, rests, and dotted rhythms
  • Begin to read and understand rhythmic patterns up to 16th notes, rests, and dotted rhythms
  • Able to play pieces and 1 octave scales in:
    •          Strings:  C, G, D, and F Major (recommended)  (violins – 2 octave G scale suggested)
    •          Winds/Brass:  at least 3 major keys


Demonstrate basic understanding of good tone; articulations including slurs, legato, and staccato; loud and soft dynamics; and good intonation.


  •  Strings First position (ready to begin, or starting 3rd position for 1st violins), is playing on all four strings, and demonstrates understanding of détaché, staccato, slurs  and accents
  •  Winds – At least 1½ octave range, 1st Clarinet must be able to play over the break
  •  Brass – At least one octave range
  •  Percussion Basic snare, bass drum and triangle ability.  Understanding of matched and/or traditional grip

Student’s ability level should be equivalent to at least one year of playing and is able to read music. Student should also be receiving instruction in addition to ISO, such as a private teacher, school music program, or preferably both.