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Audition Guidelines – Carnegie Hill Orchestra

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 Carnegie Hill repertoire
  • Able to play in 4/4, 2/4 and 3/4; rhythmic patterns up to 16th notes, rests, and dotted rhythms; and knowledge of compound time and cut time
  • Comfort in executing triplets
  • Required Keys Able to play pieces and scales in major and minor keys up to three sharps and flats.
    • Violin, Viola, Cello – 2 octave scales and arpeggios
    • Bass –1 octave scales with arpeggios up to 3 sharps/flats, and 2 octave E major scale
    • Winds – 1 octave scales with arpeggios and 1 octave chromatic scale


Demonstrate understanding of good tone; articulations including asymmetrical slurs, legato, staccato, and various types of accents (sfz, >, ˈ); dynamics (ff – pp; crescendo & decrescendo);  accurate intonation; and basic understanding of musical terms


  •   Strings Demonstrated ability of basic bowing technique, comfort with spiccato, and basic understanding of vibrato.
    •            Violin & Viola –  Able to play through third position with good shifting habits and accurate intonation
    •            Cello – Able to play through fourth position with good shifting habits and accurate intonation
    •            Bass – Ability to cross strings in fourth position with good shifting habits and accurate intonation
  •   Winds – 2 octave range; able to execute phrases with appropriate breaths; ability to tongue and slur
  •   Brass – 1½ – 2 octave range; able to execute phrases with appropriate breaths; ability to tongue and slur
  •   Percussion – Must be ready to begin work on timpani and mallets.  
    •           SnareSeven basic rudiments (perform and sight-read), Right-hand lead sticking
    •           Cymbals Proper hold


As a broad guideline, successful candidates for the Carnegie Hill level should be working on repertoire that is equivalent to NYSSMA level 3 through level 4.  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.   At the Carnegie Hill level, students must be receiving private lessons in addition to ISO.