Audition FAQs

What should I do in preparation for my audition?

For most SYO auditions you will be expected to play a short piece of your own choice, a set number of orchestral excerpts depending on your instrument and preferred ensemble, as well technical work (scales, arpeggios, etc.) and sight-reading. Please read our 2018 Auditions Tips about how best to prepare for your audition, and for things to remember on the day!

Which ensemble should I audition for?

It is expected all SYO members will spend two years in an ensemble before advancing to the next orchestra. It is expected that you apply to audition for the ensemble most immediately above your own. This is to ensure you are auditioning on excerpts that cater for your abilities. Choose to audition on material you can play confidently and comfortably. This is how you will really shine in an audition. For new applicants, it is a little harder for us to guide you. Please look at the standards listed on the orchestra pages, and please feel free to ask us if you are still unsure and we will do our best to assist you. Please also ask your teacher for advice as they will be able to help decide which ensemble is best for you.

How long is the audition?

Auditions are 5-7 minutes long.

Can I bring an accompanist to the audition?


What should I choose for the piece of my own choice?

This should be a 1-2 minutes piece (or a 1-2 minute passage from a longer piece) that best displays your musicality and technical proficiency. It is strongly advised that this piece be from within an examination syllabus such as AMEB, Trinity College London or ABRSM. You are also encouraged to choose something you are familiar with and can perform comfortably under pressure and without an accompanist.

Do I get to play my whole own choice piece?

Sometimes an audition panel may wish to hear a particular passage, or may stop you halfway through your piece. This does not mean that you have played badly or ‘failed’ the audition. It simply means that the panel has heard enough of your playing to help them make their decision.

When will I receive my orchestral excerpts?

Once your audition application and fee has been processed you will receive an email with a link to your 2018 Audition Excerpts.

Are AMEB grades taken into consideration?

The audition panel places auditionees on the basis of their playing ability as demonstrated in their audition only. AMEB grades are used as a commonly-understood standard of playing to assist auditionees in selecting the right ensemble to audition for. Auditionees do not need to have passed exams to gain a position – nor does having passed an exam guarantee a player a position.

What if I want to audition on two instruments?

If your second instrument is auxiliary like piccolo or bass clarinet, you will not be required to audition for a separate audition panel and so will not be required to pay a second audition fee. If you are auditioning on two different instruments eg. violin and oboe, you will be auditioning in front of two different panels on different excerpts and so you will be required to pay two audition fees.

Where will the auditions be held?

This information will be confirmed closer to the day of the audition. 

What is the cost of the audition?

All existing SYO members re-applying for 2018 will be charged a $50.00 audition fee. Applicants new to SYO will be charged a $60.00 audition fee. These fees are payable at the time of your audition application and contribute to the booking of professional panelists, venue hire and administration for your audition.

Why is it necessary to audition each year?

Like all state-based youth orchestras in Australia, we audition all players each year on a competitive basis. Competitive auditions are the accepted method of equitably assessing an orchestra’s members and ensuring that players of similar ability are placed together. There are two main reasons that we audition each year: –  Individual players progress at different rates. Placements are based on playing ability in the context of all auditionees, not on membership length. Each year there will be some players from an orchestra who are ready to face the challenges of another ensemble and there are those who will benefit more from continuing with their current group. – There are new members auditioning for Sydney Youth Orchestras each year. By hearing all players, new and existing, auditioning for an orchestra, we can be sure that our standards are high, and that placement is fair and appropriate for everyone. This provides balance within each ensemble and maximum benefit for its members.

Can I apply for a scholarship in 2018?

Yes! SYO, with the very generous support of the SYO Foundation and many private donors, will provide a number of full or partial scholarships in 2018. These scholarships will support young musicians and their families who face financial hardship or circumstances that would otherwise prevent them from joining SYO to receive the unparalleled orchestral training, personal and career development that its programs offer. To receive more information and a scholarship form, be sure to check the appropriate box on your online audition application.

Is any consideration given to existing members when they compete with new members?

Sydney Youth Orchestras’ policy states that if there are two players of the same standard competing for a place and one is an existing member, preference is given to that member. However, if the new member auditions at a higher standard than the existing member, this does not apply.

How is the seating and section worked out?

The audition panel will make seating recommendations at the time of audition, which are adjusted when positions are accepted. There is no compelling musical reason to place players from strongest to weakest – in fact just the opposite. In the SYO we often rotate players around, and in the younger orchestras this is encouraged. Conductors of the string orchestras may choose to do so, in order to provide the experience of sitting in different positions. Players learn to play next to different players, and also learn that an orchestra is made up of equally valuable sections, not just the 1st violins.

Can I change my audition time or date?

Unless you are ill or have an exam, no. We have over 800 people to audition in a very short time. Professional musicians are engaged for audition panels and have limited availability. Dates and times are set so that auditionees will perform to the most appropriate panel. If you have an exam scheduled on the day of your audition, you must notify us as soon as you are aware of the clash. Written evidence is required to change your audition date or time for either reason. If you miss your audition without one of these reasons, or without providing written evidence (i.e. medical certificate), you will be considered to have forfeited your audition and you must contact SYO to arrange another audition.


All information gained through the audition process is private and confidential. Sydney Youth Orchestras will not enter into a conversation that concerns an applicant’s audition results with the applicant, their parents or teachers. This mirrors the audition processes in the music profession and Sydney Youth Orchestras strives to prepare musicians for the reality of professional audition and performance standards and procedures.