Frequently Asked Questions

SYO Membership

Scholarships and Regional Membership
Can I be a part of SYO if I am not based in Sydney?

SYO is pleased to welcome young musicians who would like to be part of our program and are based in Regional NSW.

A tailored hybrid rehearsal schedule, including a flexible attendance plan and contribution discounts are designed to remove geographical barriers to participation.

To be classified a regional musician you must live over 200km from the Sydney CBD.

Please contact SYO at [email protected] to discuss this further before applying.

Can I apply for a scholarship?

Scholarships for our weekly orchestral program are available to support young musicians and their families who face financial hardship or circumstances that would otherwise prevent them from joining SYO.

Read more about our scholarships here.

How do I apply for a scholarship?

Applicants may elect to be considered for financial assistance at the time of completing an audition application. A scholarship application form will then be sent to these musicians.

Please note that for an application to be valid, all requested questions must be answered and attachments/evidence provided.

When are scholarship results announced?

Scholarship results are announced on the same day as audition results.

Any received scholarship value will be reflected directly on your enrolment form.

General Membership Questions
Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID 19?

SYO’s COVID Safe Policy highly recommends participants in face-to-face activities be up to date with their COVID-19 Vaccinations.

Read more about our COVID Safety Policies.

What are the weekly commitment expectations?

With limited and highly sought-after places each year, it is a significant achievement to be offered a position with SYO.

Successful applicants must commit to attending weekly rehearsals for their orchestra for the full year.

This is an annual program of learning and development.

Musicians are occasionally required to participate in extra rehearsals or workshops outside scheduled rehearsal times. 

Members of The Sydney Youth Orchestra will have a program-based schedule to be advised at enrolment, which may involve shorter, intensive rehearsal periods based around tertiary and pre-professional schedules.

Any SYO musician with insufficient attendance and participation may jeopardise their position in the program.

When and where are weekly rehearsals?

Rehearsals take place at:

SYO Strings - Strathfield, on Saturdays

SYO Symphonic - Haymarket, on Saturdays and Sundays (orchestra dependant)

Western Sydney Youth Orchestra - Granville, Tuesday Nights 

The SYO - Haymarket (program based)

Auditioning for SYO

Preparing for an SYO Audition

How do I apply?

Audition applications are now done online and auditions are now via a video submission. Visit our Join page to out more information.

What is the cost of auditioning?

Please see our Participation Fees page for information.

The non-refundable audition fee is payable at the time of your audition application and contribute to the booking of professional panellists, venue hire and administration for your audition. 

I have already auditioned before. Why is it necessary to audition again each year?

Like all state-based youth orchestras in Australia, SYO auditions 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.


As a training organisation, auditions are a key part of becoming a professional musician and as such we aim to prepare our musicians for this experience.


There are two main reasons that we audition each year:


  1.  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 ensemble who are ready to face the challenges of another ensemble and some who will benefit more from continuing with their current group.


  2.  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. 

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. 

Which level should I audition for?

Current SYO members are encouraged to audition for the stage or ensemble the next level up from their current placement. However, please keep in mind that the majority of applicants spend at least 2 years in the same ensemble before progressing to the next ensemble.

Based on your audition video, our team of experienced panellists will then determine whether you are ready to advance, or whether it would be beneficial for you to remain in your current placement. 

For new applicants, please visit our Which Orchestra Is Right For Me? page and consult with your instrumental teacher prior to applying.

Can I change my Orchestra Preference after applying?

If you applied and have a change of preference afterwards, please contact the SYO Team on [email protected]

There is no need to submit a new application. 

Can I be considered for multiple orchestras in my application?

Yes, but only for the same instrument.

When applying for an orchestra, you are also automatically being considered for all other applicable groups below.

This means that if the panel assesses you are not quite ready for your orchestra preference, you will be considered for other orchestras at a similar or lower standard and offered a spot there (depending on availability).

If you would like to apply on a different instrument, please see the ‘What if I want to audition on two instruments?’ section below. 

What if I want to audition on two instruments?

As part of SYO’s Endangered Instrument Program, applicants who undertake a second audition on either viola, double bass or bassoon are granted this second audition free of charge.

You can indicate if you are auditioning for one of these on your form.

Please select the non-endangered instrument first and then include the endangered instrument in the application.

For more information about the endangered instruments program, see here 

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 Audition Excerpts.

Please contact us via [email protected] if you completed your application and have not received your excerpts e-mail.

Be sure to check your spam/junk mail if you do not receive your excerpts immediately, as they may have been delivered there. 

What should I do in preparation for my audition?

Always read the audition excerpt cover sheet very carefully for full instructions.

SYO also suggests taking your excerpts to your tutor and ask for their advice on preparation and own choice piece selection.

Be sure to check your junk mail if you do not receive your excerpts immediately. 

I requested a late audition, what happens next?

Late auditions spots are limited and reserved for musicians undertaking their HSC in 2023 or going through exceptional circumstances.

If you are doing your HSC in 2023 and have requested a late audition date, you will have a later video submission date, which will be confirmed via email on Thursday 14th September.

Late audition requests for other reasons cannot be guaranteed but will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will be confirmed or declined via email on Thursday 14th September.

If you are not approved for a late submission date, your video submission date remains Wednesday 25th October.

What is an “endangered instrument”?

An “endangered instrument” is any uncommon instrument that is in high demand within orchestras – not only at SYO, but within tertiary and professional orchestras around Australia.

It can be difficult to find the right number of musicians for certain instruments such as violas, bassoons, double basses, low brass (trombone, euphonium, tuba) and percussion.

This also means that we need to restrict the number of violin or flute players that we can accept, or otherwise the whole orchestra will be unbalanced.

Musicians who play these instruments will often find that they are placed on an accelerated track through the SYO program due to the demand for these instrumentalists.

Dependent upon the instrument, SYO can help you transition to one of these endangered instruments, by offering:

  • A free audition to this new instrument when auditioning for your current instrument
  • Loaning* you an instrument for a period of six months
  • Connecting you to a tutor

* dependent on availability

Recording your SYO Audition

What video formats are acceptable for submission?

Any video format is acceptable.

These include: MP4, MPEG-4, MOV and WMV.

If we have difficulty playing your file, we may contact you requesting a resubmission.

What device should I use to record my audition?

You can record yourself using a wide range of devices — video camera, laptop, or a webcam on your desktop computer.

The simplest, though, is just use a smartphone.

Many phones have excellent video and audio quality that are more than acceptable for your video audition.

No need to get fancy — the panel aren’t expecting the highest professional quality video, just a decent recording of your playing.

How should I set up my recording device?

Once you’ve settled on a time and place to record, you need to set up your recording device. 

  • Make sure that your camera/phone is resting on a stable surface—you don’t want to ruin a great take with a falling camera! If you don’t have a phone tripod, don’t worry—most people don’t. Just get creative. You can use books, or pillows, or even another music stand to prop up your device and make sure you’re getting the right shot. Also be sure that you’re not covering your microphone and do plenty of test runs to ensure everything looks and sounds great! 

  • Try to place your recording device at least 2-3 metres away for better audio quality. If that’s not possible in your space, place it as far as away as you can.

  • Whether you are sitting or standing, your upper body should be included in the shot. This helps the panel assess your technique and posture. For the purposes of the audition, you want to make sure that the panel can see everything that you’re doing. 

Can I edit my audition video together?


Your audition must be filmed in one continuous shot.

You must play all elements of your audition (Excerpts, Scales/Arpeggios, Own Choice Piece) in one continuous shot with no sound or video editing.

Any detection of tampering will result in your audition
not being assessed. 

Where should I record?

An important part of recording a good audition video is preparing your recording space.

Some things to keep in mind when picking a space to record:

  • Try to pick the largest space available to you, like a living room or dining room.

  • Choose a time when the space will be quiet for at least an hour. Since you’ll most likely be recording your video at home, it’s a good idea to talk with your family ahead of time and pick a time when things will be relatively quiet.

  • Consider making a sign to remind your family that you’re recording so that they don’t interrupt. This will help remind them that you’re doing important work! 

  • Try and record in front of a blank wall in a tidy room that has minimal distractions. Cleaning up the space will help prepare you to perform well and will also give your audition panel a more professional impression.

  • Ensure that the room is well-lit. You need to see your music and the panel need to see you! Turn on lamps (bring in extras from another room, if necessary). Avoid back-lighting (where a bright light source behind you turns you into a silhouette on camera) by placing bright lights/windows behind the camera, not behind you. 

Can I have an accompanist or other people in my video?


The excerpts provided do not require an accompanist.

You should also choose a solo excerpt that is able to be performed unaccompanied.

Any detection of an accompanist or teacher/guardian playing or singing alongside an auditionee will result in your audition not being assessed

Should I be sitting or standing?

This is up to you and what instrument you play!

However, we find that for instruments that you can play while standing up, playing upright better displays your posture and technique.

I do not have a device I can record my video audition on. What should I do?

SYO is committed to ensuring everyone can get the assistance they need to record a video audition.

If you do not have a
device you can record your audition on, please contact SYO Staff on
[email protected] so we can assist you with your audition arrangements.

Tips for recording a video audition

What you’ll need for a great video audition:

  • Quiet space

  • Music stand/something to put your music on

  • Your audition excerpts and own choice piece sheet music 

  • Video recording device 

  • Your instrument! 
Submitting your SYO Audition

How do I submit my video audition?

A personalised submission link will be sent to applicants shortly after applying.

Do not leave uploading your audition to the very last minute!

Uploading a video can take several hours.

Please practice recording your audition a few times prior to the audition submission date to get it just right.

SYO may not accept late submissions without prior-approval.

Can I change my video audition submission date?

In most circumstances, no.

Auditions scheduling is extremely onerous for SYO to schedule over 900 audition viewings with relevant panellists.

We provide exemptions for health (with a medical certificate) and extenuating circumstances, which must be communicated to SYO to be assessed individually.

If you miss your submission deadline 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 if you still wish to be considered.

How should I name my video file?

SYO deals with over 800 video auditions each year.

To ensure we get your video audition to the correct panel, we request your video file be named according to this rule:


Here are some examples:



My video is taking too long to upload, what can I do?

Try uploading your video overnight or at times when there is less internet traffic.

If you are still unable to upload your video, you can try compressing your file using services like:


Please let SYO know if you are experiencing technical difficulties and we are happy to assist.

Can I re-submit my video audition?

If you are unhappy with your original submission and it is before the submission deadline then yes, you may re-submit.

If this affects you, please email SYO staff at
[email protected].

You may not re-submit after the submission deadline.

I missed the video submission deadline, what should I do?

Please contact the SYO Team on [email protected] to discuss your individual case.

What happens to my video after it is submitted?

After your video is submitted it will be sent to our panel for assessment.

Your video will not be shared with anyone else and will only be kept in our system
as long as needed for assessment purposes.

Audition Assessment and Offers

Do I get any feedback on my 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/guardians 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.

Are AMEB grades taken into consideration?


The audition panel places auditionees based on their playing ability as demonstrated in their video audition only, not their AMEB or Suzuki grades. 

Grades are used as guide only to assist auditionees in selecting the most appropriate 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.

How is the seating and section worked out?

The audition panel will make seating recommendations after watching all videos.

There is no compelling musical reason to place players from strongest to weakest – in fact, just the opposite.

In SYO, players are often rotated around different sections throughout the year and
, in particular, this notion is encouraged in our younger ensembles.

Musicians learn to play next to different players,
and also learn the importance of different roles that make up an orchestra of equally valuable sections.

Is everyone who auditions for SYO offered a position?

Because of the way SYO is structured, we are usually able to offer a position to most string players who audition, however this will not necessarily be in the ensemble for which you applied.

Based on your performance in your audition, the SYO audition panel will allocate you a position within the ensemble that will be most beneficial for you, and allow you to work with other musicians of a similar standard and experience.

For wind, brass and percussion, positions can be much more competitive, particularly for The SYO and SYO Philharmonic, as there are a limited number of positions for each instrument within these orchestras.

For example, in 2018, SYO had over 65 flautists audition for 23 spots across the full program.

Some musicians may be offered a ‘reserve’ result, which means that an offer could not be made due to limited places in a particular orchestra being offered to other auditionees, however a ‘reserve’ player may be offered a position if someone else declines a place.

Does our main program not sound like the right fit for you?
SYO offers a range of open holiday programs that do not require auditioning or membership to attend.

Holiday and Open Programs

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