Audition FAQs

Which ensemble should I audition for?

When and where are rehearsals?

What should I do in preparation for my audition?

Which ensemble should I audition for?

How long is the audition?

Can I bring an accompanist to the audition?

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

Do I get to play my whole own choice piece?

When will I receive my orchestral excerpts?

Are AMEB grades taken into consideration?

What if I want to audition on two instruments?

Where will the auditions be held?

What is the cost of the audition?

Why is it necessary to audition each year?

Can I apply for a scholarship?

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

How is the seating and section worked out?

Is everyone who auditions for SYO offered a position?

Can I change my audition time or date?

What is an ‘endangered instrument’?

Do I get any feedback on my audition?


Which ensemble should I audition for?

There are 12 different ensembles in the weekly program. Our Orchestral Fundamentals Program caters for string players beginning at AMEB grade 1 or equivalent and our Symphonic Orchestral Program caters for string, brass, woodwind and percussion players beginning at AMEB grade 5 or equivalent. Our most senior orchestra is The Sydney Youth Orchestra which is for musicians who are AMEB AMusA minimum standard or equivalent, To find out which ensemble is best for you read our 2019 Auditions Brochure or take this quiz.

If none of the orchestras are right for you, you might want to come to our 2019 Summer School. Registrations open on October 1 and you can fill out this Expression of Interest form to stay up-to-date.


When and where are rehearsals?

Rehearsals take place at Santa Sabina College, Strathfield on Saturdays and Sundays, and at 404 Studios Parramatta on Monday evenings.

SATURDAY
9:00-9:45        SYO Theory Program
10:00- 12:30    Stage 1
                     Stage 2
12:00-12:45     SYO Theory Program
12:45-16:00     Stage 3
                      Stage 4
                      Peter Seymour Orchestra
                      Symphonic Wind Orchestra
SUNDAY
10:00-14:30     The Sydney Youth Orchestra
15:00-18:00     SYO Philharmonic
MONDAY
17:30-20:30     Western Sydney Youth Orchestra


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 Auditions Tips about how best to prepare for your audition, and for things to remember on the day. If you decide to audition, please read the audition excerpt cover sheet very carefully for further instruction. 


Which ensemble should I audition for?

It is most common for SYO members to spend two years in an ensemble before progressing to the next ensemble.  SYO members are encouraged to audition for the ensemble most immediately above their current ensemble. This is to ensure you are auditioning on excerpts that cater for your abilities. 

For new applicants, it is a little harder for us to guide you. Please look at the guidelines listed on the orchestra pages and consult with your instrumental teacher prior to applying, as they will have the best idea of which ensemble will be the most appropriate for you. Please feel free to try this quiz if you are still unsure. 


How long is the audition?

Auditions are 5-7 minutes long.


Can I bring an accompanist to the audition?

No.


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

This should be a 2-3 minute unaccompanied piece (or a 2-3 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 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, not their AMEB or Suzuki grades. 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 sent to all applicants by the end of September. Other key dates are listed here.


What is the cost of the audition?

All existing SYO members re-applying 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. Find more information on fees here.


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 ensemble who are ready to face the challenges of another ensemble and some 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?

Yes. SYO, with the very generous support of the SYO Foundation and many private donors, will provide a number of full or partial scholarships. 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 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 particular, this notion is encouraged in our younger ensembles. Players learn to play next to different players, and also learn that an orchestra is made up of equally valuable sections.


Is everyone who auditions for SYO offered a position?

Because of the way SYO is structured, we are able to offer a position to most string players who audition for the program, 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. See below for more information regarding ‘endangered instruments’. 


Can I change my audition time or date?

Unless you are ill or have an exam, no. We have over 900 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.


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! Some of these instruments include Bassoon, Viola and Double Bass, and to a lesser extent, the Oboe, French Horn and Trombone.

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.

SYO strongly encourages musicians who play more competitive instruments (such as Violin, Flute, Trumpet and Saxophone) and are interested in extending their orchestral opportunities to discuss the option of taking up an ‘endangered instrument’ with SYO or their private instrument tutor.


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 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.