Audition Guidelines

The audition gives you the opportunity to showcase your musical ability, as well as your passion and commitment. Prepare well and then enjoy your time sharing your talent with us. The faculty who assess your performance are experienced musicians who hear and see beyond your nervousness and focus on your musicality. Think of us as welcoming and encouraging fans rooting you on from the sidelines.


1. Book your audition

Confirm eligibility

You are eligible to audition after you have applied to the Bachelor of Music and received an electronic letter of acknowledgement with your MacEwan user ID and temporary password from the Office of the University Registrar.

Check audition dates

Auditions are scheduled for the Spring each year and dates are usually posted in September. You will need to select a date that allows you to submit your application for admission in advance and gives you time to prepare for audition components.

Check audition dates

Book your audition

Once you receive the email with your MacEwan network ID and temporary password from the Office of the University Registrar (which indicates that your application has been received), you can book your audition. When you make the booking, use your email and include your MacEwan Student ID, your instrument and preferred date.

book your audition


2. Review audition requirements

Audition components

At your audition, you will be expected to prepare and demonstrate your skills in the following components:

  1. Repertoire (each piece may be no longer than four minutes)

  2. Technical skills

  3. Theory rudiments and basic aural skills (ear training) exam. 

Theory and aural skills requirements

Theory testing

In a group setting, on a computer, you will be asked to:

  1. Identify major and minor key signatures in keys up to four sharps and flats

  2. Identify major, harmonic minor, and natural minor scales in keys up to four sharps and flats

  3. Recognize simple rhythmic patterns and identify meters

  4. Identify I, IV, and V chords in major keys and i, iv and V in minor keys

  5. Identify major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads in closed and open voicings

  6. Identify enharmonic equivalents of a given pitch

Aural skills testing

In a group setting, you will be asked to:

  1. Distinguish between major triads, minor triads, and dominant seventh chords

  2. Distinguish between the following intervals:

    a) major and minor seconds
    b) perfect fifths and octaves
    c) major thirds and perfect fourths

  3. Identify the degrees of the major scale by number or letter

In a private setting, you may be asked to:

  1. Sing (match) pitches that are played on the piano

  2. Sing up and/or down an octave from a given pitch

  3. Sing the top and/or bottom note of an interval

  4. Sight-read rhythms

Live vs recorded auditions

In-person auditions are highly recommended for all applicants, but a digital video recording will be accepted if you live outside of the province of Alberta. We require high quality recorded auditions that are playable on North American devices.

Contact us to arrange a distance audition


3. Prepare to audition in your area of study

Bass (upright/electric)


You will perform two pieces selected from the following four categories. The two selections must be from different categories:

  1. A piece of your choice in popular/contemporary style (rock, blues, country, pop, etc.) that demonstrates your technique, sense of feel, and musicality. Please provide an mp3 of the track to play along to.
  2. Prepare a jazz standard from the list on the audition document. Be prepared to perform the melody, play a walking bass line through the chord changes and improvise a simple solo over the chord changes. Piano accompaniment will be provided.
  3. Perform a transcription (minimum of 24 bars) of a jazz bass solo. Provide an mp3 of the track to play along to.
  4. Prepare a short classical study, etude, or piece.


(Note: More details are in the audition document.)

  1. Scales played at a moderate, even tempo, ascending and descending.

  2. Arpeggios played at a moderate, even tempo, ascending and descending.

  3. Walking Bass Line played over the F, 12 bar blues, chord progression. 


You will be asked to sight-read three short musical excerpts.

To prepare, practice reading the notes within the bass clef staff as well as straight and swung eighth-note rhythms.

Download full document (pdf)

Drum set/Percussion

Snare drum

  1. Perform the following Rudiments from slow to fast:
    Long roll, 5, 7, 9, and 13 stroke rolls, single stroke roll, ruffs, single and double drag taps, flams, flam tap, flam accent, single, double and triple ratamacues and single, double and triple paradiddles.

  2. Perform one prepared snare drum solo/etude that demonstrates your present level of technical ability.

Drum set

1. Perform the following time feels displaying independence and stylistically suitable fills:

  • Rock

  • 16th note funk

  • Medium swing

  • Up-tempo swing

  • Shuffle

  • 12/8

  • Jazz waltz

  • Bossa nova

2. Trade 4's with sticks in a swing context.

3. Demonstrate the use of brushes in a swing context.


You will be given sight-reading. Please see an example of the type of music you should be able to sight read in the audition document.

Download full document (pdf)

Guitar (electric)


You will perform three selections, as indicated below. These pieces should be well prepared, and should best demonstrate your abilities and musicality. The three selections are:

  1. A jazz, blues, or Latin standard. You must perform the melody of the song on guitar and an improvised solo. Guitar accompaniment will be provided--please provide the sheet music. You should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the sound, phrasing, and language of the style, and your ability to play with accompaniment.

  2. A piece of your choice in a contrasting jazz or popular/contemporary style (rock, pop, country, blues, funk, etc), played without accompaniment.

  3. A solo guitar piece such as a jazz guitar chord solo, a classical guitar etude/study, or a folk guitar selection. This should be from a published source, and sheet music should be provided. (For an example, see Appendix III. You may play this as your piece if you wish.)


You will demonstrate the following:

  1. Scales - played at a moderate, even tempo, up and down, in position (See Appendix I)

    • Major scale in all keys

           • One octave, starting on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th strings

           • Two octaves, starting on the 6th string

    • Natural Minor scale in all keys, one octave, starting on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th strings

  2. Triads - Major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads, C, F, and A roots, in all inversions on all string sets. The string sets are:

    • Set 1: strings 1-2-3. Set 2: strings 2-3-4. Set 3: strings 3-4-5. Set 4: strings 4-5-6 (See Appendix I for more information about triads and inversions)

  3. 7th chords - the following chords, all roots, with no open strings (be able to play at least two versions of each):

    • Major 7, Dominant 7, minor 7, minor 7(b5) or half-diminished 7, and diminished 7


You will sight-read the following:

  1. Basic 8th note based melodies in the keys of C, F, and G 2.
  2. Chord charts, including blues and basic jazz harmony

(See Appendix II for sight-reading examples).

Download full document (pdf)



You will perform three selections. You may use charts or other music scores at the audition, but the expectation is that the choices reflect the highest level of your technical ability and musicality:

  1. Perform two pieces in contrasting styles. These may be selected from jazz, rock, pop and/or classical repertoires (no original pieces or improvisations please, but jazz pieces may include an improvised section). Classical pieces must be at the Grade VI Royal Conservatory (RCM) level or higher.

  2. In addition, perform one 12-bar blues piece with an improvised section. The level of difficulty is your choice.


You will demonstrate the following:

  1. Scales (two octaves, hands together, at best tempo)

    • All major scales

    • All harmonic minor scales

    • All melodic minor scales

  2. Chords (played solid, not arpeggiated)

    • The four basic triads, all roots, root position and inversions, in either hand as requested: major, minor, augmented and diminished,

    • The five basic seventh chords, all roots, root position inversions, in either hand as requested: major 7, dominant 7, minor 7, half-diminished 7 (min7b5), and full-diminished 7.


You will sight-read the following:

  1. A piece of piano music on the first attempt, without error, at a slow and even tempo (grand staff, approximately eight measures).

  2. A basic chord chart comprising triads and basic seventh chords in the style of a “comping” (accompanying) piano part:

  • Imagine that this is the keyboard part for a pop/rock band

  • Lay down the time (groove)

  • The LH will play roots (single notes or in octaves), the RH will play the chords

  • Voicing in the RH is up to discretion of the applicant, but the applicant will voice-lead the chords

Download full document (pdf)



You will perform one selection. The expectation is that the choice reflects the highest level of your technical ability and musicality.

Your own choice with accompaniment.

  • This selection must be in a jazz or popular/contemporary style (rock, blues, country, pop, R&B, etc.).

  • The Music Program does not provide an accompanist. You may choose to bring in your own or contact the music program to name an accompanist.

  • You may accompany yourself or use an accompaniment track.

  • If using an accompaniment track, the recording may not have a lead vocal line on the track.

  • Backing track can be on a CD or an MP3 player such as an iPod or laptop.

  • This selection may be an original composition.

  • You must perform this selection from memory.

  • A Capella selections are not permitted.


You will demonstrate (sing) the following:

  1. Pitch Matching

    • Match a pitch within your range

    • Pitch played out of your range to be matched within your range

    • Slide up (glissando) one octave from a pitch played within your range

    • Slide down (glissando) one octave from a pitch played within your range

    • Of two pitches played together, sing the highest pitch

    • Of two pitches played together, sing the lowest pitch.

  2. Vocal Technique Exercises

    • You may be asked to sing standard vocal exercises that demonstrate range and technical facility.


You will sight-read the following:

  1. Melodic exercises

    • Single staff, treble clef only, major keys and sung using solfege, numbers or “vi”

  2. Rhythmic exercises

    • Clapping, single staff, 4/4 and 3/4 time signature

Download full document (pdf)

Wind, Brass, Strings


You will perform three pieces:

  1. One piece must be chosen from the pre-approved list of recommended tunes. (See page two for Audition Repertoire List – Instrumental)

    • This prepared piece will be performed with an accompaniment track provided by MacEwan Music. Please indicate your selection in advance.

    • For this selection, be prepared to perform the melody and an improvised solo.

  2. A second piece will be an etude or classical study. It will be performed unaccompanied.

  3. Perform a transcription of a jazz standard to be played with the recording with the objective being to evaluate accuracy, style, time concept, articulation, phrasing and sound.

    • It is recommended that the transcription be memorized for both taped and live auditions.

    • Be played either unaccompanied or with a play-a-long track

    • Please bring the CD of the original recording to the live audition to play along with.


You will demonstrate the following:

  1. Major scales in all keys (eighth notes at m.m. = 100)

    • two octaves slurred and tongued

  2. Minor scales up to and including 4 sharps and 4 flats (eighth notes at m.m. = 100)

    • harmonic and standard melodic minor form

  3. Major, minor and dominant seventh arpeggios in all keys (eighth notes at m.m. = 100)

    • one octave


You will be provided sight-reading at the grade 6 RCM level.

Download full document (pdf)


If you require preparatory study or private lessons before you book an audition, please contact the Conservatory of Music.


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Start the application process early

You need to meet a number of important deadlines when you apply for admission.

Next steps

Avoid delays by submitting any outstanding admission documents as quickly as possible and monitoring your To Do List in myStudentSystem for changes or new requests. After an admission decision is made you will receive a notice from the Office of the University Registrar.

Learn more about admission decisions