Entrance Auditions

IMPORTANT: Please read our How to Apply page for information on applying SJSU and the School of Music and Dance.

On campus audition dates for admission to the School of Music and Dance in Fall 2023:

  • Saturday, February 4, 2023
  • Saturday, February 11, 2023

Deadline for video audition submission for Fall 2023:

  • Saturday, March 4, 2023

Other audition times may be made available on an individual basis. Contact the School of Music and Dance recruitment office at (408) 924-4673 or musicdancerecruitment@sjsu.edu.

IMPORTANT: Check your email often for communication from SJSU and the School of Music and Dance about scheduling your audition.

All first-year music students will also complete a Theory and Ear-training placement exam during the first class meeting of MUSC 1A or MUSC 9.

NOTE: Ensemble placement auditions are spearate from entrance auditions and are held prior to the first day of classes in the fall semester. Exact dates and times will listed on the website under the appropriate ensemble. Please contact ensemble directors for more details.

Applied Music Placement

Each music major must declare, with approval of the appropriate applied music committee, a principal performance medium and carry on continuous study in one of the following areas:

Brass Woodwinds Strings Keyboard Percussion Voice
Horn Flute Violin Piano    
Trumpet Oboe Viola Organ    
Trombone Bassoon Cello Harpsichord    
Euphonium Clarinet Bass (Acoustic/Electric)      
Tuba Saxophone Harp      
    Guitar (Acoustic/Electric)      


SJSU jazz musicians perform together.

Performance Level Placement

For transfer students, your audition will place each student at one of the following levels consistent with the Music Program's performance standards:

Level Year of Study

Level One

Freshman, First Semester

Level Two

Freshman, Second Semester

Level Three

Sophomore, First Semester

Level Four

Sophomore, Second Semester

Level Five*

Junior, First Semester

Level Six

Junior, Second Semester

Level Seven

Senior, First Semester

Level Eight

Senior, Second Semester

Level Nine

Graduate, Unclassified

Level Ten

Graduate, Classified

Students may be placed at an applied level below their university standing. Once any remediation has been completed, a student may request to be placed at a higher performance level at their regular semester-end applied jury. 

* All students must pass a SJSU Junior Qualifying Jury prior to placement in level five or above.

A woman plays a grand piano.

Suggested Audition Literature

Auditionees will prepare a variety of selections, totaling approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Here is a list of suggested audition materials.

Musicians on stage.

Audition/Portfolio Requirement to the BA-Music Technology Focus

While an emphasis in Music Technology may be declared from the freshman year, admission to individual studio arts instruction and permission to advance to upper-division standing is predicated upon the following:

  • Successful completion of first-year requirements in applied lessons on an instrument or voice.
  • Completion of MUSC 170A, 170B, and 167 with a grade of B- or better.
  • Presentation of a portfolio of well constructed audio CDs of at least one live ensemble concert and one full studio recording involving multiple instruments, voices, and/or sound effects, each over one half-hour in length.
  • Short projects demonstrating original sound composition and/or combined media techniques.

Orchestra performing together on stage.

Major Ensemble Auditions

All undergraduate majors must enroll in a major ensemble each semester they are enrolled in Music. All students enrolled in applied lessons must be enrolled in a major ensemble. Graduate students may apply 3 units of ensemble credit to the graduate requirements of 30 units.

For more information on each ensemble, see Performance Ensembles.

Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion

Wind Ensemble/Symphonic Band is the appropriate major performing ensemble. The Orchestra conductor and the Wind Ensemble director will make Orchestra wind and percussion assignments in consultation with applied faculty. Students must play a prepared piece and sight read.


Orchestra is the appropriate performing ensemble. Students must play a prepared piece and sight read. Auditions take place the two days before classes begin each semester.

Vocal Majors

Concert Choir is the appropriate major performing ensemble. Auditions take place the two days before classes begin each semester.

Jazz Studies

The Jazz Orchestra and Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble are approved major performing ensembles.

Piano Students

Consult with the Area Coordinator for Keyboard Studies for appropriate major ensembles. 

Make-up Ensemble Auditions

A student who misses his or her ensemble audition should contact the conductor of the ensemble for information on make-up auditions. Make-up auditions might not be scheduled in all areas, in which case the student's audition would be postponed until the following semester. Therefore, students should make every effort to audition during scheduled audition times.

Music theory and Ear-Training

Music Theory and Ear-Training Placement Examination


A placement examination will be given during the first meeting of MUSC 9 and MUSC 1A. Attend the first class meeting for either course, as the 45-minute exam is identical. This is a mandatory examination for all first-year students. If you miss the exam you will be placed into MUSC 9, Music Fundamentals.

The purpose of the following is to help entering music majors better prepare themselves for freshman level music classes. While much of this material will be discussed and reviewed in classes, it is in the student's best interest to have a working knowledge and familiarity with some theory, terminology and music history.

Entering students should be familiar with following tasks:

  1. Reading both treble and bass clefs;
  2. Understanding basic rhythmic notation for both notes and rests;
  3. Knowing major and minor key signatures;
  4. Understanding whole- and half-steps as they relate to scales (scale patterns);
  5. Understanding simple triads (three-note chords);
  6. Understanding basic musical terminology as related to tempo, style and performance;
  7. Understanding a brief overview of musical periods and a basic knowledge of significant composers from each era.
  8. For additional references, please consult from among the following sources.

Transfer Students

Contact Dr. Pablo Furman for information regarding placement examination.

Note to Transfer Students: Please be aware that your previous educational institution may have an "course to course articulation agreement" with SJSU. This agreement may determine your music systems placement level. Many agreements include the clause, "Subject to Completion of Theory Placement Exam." If you have questions about the articulation agreement between your previous educational institution and SJSU, please see the SJSU Articulation page.

Text Sources

  • Henry, Earl, Snodgrass, Jennifer, and Piagentini, Susan Fundamentals of Music: Rudiments, Musicianship, and Composition (6th Edition). Pearson; ISBN: 978-0205118335
  • Houlahan, Michael and Tacka, Philip From Sound to Symbol: Fundamentals of Music. Oxford University Press, USA; ISBN: 978-0199751914 

Electronic Sources

  • eTheory: Music Theory Fundamentals in Four Weeks: eTheory is the Eastman School of Music's online course, which can be used by non-Eastman students for an introduction to theory fundamentals, including intervals, counterpoint, chords and figured bass, and phrase models. The online course includes over 200 sets of writing, playing, listening, singing, and conducting exercises, and provides immediate feedback 
    on all new concepts.
  • Musictheory.net provides free content—lessons and exams—for the content listed in the numbered bullets (#1-6) shown above.
  • Online Music Theory Flash Cards are helpful with testing yourself on music rudiments.