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Becoming An Undergraduate Music Major

Students MUST audition and be accepted by the Music Department to become music majors. Admission to the University is NOT the equivalent of admission as a music major. Applications for admission to the University may be obtained HERE.

Auditions and Music Theory Assessment

Departmental Auditions

Students intending to become music majors at North Carolina Central University are required to audition on the primary instrument prior to acceptance into the Music Department. It is expected that students plan for auditions well in advance of their audition dates. Students living within a 100-mile radius of Durham are expected to audition on-site. Other students may submit a CD or DVD recording in lieu of a live audition, although an in-person audition is preferred. A recording should be of the best audio or video quality possible, although primary emphasis will be placed upon the quality of the performance. 

Auditions are scheduled in the fall for admission in the following spring, and in the spring for the following fall semester. For currently scheduled audition dates contact the Music Department office.

All auditions will include the following components:All auditions will include the following components:

Performance of two (2) prepared selections of varying styles.

  • Sight-reading assessment.
  • Technical assessment.

For additional audition guidelines specific to individual instruments, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Undergraduate Jazz Studies Auditions

Students auditioning to be Jazz Studies majors must audition for acceptance into the Jazz Studies program IN ADDITION TO their audition for admission to the Music Department. The Jazz Studies audition usually occurs at the same time as the departmental audition. Jazz Studies auditions will include the following components:

  • Performance of two prepared selections, with improvisation including one blues or "Rhythm changes" piece. 
  • One ballad
  • Sight-reading assessment
  • Assessment of facility with chords and scales

Music Theory Assessment

The Music Theory Assessment Test, which determines placement in the Fundamentals and Harmony classes, is given during the orientation period at the beginning of each semester. In some circumstances, it is possible to schedule other audition dates than those shown above. To arrange an audition, please contact the Music Department Office.

Click here to see additional audition guidelines specific to individual instruments.

Becoming A Graduate Music Student

Prerequisites to Admission to Graduate Studies Leading to the Master of Music in Jazz Studies:

  • Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance or a Bachelor of Arts in Music with extensive experience in jazz performance and or teaching
  • Students entering the Master of Music in Jazz Studies program must have a 2.7 cumulative grade point average and a 3.0 average in their undergraduate major
  • Advanced study in Jazz Theory and Improvisation (Performance Majors)
  • Advanced study in Jazz Arranging and Composition (Composition Majors)
  • Extensive jazz big band and or small combo experience (Vocal or Instrumental)

Application Process:

  • Graduate Application Form (Graduate Admissions)
  • Two official undergraduate transcripts
  • Two letters of Reference
  • With the exception of NCCU undergraduates, all applicants are required to meet the university standards on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

Audition Procedures

Students auditioning for the program must be proficient in improvisation on the following three song forms:

  1. the blues,
  2. "Rhythm changes," and
  3. select standards including ballads, and latin jazz

A performance of each of the sub-styles listed above will be required to provide evidence of the applicant's improvisational skills.

Additionally, applicants may submit recordings (small or large ensemble)that provide evidence of applicant's musical development.

Students seeking the Composition track must provide written scores and recordings as evidence of successful writing ability.

A successful performance audition and a written and oral theory exam are required for acceptance into the program.

Additional Audition Guidelines Specific To Individual Instruments


Two prepared pieces selected from the following:

  1. Italian anthology song (sung in Italian or English)
  2. Classical or Romantic period song (sung in English)
  3. 20th-century or Broadway song (sung in English).

Vocalization demonstrating vocal range and reproduction of pitches and melodic fragments. Prospective students will be evaluated on vocal potential along with basic musical skills.


Major and minor scales up to 5 sharps or flats (2 hands, 2 octaves). Two prepared pieces representative at the very minimum of Level three of the common preparatory piano repertory, such as:

  1. Movements from sonatinas by Clementi, Kuhlau, Kabalevsky, etc.
  2. Selections comparable to Bach, Little Preludes, 2-Part Inventions ; Scarlatti, Easy Sonatas; Schumann, Album for the Young; Gretchaninoff, Children's Book, Op. 98, etc.
  3. Selections comparable to Bartok, For Children (Books I and II), Ten Easy Pieces, etc.


  1. Major and minor scales up to 5 sharps or flats (2 hands, 3 octaves); chromatic scale.
  2. A Bach prelude and fugue or another representative Baroque composer.
  3. A representative work from the 19th or 20th century.
  4. A hymn from a representative hymnal.

Students who have not previously studied organ and who wish to begin such study at NCCU should plan to audition on piano to demonstrate the keyboard skills necessary for organ study. Consult the Piano guidelines for the details.

Stringed Instruments (violin, viola, cello, double bass)

  1. Major and minor scales up to 4 sharps or flats, 2 octaves minimum, 3 octaves (when possible) with various bowings.
  2. An etude from the representative repertory.
  3. Movements from the student or standard repertory demonstrating both technical proficiency and musical expressive ability.


  1. Demonstration of open chords, major and minor barre chords with the root on 5th and 6th strings.
  2. Major scales in two octaves.
  3. Two prepared pieces reflecting a variety of styles.
  4. Demonstration of sight-reading ability.

Woodwind Instruments

  1. Major scales up to 4 sharps or flats, 2 octaves; chromatic scale.
  2. Solos or etudes from books such as Rubank Advanced Method, vols. I and II; selected studies by Voxman; representative works from standard literature.

Brass Instruments

  1. Major and minor scales to 5 sharps or flats, 2 octaves; chromatic scale.
  2. Movement from representative solo concerto or sonata repertoire by composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Hummel, Dittersdorf, David, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, or Vaughan Williams.
  3. Representative orchestral excerpts or standard etudes.


Basic rudiments on snare drum, and familiarity with keyboard or mallet instruments.
For trap drum set, a knowledge of several different rhythm patterns, including Latin and swing.

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