CMA Audition Repertoire

Prescreening video submissions are required of all CMA applicants as part of the online application by December 1, 2022. 

Please read the following audition guidelines carefully:

  • NEC will return to a live audition format with an option to submit a final recorded audition. Applicants are strongly encouraged to travel to Boston for an in-person audition. 
  • Due to the selective nature of our Doctor of Musical Arts and Harvard/NEC Five-Year Dual-Degree programs, applicants to those programs must present a live audition on campus.

Please read the recording guidelines below for prescreening and auditions. 

Prescreening/Audition Repertoire Guidelines - Updated July 2022

Prescreening Requirements

We are interested in knowing who you are, musically: your influences, your interests, and your vision (in other words: where you are now, who/what you’ve been listening to over the years, and where you want to go). You will write about this in your CMA essay, but we’d also like to hear a little in the music you choose to play for us. So choose pieces that reflect (a little or a lot) who you are!

Applicants should perform two contrasting pieces:

  1. A re-composition of an existing piece. This piece should express your personal musical style and you should take a leadership role in the piece as the primary soloist, arranger, and/or musical director. An "existing piece" includes any work or composition that was not written by you; this can extend to traditional music, compositions from any style or genre, or works by artists who have influenced you.
  2. An original composition OR a second re-composition, that is a contrast from your first submission (e.g., if your first submission is your improvisation based on a J.S. Bach fugue, the second piece should be something drawing on non-classical repertoire; consider different grooves/pulses/rhythmic feels/styles/genres.)

Notes:

  • Applicants are encouraged to submit diverse repertoire, including works composed by women, people from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and/or musicians from one's own cultural background.
  • It is important that we hear how you create a rhythmic groove (in any style) as rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic work are all important parts of our curriculum.
  • Please do not submit two original compositions. One piece must show your engagement with a pre-existing work or tradition.

 

Final Live Audition Requirements

We are interested in knowing who you are, musically: your influences, your interests, and your vision (in other words: where you are now, who/what you’ve been listening to over the years, and where you want to go). You will write about this in your CMA essay, but we’d also like to hear a little in the music you choose to play for us. So choose pieces that reflect (a little or a lot) who you are!

Applicants should perform two contrasting pieces:

  1. A re-composition of an existing piece. This piece should express your personal musical style and you should take a leadership role in the piece as the primary soloist, arranger, and/or musical director. An "existing piece" includes any work or composition that was not written by you; this can extend to traditional music, compositions from any style or genre, or works by artists who have influenced you.
  2. An original composition OR a second re-composition, that is a contrast from your first submission (e.g., if your first submission is your improvisation based on a J.S. Bach fugue, the second piece should be something drawing on non-classical repertoire; consider different grooves/pulses/rhythmic feels/styles/genres.)

Notes:

  • Applicants are encouraged to submit diverse repertoire, including works composed by women, people from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and/or musicians from one's own cultural background.
  • It is important that we hear how you create a rhythmic groove (in any style) as rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic work are all important parts of our curriculum.
  • Please do not submit two original compositions. One piece must show your engagement with a pre-existing work or tradition.

In addition to the performed pieces, applicants will be asked to sing and play back brief musical phrases and improvise vocally and instrumentally on brief harmonic progressions. Drummers will be asked to demonstrate ability to play in various grooves. Instrumentalists will be asked to demonstrate ability to perform as functional ensemble musicians (for example, bassists might improvise bass lines and guitarists or pianists might provide rhythmic accompaniment).

A rhythm section (consisting of piano, bass, and drums) will be provided to assist with the audition as needed. 

The audition process will also include an interview and an aural skills test (including interval and chord identification, long-term melodic and rhythmic retention).

 

Live Audition Dates

Forthcoming, August 2022

 

Final Recorded Auditions (video only)

Applicants who choose to submit a final recorded audition must still submit prescreening videos as part of the online application. Applicants who pass the prescreening round will be invited to submit a final video audition recording. Repertoire requirements for the final video audition recording are the same as those for live auditions, however repertoire chosen should differ from what was submitted for prescreening. Final audition video recordings are due by February 1, and all other application and supporting materials, including prescreening, are due by December 1. No recording will be reviewed without a completed application. Applicants being considered for admission by final recorded audition will be interviewed and given an aural skills test by Zoom.