Entrance Audition Information
We are grateful you are interested in PYSO and encourage you to tell your musical friends about our May auditions through your social media, texting and email. We are looking forward to our 70th season of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras.
Our May and August audition windows have closed. Please Contact Us if you are interested in being a member of PYSO and we can answer any questions.
Auditions are currently virtual. Details on when and how to make your audition video will be sent to you via email after you apply.
Who Can Audition
The Entrance Audition Application is for new members joining PYSO and for existing members who wish to audition to change ensembles. Current PYSO students wanting to remain in their current ensemble should complete the Renewal Application in their Google Classroom.
Non-refundable audition fee – $35
If you have any questions, please contact PYSO Operations Manager, Todd Betz, at email@example.com.
About Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras
PYS Orchestras include two full symphonic orchestras, two string ensembles, two wind ensembles, and a percussion ensemble:
- Symphony Orchestra – Our most advanced full orchestra including experienced and exceptionally talented young adults up to age 20.
- Philharmonic Orchestra – Full orchestra for students in junior and senior high school.
- Symphonic Winds – Junior high school woodwind, brass and percussion students tackle more advanced rehearsal and performance skills.
- Wind Orchestra – PYSO’s advanced wind ensemble, designed for high school woodwind, brass and percussion students to explore challenging wind ensemble repertoire.
- String Orchestra – Strings students in upper elementary and junior high.
- Prelude Strings – Strings students in grades 1-5.
- Percussion Ensemble – Made up of percussionists from the other ensembles.
Close to three hundred students participate in PYSO’s orchestral training program each year. Selected through a rigorous audition process, and invited to train with one of our ensembles, these young musicians enjoy weekly rehearsals led by world-class conductors, sectionals coached by professional musicians, weekend retreats and the opportunity to perform before thousands of audience members in the highest-quality venues throughout the Valley. PYS Orchestras have received local, national and international recognition for excellence and have performed throughout the world.
Our ensemble conductors produced a short video about student experiences in their ensembles. Check out the videos below for each orchestra:
Audition Frequently Asked Questions
When are auditions?
Auditions are held annually in May and August. The May and August audition windows have closed. Check in the Spring for the audition information for 2022-2023.
Who can audition?
The Entrance Audition Application is for new members joining PYSO and for existing members who wish to audition to change ensembles. Current PYSO students wanting to remain in their current ensemble next season should complete the Renewal Application in their Google Classroom.
Are auditions in-person or virtual?
This year, auditions are virtual, by video submission. Details on when and how to make your audition video will be sent via email after you apply.
When is the video audition due?
Video submission dates will be posted here when the audition window opens.
What will be on the audition?
Audition requirements are different for each ensemble. Choose Ensemble Audition Requirements to the left to learn more about each ensemble.
What is the audition fee?
Non-refundable audition fee – $35
What is the annual membership fee for each ensemble?
Each ensemble has a different fee. Visit the “About” page for each ensemble to learn the ensemble fees.
How do I know which ensemble is right for me?
It is important to us that students are placed in the appropriate ensemble where they are challenged but not overwhelmed. It is also important that students thrive not only in like musical ability but social structures as well (age and grade). We also encourage all students and parents to review the Ensemble Audition Requirements for each ensemble. The requirements reflect technical need by musicians to be successful in that ensemble. (ex. 3-octave scales are particularly important in most string auditions for the Symphony Orchestra).
Can I choose more than one ensemble?
Yes! PYSO recommends students select multiple ensembles in which to be considered for entrance. Here are some examples:
- Auditioning for Symphony Orchestra will also be considered for Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Auditioning for Philharmonic will also be considered for String Orchestra.
- Auditioning for String Orchestra will also be considered for Prelude Strings.
Winds, brass and Percussion musicians:
- Auditioning for Symphony Orchestra will also be considered for Philharmonic Orchestra and Wind Orchestra.
I auditioned for Symphony Orchestra, but didn’t make it. Do I have to re-audition for Philharmonic?
No! Important: Student’s auditions will be evaluated based on the highest ensemble selected. Additional ensembles in which to be considered does not require an additional audition. If an audition does not meet the criteria for the ensemble in which it is being adjudicated the students will automatically be considered for the additional ensembles listed and placed into the best ensemble to be successful.
I’m currently a PYSO student. Do I need to audition again?
Only if you want to move up to the next ensemble. PYSO does encourage students to audition each year to continue working their way up the Orchestral Training ladder from the youngest ensembles to the most advanced ensemble. However, current PYSO students wanting to remain in their current ensemble next season should complete the Renewal Application in their Google Classroom and do not need to audition.
What should I wear in the video audition?
The key is to always look professional. Avoid t-shirts, shorts, and beach sandals. Female attire: no bare shoulders; dresses/skirts should be a conservative length; cellists should consider the fullness of your skirt to allow for positioning for the cello. Practice at home in your audition clothes and the dress shoes you plan to audition in.
What are some things I can do to prepare for my audition video?
Make sure your audition piece is well prepared. For a piece or excerpt, listen to several different recordings to get a feel for the tempo, phrasing, etc. Record yourself practicing (you can use your smartphone) and take notes listening to the playback. If you tend to get nervous, perform several times in front of your family. Play for your friends at school. If the audition requires you to play scales, ask your listeners to choose random scales for you to demonstrate. If you do not have someone listening, write the names of scales on small slips of paper and then draw them out of a hat. Scales for string players, practice finding the first note of the scale WITHOUT playing it.
Specific Audition Requirements for Each Ensemble
Audition excerpts will be posted here when the audition window opens.
Important: Student’s auditions will be evaluated based on the highest ensemble selected. (ex. Symphony Orchestra auditions will be held to the audition requirement criteria for acceptance. String Orchestra will be held to the audition requirement criteria for acceptance, etc.) Additional ensembles in which to be considered does not require an additional audition. If an audition does not meet the criteria for the ensemble in which it is being adjudicated the students will automatically be considered for the additional ensembles listed and placed into the best ensemble to be successful.
Video Submission Guidelines
1. All audition components for your video(s) must be done in ONE take each.
- Solo piece
- Orchestral Excerpt (Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra submissions only)
2. Your video audition submission should include one video of each component submitted separately with no edits for your virtual audition.
- Symphony Orchestra – 3 components
- Philharmonic Orchestra – 3 components
- Wind Orchestra – 2 components
- String Orchestra – 2 components (possible additional sight-reading video – details provided at a later date)
- Prelude Strings – 2 components (possible additional sight-reading video – details provided at a later date)
2. If you do not like a ‘take’ of an individual component, you may try again as long as your final submission of each component is in one continuous unedited take.
3. You may not edit, cut, splice, or otherwise alter each video.
4. The picture must remain stationary: no panning, zooming, multiple cameras, fading in/out.
5. Video framing: Place the video recording device so that you, your instrument, and your full range of motion are in the frame at all times. Make sure your music stand does not cover your face, instrument, arms/hands and range of motion.
6. Video must not exceed 7 minutes. The judge will stop watching at 7 minutes. Make sure all the components of your audition fit within 7 minutes. It is OK if your video is less than 7 minutes. Remember your solo portion is 3 minutes.
7. Scan and create a PDF of your music to upload with your videos.
8. Tune instrument to A=440.
Video Recording Tips
- Recording on a phone or tablet device is fine. A special camera is not necessary.
- You may want to have someone else press the record and stop button for you so you can start from a relaxed place.
- Record in an acoustic-neutral place in your home. Not in your closet (not enough echo) and not in your bathroom (too much echo). A living room or other open space should be fine.
- Make sure there is no fan (ceiling or otherwise) operating while you play.
- Record when you can have a quiet room with no interruptions.
- Film in a well-lit space. Make sure there is more light in front of you rather than behind you so that you are not “back-lit”. For example, do not record with you standing in front of a window.
- For string instruments, make sure your f-holes are directed toward the video recording device.
- Place the video recording device on a flat surface with the microphone area unobstructed.
- Check your sound levels before recording to make sure your sound is not distorted in loud passages and inaudible in soft passages.
- Use the rear camera rather than the front facing (selfie) camera as the rear camera is typically a higher resolution.
- Time your solo piece and excerpt ahead of time so you know where to start and stop. You can go over/under the required number of minutes in order to finish a phrase.