Letter to Music Major Applicants

Dear Music Applicant:

We are delighted that you have applied to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, to be a music major. We are proud of our program and pleased that there have been so many students interested in participating in it. Our faculty, staff, and students are some of the best in the state. You will have many opportunities to participate in and attend high-quality performances by local, national, and international artists.

Because of the demand and the limited space at Cal Poly, and because the Music Department wants to help students make the best decision regarding their career, we have established, in conjunction with the Cal Poly Admissions Office, an additional level of application that is required in order to be considered for admission. This consists of a Supplementary Application, an audition, an interview, and an assessment screening. If you meet the CSU/Cal Poly eligibility criteria, we will invite you to schedule an in-person audition (or submit an audition recording via a YouTube link). It is highly recommended that you begin familiarizing yourself with our supplemental materials now, instead of waiting until you receive an invitation to schedule an audition. Please read the enclosed materials and deadlines carefully.

To assist you, I have the following advice:

  1. Be sure to read all of the materials carefully, especially the details about being invited to audition, and the deadlines. Review our Student Handbook. This will tell you a great deal about our program.
  2. Fill out the Supplementary Application/Scholarship Form very carefully, taking into consideration details that will present your music experiences most accurately and most persuasively. The essay portion (Section D) is extremely important.
    • All music application materials are due no later than Jan. 30, 2017, and are posted on the Music Department website.
    • If you are applying for a music scholarship, complete the Scholarship Section of our Supplementary Application. In addition, you should go to the Cal Poly Financial Aid Web page for additional scholarship and financial aid information. To apply for a music scholarship, an in-person audition is required for in-state applicants.
    • If you wish to be considered for a need-based scholarship or any other type of financial aid, you should follow the instructions to download and complete the FAFSA. Please read the instructions carefully on the scholarship application. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU COMPLETE THE FAFSA FORM, AS IT CONFIRMS YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR ANY KIND OF NEED-BASED SCHOLARSHIP OR FINANCIAL AID.
  3. Letters of recommendation are strongly recommended, but not required. They can be sent directly to us by the author or student, by regular mail or by email. We provide an Acrobat version of the form and a Microsoft Word version of the form, which can be downloaded and copied. The form doesn't have to be used, but is only provided as an aid.
  4. If you meet the Cal Poly admissions selection criteria, we will be contacting you around the middle of January to invite you to schedule your date (or submit a YouTube link to your audition).
    OUR AUDITION DATES ARE: Saturday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, March 4, 2017.
    • Be sure that you understand the requirements for an audition. An in-person audition is highly recommended and preferable to a recorded audition. If a YouTube link to a recording is submitted, the student may be asked to perform an in-person audition at another time if there are any questions. If you are submitting a recording, it must be of the highest audio quality.
    • Your performance at the audition should help indicate that you have the potential to successfully participate in one of the Music Department’s major ensemble (orchestra, wind orchestra, wind ensemble, jazz big band, choir, and Arab music ensemble) on the instrument that you play at the audition, or by singing if you audition as a vocalist. 
    • For your audition, you must prepare two pieces of a contrasting nature (i.e. one fast/one slow), not to exceed 8-10 minutes total. If your audition pieces are written with piano accompaniment, please contact the Music office to secure a staff accompanist for your audition. A brief interview and a short musicianship/sight reading demonstration will be administered during the audition. A piano placement and a music theory placement assessment will be administered immediately after your audition. For students performing a jazz piece at the auditions, you may do any of the following:
      • Bring your own rhythm section play-along recording (on a CD, MP3 player, or smart phone). The play-along recording can be a commercial one, or homemade, but should be the highest quality.
      • Bring fully notated piano accompaniment for an accompanist.
      • Play unaccompanied.
    • Original compositions may be submitted as a supplement to - not replacing - your performance audition. They may be submitted as notated scores or as recordings (performed by either the applicant or by others). Recordings should be of the highest quality. Applicants may choose their own compositions for their performance audition but should be aware that the performance audition should demonstrate the potential to successfully participate as a performer in one of the music department’s major ensembles.
    • Transfer students are expected to have a minimum understanding of music theory equivalent to Cal Poly’s MU 101. However, for more timely progress toward the degree, it is strongly recommended that transfer students enter Cal Poly with an understanding of music theory equivalent to Cal Poly’s MU 105. Transfer students should have some piano performing experience either through private lessons or college/university piano classes.
    • To apply for a scholarship, an in-person audition is required for in-state applicants.
    • Admission to the Music Department is during the Fall Quarter only. If you are unable to apply for the Fall Quarter, please adjust your educational plans accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding the supplementary application or about the program in particular, do not hesitate to give us a call. The phone numbers are (805) 756-2607 and (805) 756-2406.