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Music Scholarship


Frequently Asked Questions for Online Auditions (2021)

If you plan to audition in a future year (2022 or beyond), see the original Frequently Asked Questions page.

What if I'm not available on any of the interview dates?

  • Contact Emily Valine; she will work with you to find a separate time when you can connect with the music faculty to interview online.

What do I need to record my audition?

  • A device with a camera and microphone that can also record (a smartphone, tablet, or computer): we recommend testing out different devices to determine the one that produces the best audio quality available to you
  • A quiet room with minimal background noise and distractions
  • A surface, stand, or person to hold your device (see below for information on how the camera should be positioned)
  • A separate device or speaker to play an accompaniment recording, if you are using one

What do I need for my online interview?

  • A device with a camera and microphone (a smartphone, tablet, or computer)
  • An internet connection that meets Zoom system requirements: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE). Minimum bandwidth is 600kbps (up/down) and recommended is 1.5 Mbps (up/down). You can check your speed at
  • If you do not have an internet connection, you can also call into the Zoom meeting on a phone (audio only)
  • A quiet room with minimal background noise and distractions
  • The Zoom software or app downloaded onto your device
  • A Zoom account (optional but recommended)

What will my interview be like?

  • On interview day, you'll click on the Zoom link you received via email. This will take you to a virtual waiting room, so you can go ahead and click the link a few minutes prior to your scheduled time. Once the previous student has finished their interview, you'll be admitted to the virtual meeting room!
  • You will need to select your audio input (usually "use device audio"). We'll take a minute to make sure your microphone and audio are working so we can hear each other! You'll see 4 or 5 people on screen.
  • The music faculty will introduce themselves and have a short conversation. They'll have questions for you about your musical experience, academic and personal interests, college plans, etc., and you will have the opportunity to ask them any questions you have as well.

Do you have any tips for setting up the camera for my audition recording?

  • Please set up your device so there is a clear and centered view of at least your upper body, hands, and face as you perform. Make sure you don't move out of the frame! You may have your device vertical or horizontal, whichever you think captures a better overall view.
  • If you are performing with a pianist live (not a recorded accompaniment), make sure the recording device is closer to you than it is to the piano, otherwise your sound will be overpowered by the piano.
  • If you are performing with a recorded accompaniment, play the recording on a Bluetooth or other external speaker if possible. If not, at least play it from a separate device from the one recording the video, and don't put it too close.
  • If you are using sheet music on a music stand, make sure the stand is low enough or off to the side so that it is not blocking you from the camera.
  • Ideas for holding the device: a tripod, a music stand, a chair with a pile of books, 2-3 plastic storage bins stacked up. Try to have the device at eye level with you, or as close as possible. Sometimes, the sound quality is better if the device is on something soft--like a pillow or blanket. If all else fails, you could have another person hold the device for you.

What pieces should I submit for my audition recordings?

  • Submit video or audio recordings of one or two solo pieces that best represent your musical ability on your major instrument or voice.

What if I need an accompanist?

  • If your piece calls for piano accompaniment, we highly recommend you use it. There are several options:
  • You may perform with an accompanist from your community who can be in the room with you while you record your audition (please practice safe physical distancing).
  • You may perform with a recorded accompaniment that you already have access to or that someone in your community creates for you.
  • Or, you may send a copy of your music to staff accompanist Emily Valine, and she will record the accompaniment for you to perform with. Please allow 10-14 days to receive your recording before the date you plan to record.
  • If you are performing with a recorded accompaniment, we recommend that you play the track from a device connected to a Bluetooth or other external speaker for better sound quality on your recording.

I don't have my own instrument or can't go to school to get it. What should I do?

  • Please let us know right away (email Emily Valine) and we will work with you on finding a solution so that you can still audition!

What should I wear for my audition?

  • Even for recorded auditions, we encourage you to wear something that looks nice and is comfortable. Formal attire is not required, but we encourage you to dress in a professional manner that will help give a good impression.

What if I have never sung or played a solo before?

  • Since this is a music ensemble scholarship, we realize that many excellent ensemble members often haven't done a lot of solo work. However, the process of auditioning as a soloist allows the faculty to observe a student's individual musical ability and how that student would contribute to an ensemble.
  • Your high school band, orchestra, or choir director will be able to help you select a solo that is within your ability and help you prepare it.

May I audition on more than one instrument, or on both an instrument and voice?

  • Yes. This may increase your scholarship; for example, you could potentially receive $1,500 per year to play the oboe in band and another $1,000 to sing in choir. However, you will need to continue participating in both ensembles every semester in order to maintain your full scholarship amount.
  • You may also choose to audition in one area and maintain consistent participation in that ensemble for your scholarship, while also exploring other music ensembles throughout your college career!
  • If you choose to submit auditions for more than one instrument, you'll only need to schedule one interview with the music faculty.

May I audition on piano?

  • This ensemble scholarship is geared toward singers, string players, and wind, brass, and percussion players who participate in choir, orchestra, or band.
  • If you are interested in studying piano as a music major or minor, contact Dr. Nicholas Susi for more information about the piano program at CSS and scholarship opportunities for pianists.

I'm a MN All-State student and received a letter about an automatic Sister Monica scholarship. Do I still need to audition?

  • Minnesota All-State Music students receive an automatic award of $1,500 per year. You must register for and continue participating in a music ensemble in order to receive this scholarship.
  • All-State students are strongly encouraged to apply and audition for the Sister Monica Scholarship as well. By applying, submitting an audition video, and doing an interview with the music faculty, you may receive an additional scholarship amount on top of your automatic award. This additional scholarship amount is not guaranteed, but is based on your score in the on-campus audition.
  • If you intend to accept the automatic award of $1,500 without auditioning for a potential additional amount, you must contact the music faculty to accept the award by May 30.

I'm a second- (or third- or fourth-) year student. May I audition for a Sister Monica scholarship?

  • This scholarship is designed for and available to incoming first-year students only.

When will I find out the results of my scholarship audition?

  • After each round of auditions and interviews, the music faculty and staff will compile scores and determine award amounts. You will receive a phone call with your results about 1-2 weeks after your interview (the timeline varies depending on which date you choose).
  • Soon after this phone call, you'll also receive an email with your results. If you are awarded a scholarship, you must reply to this email within the time specified in order to accept the scholarship.