FAQs for Music Applicants

Do you prefer audio or video?
You can submit either audio or video, we have no particular preference. If you have a choice of audio or video, you should choose the one that has the best sound quality.

How important is the quality of the recording?
The quality of the recording is often a factor in selection of finalists. Make sure the recording is such that your performance can be clearly evaluated. It is in the student’s best interest to present his or her instrument or voice as naturally as possible.

 How do I make a recording?
Most students do not have access to high-end recording facilities, and there are no guarantees that a costly recording will result in a scholarship. There are a number of excellent-quality digital recorders available. An external mic for your video camera is another option, and there are great options for laptops and mobile phones. Examples are Zoom H2 or H3 recorders, which yield excellent audio recordings; Zoom iQ7 is one example of a good external mic for use with the iPhone video feature. (St. Olaf doesn’t endorse any particular brand; these are simply examples of available options.) You can also check with your teachers, schools, local churches, or universities to see if they have recording equipment available. Make sure the microphone is placed so YOU can be clearly heard. We recommend you have a teacher or other informed musician listen to the recording to make sure that it is a good representation of your abilities.

May I edit my recording?
The recording may be stopped between selections, but editing or any digital manipulation (such as splicing different takes or adding reverb) within individual pieces is not acceptable.

Should I put all my pieces in one track or separate tracks?
We prefer separate tracks for each of your individual pieces and scales. You will upload them individually and label them with the composer and the title of the piece after uploading.

What recording format should I use?
You should use the highest-quality recording you can. Each file you upload can be up to 2 GB. See Application Instructions for file types accepted.

What should I include on my music resumé?
The music online music application will have a resume template which you can fill out, or you can create and upload your own document (such as a Word or PDF document). You should include the following information:

• Your private study for the past three years and principal and secondary instruments — include teachers’ names, dates of study, and repertoire studied and performed

• Large ensemble experiences in the past four years — include school, church, community and regional ensembles, and names of the conductors

• Chamber music experience and repertoire performed

• Musical honors or awards (including all-state ensembles, adjudicated contests, etc.)

• Other information that you feel is relevant to your application

Most students arrange information either chronologically or by subject. Your high school experiences are the most relevant.

Do I need a pianist on my audition recording?
Singers should have a pianist unless they are performing a piece intended for unaccompanied solo voice. Instrumentalists are not required to have a pianist, but a well-prepared pianist can be a positive addition to your recording. Instrumentalists will not be marked down for playing without accompaniment.

Is there a form for the teacher recommendation? May my teacher send the recommendation separately?
Once you enter the online music application recommendation section, we will ask you to provide your teacher’s name and email address.  The online music application will then immediately send them a recommendation request via email,  which will provide them with a secure URL at which they can upload a recommendation directly to your online music application. You’ll receive a confirmation email when your teacher submits the recommendation online, so you know that we have received it.  If your teacher is unable to use this online method (i.e., they don’t have an email address) you may have them mail their recommendation directly to me via U.S. mail.

When I go to the online music application, it only gives me the option of opening my regular college application.  How can I start a new music application?
If you’ve already begun your college application, the dropbox link will take you to your account management portal.  In order to start a new Music application, at the first dialog box (“Application Details”) click  CANCEL and then you’ll be able to access the “Start New Application” link beneath it. Click on 2018, then Music Scholarships, and you’ll be on your way.


There are two audition weekends.  Will I be able to choose?

We will do everything we can to accommodate your request for a date, but certain instrument areas will have limited options (particularly certain instruments including horn, saxophone, bassoon, oboe). The specific dates available will be included in the invitation letter in late January. (See timeline below.)

What’s the schedule of events like during audition weekend?
Auditions are held Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, both weekends. There will be open classes on Friday if you wish to come early. There will be rehearsals open for observing on Friday afternoon. Each day there are “Meet the Faculty” sessions just before lunch. Campus tours will be offered, as will overnights with a current student.  Admissions staff will be present throughout the weekend. Financial aid staff is available (appointment recommended).

Should I perform the same music for my live audition that I submitted for my screening audition?
The requirement guidelines are the same, but is preferred that you prepare at least one piece that is different from your recorded audition. Additionally, instrumentalists can expect sight-reading and scales.

Will I have time to warm up before my audition?
You will be assigned a warm-up space for 30 minutes prior to your audition.

Do I need an accompanist?
Instrumentalists are not required to have an accompanist, and St. Olaf will not provide one for you. If you have a pianist you would like to bring with you, that’s perfectly OK.
If you are a vocalist, St. Olaf will provide a pianist for you, and your pianist will join you for the last 15 minutes of your warm-up time, immediately before your audition, to run through your pieces. If you have a particularly difficult accompaniment, you may e-mail (boes1@stolaf.edu) or fax (507-786-3125) it to me ahead of time. Please make sure to write your name on each page.
Please have your pianist’s music bound in a three-ring binder with two-sided copies, optimized for page-turns.  Photocopies are acceptable if you have the original music with you. You do not need to provide the listening committee with a copy of the music.
If you are a vocal finalist and you plan to bring your own accompanist, please let Molly Boes (boes1@stolaf.edu) know at least one week before auditions, so other arrangements aren’t made unnecessarily. 

How many scholarships are awarded?
We expect to award approximately 30 (each) of the Christiansen and Cassler scholarships each year. The awards are distributed across vocal and instrumental, and vary somewhat each year, depending on the applicant pool and the needs within the department.

How many music majors apply and are admitted?
Our target number is 76 first-year music majors. We generally receive about 360 music major applications, approximately 140 of whom are admitted to one of the music majors.  Admission to the B.M. Performance major is more competitive than admission to the B.A. music major.


Music Application Timeline

September 15–December 15, 2017
Scholarship and music major applications accepted
via St. Olaf music online music application

Begin (or finish) your St. Olaf College Application for Admission

January 1, 2018
Completed St. Olaf College Application is strongly
encouraged for music applicants.

January 15, 2018
Completed St. Olaf College application for admission
must be on file in the admissions office

January 25, 2018
Audition results and invitations for live auditions are mailed
to all music applicants

February 23-24 and March 2-3, 2018
On-campus auditions for music major and scholarship finalists

Mid-March 2018
Audition results (admission and award decisions)
mailed to all finalists

May 1, 2018
National Candidate Reply date (date by which all students must
respond to offers of college admission and to scholarship awards)

For more information regarding music scholarships
and/or admission to the music program contact:

Molly Boes, Assistant Dean of Fine Arts Recruitment
1520 St. Olaf Ave.
Northfield, MN  55057