Those wishing to pursue any Bachelor of Music degree (including the Bachelor of Music Education degree) should use the Conservatory of Music application available online.

Those wishing to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in music should complete the on-line application to the Liberal Arts College. The deadline for applications is January 10 for the following academic year.

In addition to the requirements for college admission, the following are required for all Conservatory of Music applicants:

  • an audition (see entrance requirements for Conservatory of Music majors below),
  • one Music Teacher Recommendation, and
  • a Music Information Profile (in which the applicant details training and experience).

Those interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music are admitted on the same basis as other Liberal Arts applicants, and should visit the Conservatory Academic Office (Armerding 217) to complete an assessment of piano proficiency a primary instrument evaluation, and the Music Fundamentals Test, before the first day of classes.

Current Liberal Arts students desiring to enroll in a B.M./B.M.E. degree program must complete the Music Information Profile, submit one Music Teacher Recommendation, and schedule an audition. Any student currently taking private lessons may, by prior arrangement, use the private lesson jury as an audition.

Entrance Requirements for Conservatory of Music Majors (Bachelor of Music & Bachelor of Music Education Degrees)

Auditions are required of all applicants to the Conservatory of Music. On-campus auditions are strongly recommended, and are required for applicants living within 350 miles of campus. Applicants living more than 350 miles from campus may submit a recorded audition, if necessary.

Instructions for Recorded Auditions

Students who live beyond 350 miles and are unable to play an on-campus audition, may submit a video recording, which should be of the best possible sound quality. It is important that students present themselves as professionally as possible; for example, pianists and accompanists should perform using the highest quality instrument available. Label the recording with the performer’s name, instrument or voice part, and audition repertoire. The recording may not be edited, except to add tracks or chapters. Please upload an audition to a video file hosting service (for example, YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, etc.) and send the link to music@wheaton.edu.

Repertoire requirements for recorded auditions are identical to those conducted on campus. Note: Instrumentalists should play two scales and two arpeggios (four total). Recorded auditions must be received by November 1 for Early Action and January 10 for Regular Action.

Audition Requirements

The requirements that follow are for Bachelor of Music in Performance majors (performance levels are adjusted for other music degrees). Repertoire equivalent in difficulty is acceptable. Memorization is required for piano and voice auditions and recommended for all others. See additional requirements for Composition, and History/Literature degrees.

Bassoon—Major and harmonic minor scales through four sharps and four flats; an etude that provides a good representation of technical development, such as one of the Weissenborn Advanced Studies. A solo work demonstrating maturity as a musician: inclusion of both a fast and slow movement preferred.

Cello—Three octave major and harmonic minor scales through four sharps and four flats; an etude of the applicant’s choice; a first movement of a concerto, such as Haydn C Major or Boccherini B-flat Major; a movement of a J.S. Bach suite.

Clarinet—Major and harmonic minor scales through four sharps and four flats (two octaves, tongued) E, F, and G scales should be three octaves. Two etudes of contrasting style: one demonstrating technical development, the other a slow etude from the Rose 32 Etudes. One solo piece from the following works: Weber Concertino, Weber Concerto No. 1 (first movement), or Mozart Concerto (first movement).

Doublebass—Three two-octave scales and one three-octave scale. An etude of the applicant’s choice, representing the highest level of technical achievement; two compositions of the applicant’s choice, at least of the difficulty level of the Eccles Sonata, or a concerto first movement; an orchestral excerpt, Mozart or Beethoven are recommended.

Euphonium—Major scales A-flat, D-flat, G-flat, B, and chromatic scale through two octaves. An etude from Rochuet/Bordogni Melodious Etudes or equivalent. A technical etude from Tyrell, Kopprasch, or Arbans. A solo, such as Andante and Allegro by Barat, or Sonatina by Hutchinson.

Flute—Prepare either: Exercise EJ#4, in its entirety, from Taffanel-Gaubert – 17 Grands Exercises Journaliers de Mecanisme – or a complete exercise from Reichert – Seven Daily Exercises, op.5. Prepare an Etude or Caprice by Anderson, Berbiguier or Karg Elert. Prepare a work of your choice and one complete work by Bach, Mozart, or Handel.

Guitar—Etudes by Brouwer, Sor, Cacassi, Carulli, Giuliani, or Aguado. Two contrasting pieces—one piece, slower in tempo, should demonstrate an ability to shape phrases and control rubatos, tenutos, and dynamics. The second piece should be faster in tempo, demonstrating a technical command of scales, arpeggios, slurs, shifts, etc. Any dances from the Lute works or Cello works of J.S. Bach will be especially valuable at the audition, although not required. Jazz Guitar: Solo guitar arrangement of a jazz standard and an ensemble (or play-along) rendition of an up-tempo bebop (blues, rhythm changes, etc.) composition with a chorus of improvisation.

Harp—Scales and Tonic Glissandos in all Keys. Etudes such as Salzedo: Conditioning Exercises for Harp or Salzedo/Lawrence: Method for the Harp. Two contrasting pieces such as: Sonata in C minor by Peschetti, Sonatina I, II by Dusek, The Harmonious Blacksmith by Handel/Salzedo, Impromptu Caprice by Pierne, A Ceremony of Carols by Britten, Concerto in B Flat by Handel, or any of the following pieces by Salzedo: Suite of Eight Dances, Song in the Night, Tango, or Rhumba.

Horn—Three pieces of contrasting styles by different composers and periods which demonstrate range, technique, lyrical style, and dynamic contrast. Those auditioning for performance should prepare several varied orchestral excerpts.

Oboe—Major and harmonic minor scales through four sharps and four flats. An etude that demonstrates the fullest extent of the student's technical development. Three important orchestral excerpts, contrasting in nature, such as Brahms Violin Concerto, 2nd mvt., Beethoven Symphony No. 3, Overture to Italian in Algiers by Rossini.

Organ—  (a) Two organ works of contrasting periods and styles, one fast and articulate, and the other slow and lyrical, demonstrating the student's best efforts and abilities; (b) one prepared hymn; (c) sight reading. 
Students with no previous organ study may elect to audition on piano with pieces such as 
1) two J.S. Bach Two- or Three-part Inventions,
2) a fast movement from a Classical sonata (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, et al.)
3) and a Romantic or 20th-century work.

Percussion—Performance on snare drum, keyboard percussion, and timpani. Any solo, etude, or excerpt that best reflects the student's experience and ability as a percussionist in these areas will be accepted.

Piano (Bachelor of Music in Performance)—Three compositions:

  1. a Bach three-part Sinfonia or a Prelude and Fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier;
  2. an Allegro movement from a sonata by Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven (achievement level of at least Haydn D Major, Hob.XVI:37, Mozart K. 282, or Beethoven Op. 79);
  3. either a nineteenth- or a twentieth-century work (achievement level of at least Schubert Impromptu, Op. 142 No. 2, Bartok Sonatina, or Debussy Arabesque).
  • Prepare four major and four harmonic minor scales: two should begin on a black note and two on a white note, each performed over a four-octave span, hands together, minimum quarter note = 84, 4 notes per beat. Major and minor triad arpeggios in the same sharp keys and flat keys, four-octave span, hands together, minimum quarter note = 72, 4 notes per beat.
  • Applicants also must submit a repertoire list of significant works performed over the last four years.

Piano (All other music degrees)—Three compositions:

  1. a Bach two-part Invention;
  2. an Allegro movement from an easier sonata by Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven (achievement level of at least Beethoven Op. 49 No. 1 or Mozart K. 545);
  3. either a nineteenth- or twentieth-century work (achievement level of at least Chopin Prelude Op. 28 No. 6, Schumann Scenes of Childhood, Roy Harris Little Suite, Kabalevsky Sonatina Op. 13 No. 1).
  • Prepare four major and four harmonic minor scales: two should begin on a black note and two on a white note, each performed over a four-octave span, hands together, minimum quarter note = 72, 4 notes per beat. Major and minor triad arpeggios in the same sharp keys and flat keys, four-octave span, hands together, minimum quarter note = 60, 4 notes per beat.
  • Applicants also must submit a repertoire list of significant works performed over the last four years.

Saxophone—Major and harmonic minor scales through four sharps and four flats; these scales should be played the full range of the instrument. Chromatic scale throughout the full range of the instrument. Two etudes of contrasting style: one demonstrating technical development, the other a slow etude. (i.e. the Ferling Studies.) These studies should demonstrate the fullest extent of the student's musical development. A major work such as the Glazounov Concerto or the Creston Sonata.

Trombone— Major scales A-flat, D-flat, G-flat, B, and chromatic scale through two octaves. An etude from Rochuet/Bordogni Melodious Etudes or equivalent. A technical etude from Tyrell, Kopprasch, or Arbans. An etude from Blazhevich Studies in Clefs (Alto and Tenor Clef). A solo such as Guilmant: Morceau Symphonique, David, Larsson. Bass trombone: Solo such as Lebedev, McCarty, Three Easy Pieces by Hindemith, or Concertino by Lieb.

Trumpet—Three contrasting trumpet solos that demonstrate an understanding of style, interpretation, and phrasing, as well as tone quality, dynamics, range, and technique. Select solos from three different historic/stylistic periods. For example: Handel, Concerto in D Minor, Hummel, Concerto in E-flat Major, and the Concerto by Arutunian. Please play only representative passages from the solos. Also include three orchestral excerpts.

Tuba—Major scales A-flat, D-flat, G-flat, B, and chromatic scale through two octaves. A legato etude from Concone, Fink, or Bordegni/Rochnet. A technical etude from Tyrell, Kopprasch, or Arbans. A solo such as Suite for Tuba by Hadad, Concertino by Frackenpuhl, Air and Bourée by Bach, Adagio and Allegro by Telemann.

Viola— Scales and Arpeggios: D major and D minor (harmonic or melodic) 3-octave scales and arpeggios to be played slurring three notes at a time. One etude from Kreutzer, Mazas, Campagnoli, or Fuchs. Two contrasting movements from Bach – Cello Suites, Violin Sonatas and Partitas. One movement from a substantial work such as: Hoffmeister- Concerto in D Major (mvt I), Stamitz- Concerto in D Major (mvt 1 or 3), Bloch- Suite Hebraique (mvt 1), J.C Bach-Concerto (mvt 1 or 3), Hindemith- Der Schwanendreher (mvt 1 or 2), Schumann- Fairy Tales (any mvt), Schubert- Arpeggione Sonata (any mvt), Walton- Concerto for Viola (mvt I), Bartok- Concerto for Viola (mvt 1), Brahms- Sonatas Op. 120 No. 1 or 2 (any mvt), Bruch- Romance.

Violin—Three octave major and melodic minor scales and arpeggios through four sharps and four flats; a movement of a solo Bach sonata or partita; an etude, such as Kreutzer, Dont, or Rode; a first movement of a standard concerto, such as Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bruch, Lalo, or Barber. Applicants are welcome to demonstrate any work they may have done in improvisation or composition.

Voice—Three songs of contrasting nature:  1) An Italian, German, or French art song; 2) An American or British art song; 3) Own choice. Tonal quality, pitch perception, and poetic sense will be evaluated along with sight singing and rhythm. An accompanist is provided for all voice auditions. Please notify the Conservatory Admissions Counselor if you will not need the staff accompanist.

Additional Requirements for the Bachelor of Music in Composition Degree

Bachelor of Music (Composition). In addition to the primary instrument audition, applicants should submit a portfolio of three to four original compositions (no arrangements), preferably with recordings. Compositions will be evaluated based on the following criteria: originality, musical interest, quality of instrumental/vocal writing, and accuracy of notation. An interview with the composition faculty is also required.

Performance Opportunities

The Conservatory of Music maintains six large-scale performing ensembles: Concert Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Men's Glee Club, Symphonic Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Women's Chorale. Performance opportunities are numerous and varied, including on-campus concerts and off-campus presentations in churches, schools, and concert halls.

Student recitals and studio classes are held regularly; junior and senior recitals are presented throughout the school year. Additional performance opportunities are available through the percussion ensemble, jazz combos, and string, woodwind, and brass chamber music ensembles. Opera Mainstage stages a full production every year and Opera Workshop presents at the end of spring semester.

The Conservatory’s annual Concerto Competition features divisional competitions for keyboard, winds/percussion, strings, and voice. Divisional winners perform with the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra on the Concert Competition Honors Concert. A Finalist is chosen from among the divisional winners and becomes the recipient of the Ben Heppner Prize. The winning piece of the annual Composition Competition is also performed on the Concerto Competition Honors Concert. A Chamber Music Competition is also held annually. Winners of the Concerto and Chamber Music Competitions are featured at the Commencement Celebration Concert.

Other Music Opportunities

The Wheaton College Artist Series brings to campus such internationally renowned artists and ensembles as Sylvia McNair, Canadian Brass, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and conductor Lorin Maazel. The Faculty Recital Series features a variety of faculty soloists and ensembles, emphasizing the integration of teaching and performing.

Off-campus summer programs include Arts in London. Contact Conservatory of Music for further information.

Membership in the Music Educator's National Conference (MENC) is open to all students and faculty. Local collegiate MENC chapter meetings are held, field trips are taken, and participation in state and national conferences and clinics is encouraged. Membership in the student chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) is open to organists as well as others seeking extracurricular experience in church music and professional organ playing. Participation in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) is open to voice students and offers competitive experiences, as well as special events for young singers. Membership in the international Percussive Arts Society (PAS) is open to percussion students. Benefits include access to publications, online research tools and the annual convention (PASIC), which features concerts, clinics, master classes and presentations, showcasing all areas of percussion. Students interested in choral conducting are encouraged to join the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and attend state, divisional and national conferences.

Music Resources

The music holdings of the Buswell Memorial Library include 7,000 music books, 12,000 scores, 60 music journal subscriptions, 5,000 audio compact discs and a total of 11,000 recordings, and the Naxos Music Library streaming service. There are seven listening stations, as well as a group listening room and a seminar room. In addition, the library holds the complete works of 60 composers.

The Music Technology Lab includes 12 workstations each with Kawai 88-note weighted action digital pianos. 6 workstations are equipped with an Apple Mac Mini with MIDI connections to the pianos. Installed software includes Finale 2011 and Sibelius 6.

Trackside Studio houses a complete 5.1 surround sound system utilizing sound modules from Korg, Kurzweil and Roland. Installed software includes Logic Studio 9, Pro Tools 9, Finale 2011, and Sibelius 6 along with many 3rd party virtual instruments and plugins.

Shea Studio, located in the Billy Graham Center, is a state-of-the-art, 5.1 surround sound Pro Tools/HD based digital recording studio.

Conservatory keyboard instruments include a four-manual, 50-stop, 70-rank Casavant mechanical action organ, Op. 3796 (2001), with dual mechanical action and digital consoles, the largest of its type in the area. A two-manual and pedal mechanical action organ of 14-stops and 17 ranks by Charles Hendrickson was installed in Pierce Chapel in 2011. In addition, the Conservatory has available a number of other organs for practice and performance, including a two-manual Schlicker, two two-manual Roderer mechanical-action instruments, an additional two-manual tracker by Charles Ruggles, and a continuo-portative organ built by Thomas Donahue after Gerhard Brunzema. Harpsichords include instruments by Kingston, Broekman and Sabathil; four concert grand pianos, including a handmade Shigeru Kawai EX 9’ concert grand, and approximately 90 teaching and practice pianos. More than 300 orchestral instruments are available for training, practice and performance.