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Saxophone Scholarship Audition Information


What to expect – a typical audition consists of playing one or more pieces from the standard repertory that the student has prepared, scales as requested by the instructor, sight-reading, and (optionally) a prepared jazz piece – possibly a solo, etude, or transcription – and an improvised solo.  While auditioning on alto saxophone is not mandatory, it is desirable that at least one selection be performed on alto, and it should be understood that students’ lessons will primarily be on the alto saxophone.


  • Standard Repertory – one or more solo or etude excerpts that demonstrate technical proficiency on the saxophone as well musicality, ideally in contrasting styles.  The Kentucky All-State material from the current or previous years may be used as part of the audition; other examples may be found below.  The pieces do not have to be memorized.


Composer Title Prepare
 Eugene Bozza  Aria  whole piece
 Pierre Lantier  Sicilienne  whole piece
 Handel/Rascher  Sonata III or XIII  2 contrasting movements
 Lawson Lunde  Sonata  2 movements
 Bernhard Heiden  Sonata  movements 1 and 2 or movement 3
 Paul Creston  Sonata  2 movements
 W. Ferling  48 Famous studies  2 contrasting etudes
 Gatti/Iasilli  35 Melodious Technical Ex.  2 contrasting etudes
  •  Scales – it is expected that students would know at a minimum the major scales through four sharps and four flats (minimum) and a chromatic scale. These scales should be performed from memory and should include the full range of the horn.  Students who do not know these scales are still encouraged to audition, but they should expect to learn them quickly upon admission to the Music program.
  • Sight-reading – the best way to “practice” sight-reading is to sight-read regularly, paying close attention not only to notes and rhythms but also to dynamics, articulations, and other musical nuances.
  • Jazz solo, etude, or transcription (optional) – common examples include etudes from “Jazz Conception for Saxophone” (Int. or Adv.) by Lennie Niehaus, one of the etude books by Bob Mintzer, the Charlie Parker Omnibook, or similar etude books or transcription anthologies.
  • Improvised solo (optional) – students are encouraged to improvise a solo over a blues progression, “rhythm changes,” or other standard chord progression.  A limited number of playalong CD’s may be available; students are encouraged to bring an accompaniment CD or make arrangements for one to be provided prior to the audition.


Auditions follow a similar format; students are expected to be familiar with major and natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales in all 12 keys as well as the chromatic scale using the full range of the horn.  Suggested solo literature should include pieces of appropriate technical and interpretive difficulty; some examples include the Sonataby Paul Creston, Sonataby Robert Muczynski, and Caprice en forme de valseby Paul Bonneau.

 For more information regarding saxophone auditions and admission contact Dr. Larry Nelson at (859)622-5006 or

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