Why are upper-level horn and trumpet players given a transposition sight-reading exercise? What is it like?

  • All horn and trumpet players seeking membership in the Vermont Youth Philharmonia or Vermont Youth Orchestra should prepare to play a simple sight reading excerpt in transposition. Players aiming to join or remain in Vermont Youth Sinfonia are not required to play this exercise (but may do so if they wish)
  • Transposition is an essential skill for orchestral horn and trumpet players since much of the pre-20th century orchestral repertoire is scored for horns and trumpets in varying keys
  • Excerpts to be sight read will be similar in character to classical-era horn and trumpet parts (e.g. Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven) – primarily triadic and stepwise patterns. Click to download example.
  • Horn players should be prepared to transpose to E-flat (down a whole step from F horn) and D (down a minor 3rd)
  • Trumpet players should be prepared to transpose to F (up a fifth from B-flat trumpet) and C (up a whole step)
  • While weakness in transposition skills won’t preclude a placement in VYO/VYP, students will be expected to improve those skills significantly to maintain participation in those ensembles

What will happen in the sight reading portion of the audition?

  • You will be given two short (16 measures or less) passages to sight read
  • The level of difficulty of the passages chosen for you will be determined by your experience level
  • One passage will be lyrical and may include accidentals. It will be fully marked with dynamics, slurs and articulations. Bowings will be marked for string players
  • One passage will be a rhythmic exercise on one or two pitches
  • You can download sight reading examples from a previous year here

What scale and arpeggio should I choose?

  • Your private teacher or school music teacher is the best guide for choosing the scale and determining the number of octaves, tempo, rhythm and articulation pattern, etc.
  • This year (2014) we are providing recommendations for audition scales based on a student’s current technical level and/or ensemble membership. Download these recommendations here.
  • Your scale and arpeggio should go up and then return downward to the initial note
  • A very slow tempo with long notes is not recommended. Please play no slower than half notes at tempo of quarter note=60 beats per minute

What if my solo is shorter/longer than 5 minutes?

  • Playing a shorter solo will have no impact on your audition results, as long as the solo conveys your current levels of skill and experience
  • A solo selection that offers both lyrical and technical passages is recommended, regardless of length
  • If your solo is much longer than 5 minutes, you may be asked to skip ahead after a few minutes if a later section in your solo will provide useful information to the panel

What should I choose for my solo?

  • Your primary advisor for choosing a solo is your private teacher. If you do not currently study privately, ask your school music teacher for advice on solo selection
  • It is better to choose a less “flashy” solo and play it very well than to choose a more advanced solo and struggle when you perform it
  • Also, it is better to play a portion of your solo (e.g. the first half or two thirds or final half) in a refined, polished manner than try to play the whole thing at a lower level of preparation
  • An ideal solo will offer contrast between technically challenging and lyrical sections. If your solo doesn’t provide this type of contrast you may want to bring an additional selection that provides that contrasting content

What do I need to prepare for my audition?

A Prepared Scale and Arpeggio (major or minor, any number of octaves, both ascending and descending) that represents your current level of playing. Please consult this document for the scale and arpeggio keys and ranges recommended for students based on their current technical level or ensemble assignment.

Prepared Solo Selection(s) (without accompaniment) that represent(s) your current level of playing. Ideally, your solo would include contrasting lyrical and technical sections. Solos that are primarily technical are generally sufficient; however, we recommend that lyrical solos with little or no technical passagework be avoided. It is permissible to present two separate, contrasting solos. You will have the opportunity to play ~5 minutes of your solo; if your solo is significantly longer, you may be asked to skip a portion of it. Please bring two additional copies  of your solo music for the Audition Committee (these can be photocopies).

Sight Reading:  You will play short melodic and rhythmic sight reading exercises suitable to the level of development you display in your prepared materials. Previous years’ sight reading exercises are available for download here.

Transposition: Horn and Trumpet players currently in the Vermont Youth Orchestra or Vermont Youth Philharmonia or seeking placement in those ensembles should be prepared for simple sight reading using D and E-flat transpositions (Horn) and C and F transpositions (Trumpet). Sample transposition excerpt can be downloaded here.

Percussion auditions requirements are described here.