Mission and Mini Mission join an NIU ensemble rehearsal.

All NIU students, regardless of major are welcome to audition for a School of Music Large Ensemble. Some ensembles including World Music Ensembles, All-University Steelband, and University Chorus do not require an audition.

Large ensemble auditions for Fall 2021 will take place on Sunday, August 22 and Monday, August 23. Ensemble audition music and registration links are available below.

Ensemble Auditions

Audition Information

  • All undergraduate string, wind, and percussion students must appear for large ensemble auditions. Please prepare all audition materials thoroughly for your audition.
  • For any band or orchestral excerpts, please listen to representative recordings to learn the appropriate style, tempo and dynamics for the passage. Performing these aspects of the music correctly is a large part of the audition.
    • Learning the music, by analytical listening to multiple versions of the excerpts, will help you grow as a musician and will reflect positively on your audition placement.
    • Playing the right notes but in the wrong style or wrong tempo sends a different message to the audition panel.
    • Listen and analyze before you practice

  • Please make every effort to audition during the time frame designated for your instrument. Doing so gives you the best opportunity for the conductors to accurately assess your skills as compared to your colleagues.
  • Professional attire is expected.
  • Bring a copy of your class schedule to the auditions. The conductors may ask for it if needed.
  • Arrive early for your scheduled time. Be prepared to play early if requested to do so.

Ensemble Audition Music

Schedule your Ensemble Audition

Ensemble Times

  • Wind Symphony (MUSE 330/360)
    • M/W - 2:00 - 3:30 pm
  • Wind Ensemble (MUSE 331/631)
    • Tu/Th - 2:00 - 3:50 pm
    • M/W - 1:00 - 1:50 pm (sectionals)
  • NIU Philharmonic (MUSE 360/660)
    • M/W - 2:00 - 3:50 pm
    • Tu - 4:00 - 5:50 sectionals

Audition Information

Music and ensemble registration will be available on this website beginning August 2, 2021.

All jazz majors and any other students interested in participating in a jazz ensemble must complete an audition. A student’s audition will be used in determining placement in combos and big bands (JO/JE/U-Jazz).

Please read the following sections for audition requirements, excerpts, and ensemble audition registration.


  • Students will be expected to improvise on the blues form (Bb, F, Db medium and up tempo) and Rhythm” changes form (Bb, up tempo).
  • Blues melody of choice; improvise 2 choruses (*rhythm section players will also comp appropriate to style)
  • Rhythm changes or standard melody of choice; improvise 1 chorus*

Assigned audition excerpt:

  • Audition excerpts will be available on this page starting August 2, 2021.
  • Excepts will be specific to each studio.
  • Drummers will be expected to demonstrate Swing, Bossa Nova, Samba, Jazz Waltz, Jazz Ballad, Funk, ECM, Afro-Cuban and Mambo4 feels.

Sight reading

Music will be provided for sight-reading – lead sheet of standard or common jazz tune. Improvisation over the progression in the sight-reading examples may be expected as well.

Drummers will be given excerpt of big band drum part to demonstrate ability to read hits and play appropriate fills/set-ups.

Schedule your Ensemble Audition

Auditions will be available to schedule starting August 2, 2021.

Results will be posted and announced at the end of the first week of the semester and rehearsals will begin during the second week. Questions? Contact Professor Thomas (reggiethomas@niu.edu).

Ensemble Times

  • Jazz Orchestra
    • M/W 1 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
  • Jazz Ensemble
    • T/Th 4 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.
  • University Jazz Band 
    • M/W 5:40 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.
  • NIU Combos 
    • M/W 1 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.
    • T/Th 1 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.  



Greetings from Dr. Johnson and Dr. Doherty!

We are looking forward to meeting you at your audition this August and getting to know you in our ensembles.  For the 2021-22 academic year there are three curricular in which you could participate: two auditioned ensembles, (Concert Choir and Chamber Choir) and one open to all with no audition needed, University Chorus (info on each below).  Auditions for Concert Choir and Chamber Choir be held on Sunday August 22, 2:00-4:00PM and Monday August 23, 11 AM-4:00 PM. You can sign up for an audition slot right now through this link go.niu.edu/choralauditions.

For the audition this year, you should prepare the excerpt from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. This beautiful excerpt will be a perfect vehicle to demonstrate your vocal technique and musicality. As you prepare the score, please think about adding dynamic shaping and phrasing that reveals your musical expression.

In addition to singing the Fauré excerpt, we will also ask you to sing some basic triads, sight read a simple phrase and do some vocalese to hear your full range.

Note to Returning voice students: Although we have worked together already, this audition is your opportunity to demonstrate your own musical and vocal growth over the last time we heard you sing alone. We want you hear what you’ve accomplished over the summer!!

One word of advice, as you work out your course schedule, please notice the choral rehearsal times.  If, for example, you are auditioning for Concert Choir, it would wise to keep the rehearsal times open in your schedule.  It is possible to make changes to your schedule once you get to campus, but easier to do it up front.

Choral Ensembles

  • Concert Choir: Mon/Wed 2:00-1:50 AND Tue/Thur 2:00-3:15. This is an auditioned large ensemble. The group has both music majors and non-majors with good music skills.  Many of the non-music majors come from strong HS choral programs and they are looking for the challenges and rewards of advanced choral music. Concert Choir often performs for area high schools and short run-out concerts. In the spring, Concert Choir often performs large choral orchestral works with the NIU Philharmonic. This ensemble is conducted by Dr. Johnson.

  • Chamber Choir: Mon/Wed 1:00-1:50. This is a select mixed vocal ensemble of 16-20 singers that focuses on advanced ensemble repertoire. Personal performance expectations are high as singers are often assigned one or two voices per part. Chamber Choir often performs off campus events representing the university as various official functions. Enrollment is open to all NIU students through the audition process, but there is a high degree of music reading proficiency and outside class independent work expected. This ensemble is conducted by Dr. Johnson.
  • University Chorus: Mon/Wed 3:30-4:45 PM. This is a non-auditioned choir. This is a SATB ensemble.  University Chorus is often a mix of instrumental music majors and singers from other majors across campus who had great high school choral experiences and they just want to keep singing in college. This ensemble is conducted by Dr. Doherty.

If you have any questions, please email us at Dr. Johnson (ejohnsn@niu.edu) or Dr. Doherty (mdoherty@niu.edu).  We are looking forward to making music with you this fall!

Opera Theatre is a great opportunity for students to learn more about opera and expand their musical and performance experiences. Opera Theatre is competitive, and spots are traditionally given to sophomores – seniors. As a first-year student, it is strongly encouraged that you speak with your voice studio instructor about your interest and involvement in Opera Theatre prior to auditioning.

  • Fall semester - opera scenes
  • Spring semester - staged opera with NIU Philharmonic

As part of your audition, you will be required to perform two different works. It is recommended that one piece is in a foreign language. Repertoire selections may include Arias from standard operatic repertoire. Please make sure you bring two additional copies of your repertoire - one for the pianist and one for the panel.

Schedule your Opera Theatre audition at go.niu.edu/operaauditions

Ensemble Times

  • Tu: 3:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Th: 3:30 – 5:30 pm

The All-University Steelband is open to any student, regardless of major (music and non-music). The ability to read music is preferred.

Please contact Professor Liam Teague at lteague@niu.edu to enroll in Steelband I or if you have questions about any steelpan ensemble.

Ensemble Times

All University Steelband (MUSE 373/673)

  • Tu/Th: 4:30 – 5:30 pm

Steelband I (MUSE 372/672)

  • M/Tu/W/Th: 1:00 – 1:50 pm

We have numerous additional World Music ensembles for students to participate in addition to our Steelpan ensembles. There is no audition for many of these ensembles and all students are welcome to register and participate. Please contact Dr. Jui-Ching Wang at jcwang@niu.edu if you have questions.

Ensemble Times

Thai Ensemble (MUSE 321/621, sec. 2)

  • Tu: 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Indonesian Gamelan Ensemble (MUSE 370/670)

  • M: 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Chinese Music Ensemble (MUSE 375/675)

  • W: 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Banda NIU

Banda NIU is a new ensemble at NIU that honors the tradition of the great bandas of the western Mexican state of Sinaloa. Its long and rich history is drawn on collaboration between European immigrants to Mexico in the 1800s and popular Mexican song. The most popular subgenre of regional Mexican music, Banda relies solely on an instrumentation of wind instruments (unlike Mariachi and Noteño) featuring brass, clarinets, percussion and singers. Students interested in participating in Banda should contact Dr. Scanlon

Community School of the Arts

Non-music majors may also participate in the Community School of the Arts, which offers music lessons and ensembles for people in the community. The teachers are community musicians, as well as School of Music graduate and undergraduate students and faculty. These activities do not carry any credit hours. Visit the Office of External Programs to learn more.