Become a Major

To major in Music at SSU, one must:

1)  schedule and pass a Music Department audition

2)  be admitted as a student to SSU

You do not need to be admitted to the University before auditioning for the Department of Music.  You must, however, be admitted to the University before enrolling in Music courses the semester you begin your degree.  The application period for the University is October 1st through November 30th, and the information is available on the University's Admissions pages.  Auditioning for acceptance into the Department of Music is a separate procedure from University Admissions.

In addition to the audition, prospective majors must submit electronically (before the audition) two letters of recommendation and transcripts from the last two years of school to john.palmer@sonoma.edu

Audition Dates

Once you have applied to the university you can schedule an Audition to become a Music Major on one of the Department of Music Audition Days. 

  • 7 November 2020 (submit request by 30 December 2020)
  • 30 January 2021 (submit request by 22 January 2021)      
  • 13 February 2021 (submit request by 5 February 2021)

Audition Request Form

To arrange an audition complete the  Music Major Audition Request Form.and submit it by the request deadline.  Prospective students living more than 250 miles from SSU may send recorded auditions, either on disc or as a link to an online video. 

Audition Requirements

  • All auditions, live or recorded, must include two pieces in contrasting styles that can be performed within the 10-minute limit and that demonstrate accurate rhythms, pitch control and interpretive awareness.  Prospective students are encouraged to consult the four-year repertoire cycle for their appropriate instrument for appropriate repertoire suggestions.
  • An accompanist will be provided for vocalists (applicants must provide piano/vocal score in a binder with music printed back to back).
  • A drum set and amps are provided for Jazz applicants (bring your own cord).
  • Applicants should bring three copies of their music for the committee.
  • Instrumentalists shall prepare two major scales and one minor scale in all three forms (natural, harmonic, and melodic).
  • Percussionists (Classical) must perform on snare drum, timpani, and mallet instrument
  • Jazz  students may perform with an Aebersold-style play-along CD or digital file or a live rhythm section.  Jazz drummers must demonstrate various styles, including swing, jazz waltz, funk, and Latin.
  • Music Education students in addition shall write a one-paragraph statement on why they wish to teach.
  • Composition students in addition to auditioning on their major instrument/voice submit two notated scores and recordings of their original work. 

Audition Day - What to Expect

The Department will schedule a time for your audition and a possible a lesson with one of the Music Department's private instructors.  You will be notified of these times by Email approximately a week before your audition date.  When you arrive, please check in at the table set up in the Schroeder Hall lobby.  Auditions will take place onstage in Schroeder Hall, and you should be backstage a few minutes before your scheduled time.  Department representatives will be there to help you find your way around. 

You will take a Music Theory Placement exam at any time between 9:00 and the end of auditions that day.  The exam, on theory fundamentals, should require no more than 20 minutes to complete.  The results have no bearing on whether or not you will be admitted to the program, so do not worry if you cannot answer the questions.  We use the exam to place you in the appropriate theory course, should you be admitted. 

When possible, we provide a tour of the Green Music Center complex, typically between 12:00 and 1:00.  When you check in you will receive information about a tour.  Parents may accompany you on the tour, but not the audition. 

The Department will send the results of the audition roughly a week after the audition date. 

Want to come for a visit on a regular school day?

  • Get a tour of the music facility.  
  • Observe a Music Class. 
  • Observe, or sit in on an ensemble rehearsal.  
  • Meet with the Chair of the Department of Music  
  • and/or with a Program/Ensemble Director or Conductor  
  • Have a trial private lesson (if lesson teacher is available)

Fill out this form to plan your visit!

International Students from China 

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Music Admissions Decisions

Music audition results will be sent within two weeks after the audition. All students will be considered for a music scholarship during the November, January and April audition dates based on the level of performance exhibited during the audition. To be fully considered for a music scholarship, please bring with you on the audition day, two letters of recommendation and unofficial transcripts from the last two years of school.Music Scholarship decisions will be made approximately two weeks after the March auditions. They range in size from $500 to Full Tuition. Details about the generosity of our music scholarhips can be found on our Music Scholarships page. 

Recorded Audition Materials 

If you live more than 250 miles away, and cannot attend an in-person audition, you may submit recorded audition materials in the form of a CD, DVD, YouTube link or Soundcloud link. 

Email link to john.palmer@sonoma.edu or send recorded auditions along with a cover letter to:

Music Department (Audition Materials)
Sonoma State University
1801 E. Cotati Ave.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928 

Acceptance & Programs

Upon your acceptance to the Department of Music you will declare your major from one of the five options:

  • Bachelor of Arts -  Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor of Music - Composition and Technology
  • Bachelor of Music - Performance
  • Bachelor of Music - Jazz Studies
  • Bachelor of Music - Music Education

Proficiency Expectations

Basic keyboard skills and the ability to read standard musical notation are prerequisites to the music major curriculum. All entering and transfer students will be given placement examinations in piano, music theory, and aural skills (sight-singing and dictation) during orientation. Students with inadequate preparation in keyboard will be expected to take MUS 109 Intensive Keyboard Lab I. Students without background in any of these areas will also be expected to take MUS 106 Fundamentals.

We look forward to your enrollment!