Audition FAQs

Audition information

To be considered for membership of an orchestra at the National Youth Orchestra Course or any other SANYOF programme for 2017, you must play a recorded audition in one of the main centres. The regional recorded audition tour will commence (for all programmes) in February and March 2017.
If you would like your city to be included as an audition centre in 2017, please make sure there are at least 15 candidates auditioning from that area and we will consider traveling to you. Contact if you want to qualify.

The musicians range in age from 13 to 25 years, play an orchestral or wind band instrument (for Winter Course) and have a minimum grade 7 music level.
Auditions for orchestra courses happen country-wide in February and March 2017.

Audition Dates – Venues are still TBC:
Bloemfontein: 13 March 2017
Cape Town: 1 and 2 March 2017
Durban: 4 March 2017
Johannesburg: 24 February and 10 March 2017
Port Elizabeth: 6 and 7 March 2017
Potchefstroom: 14 March 2017
Pretoria: 27 February and 11 March 2017
Stellenbosch: 2 March 2017

Winter Course in Port Elizabeth, 30 June – 09 July 2017.

Summer Course in Johannesburg, 07 – 17 December 2017.

Application for Nationals 2017: OPEN and the application FORM is now available.


Recorded auditions

Play one piece and one study of your choice. Please make sure it is of minimum Grade 7 standard. If in doubt please consult the UNISA, ABRSM or Trinity College syllabus, and ask your teacher to help you.

Maximum time: 5 minutes – if you feel you can demonstrate your ability in less time, this is perfectly acceptable, but make sure you have given a clear indication of what you are capable of, and ask your teacher to help you select your audition material.

Play your pieces for an audience (anyone who will listen – your friends, your family…) until you are completely comfortable with them. Doing this helps immensely when you come to your audition slot as you will feel more confident because you know your pieces well.

Live auditions at the National Youth Orchestra Course

Live auditions will be held behind screen on the first day of course for an expert audition panel. Full parts will be sent out before the time to participants who have been accepted for course.


Accompanists are not allowed at recorded auditions or live auditions.


All applicants will be identified by a number only. Audition recordings will be reviewed by selected members of the South African National Youth Orchestra audition committee all of them with substantial orchestral and or teaching experience.

Auxiliary instruments

Applicants are encouraged to audition on auxiliary instruments (eg oboe and cor anglais, flute and piccolo) as well as their primary instrument. Your auxiliary instrument will count in your favour as it gives you more chances at placement in an orchestra. We will have your best interests at heart when deciding on your placement. Auxilliary instrument applications will be given two separate audition times. You are required to do full auditions on both instruments.

Percussion auditions

Percussion auditions will take place on the first day of the course. No pre-recorded audition is necessary, but if we have a large number of applicants we will require recommendations from your teacher. Please see “Percussion audition guidelines”. Please note that percussion auditions will not be behind-screen, but the panel will not include any participants’ teacher. All percussion entrants must have a letter from their teacher stating that they are at the required standard of Unisa, ABRSM or Trinity College Grade 7 or its equivalent.

Violin auditions

Three applicants will be selected from the live auditions to audition for the position of concert master of each orchestra at the course. These applicants will do an additional 30 minute live audition with the conductor on the first day of the course.

Audition Timeline

Applicants will be notified if they have been accepted to the course on no later than 30 April for the July Winter Course, and no later than 30 October 2017 for the December Summer Course.
Bursary, scholarship and payment plan options will be released for participants to apply once they have been accepted to a course/programme.

All live auditions will take place on the first day of each course, and when the course starts audition results regarding placement will be announced. Please note that this might not be a final placement for seating, but will be the final placement in the orchestra. Final seating is decided by the conductor and the artistic director of the course.

Privately recorded audition

You must notify the Nationals office on if you wish to do a recorded audition and provide valid reasons as to why you can not attend the official recorded auditions.

Your audition should not be longer than four minutes (excluding the excerpts for the Winter Course).

Accompanists are not allowed.

One piece and one study of your own choice, minimum Grade 7 standard (consult the UNISA, ABRSM or Trinity syllabus and your teacher if you are in doubt).

It should be a first and only take, and the sound engineer must sign a form supplied by the SANYOF office  (request a form from stating that it is a first and only take.

Auditions should be provided on .mp3 and sent to and must reach us by 28 February 2017.

Auditions FAQ

When is my audition?

Once the SANYOF office has received your application you will be notified by post, email or sms. We will then let you know the time of your auditions. Your audition will be in the main centre closest to you. If there is a problem with your date or time, please email the SANYOF office

How do I schedule my recorded audition?
The SANYOF office will give you a time and location for your recorded audition. We will let you know when this will be. If there is a problem with your audition time, email immediately, and we will try to accommodate you at a different time. If this is not possible, you will need to send in a private recording (see guidelines for this). SANYOF does not cover the cost of your recording and due to variations in recording quality, this is not encouraged.

How long will the recorded audition be?
Not longer than 5 minutes.

What should I play at the recorded audition?
One piece of your choice and one study of your choice. Please ensure that this selection clearly demonstrates your ability on your instrument(s). We will also provide sight reading for you to play at your recorded audition. Note to percussionists: please see additional guidelines.

Can I send in a DVD?

No, SANYOF does not accept DVD recordings as the whole process is anonymous.

What repertoire should I chose for my recorded audition?
The repertoire for your audition needs to include one piece and one study. It should be of minimum Grade 7 standard. If you are in doubt, please consult the UNISA, ABRSM or Trinity Grade 7 syllabus and ask your teacher.

How many movements?
You may choose to play as many movements as you like, but make sure you stay within the five minute allocated time. You may also play part of a movement/concerto in order to fit into the five minute slot.

Why do percussionists have a specific list of selections or guidelines, while other instruments’ requirements are generic?
It is impossible to tell from a recorded audition what the percussionist’s technique is like. Also – all Grade 7 level and above percussion applicants are accepted to the course as we need so many of them this year.

Why are there two auditions?
The first audition gains entry to the National Youth Orchestra Course and SANYOF programmes. The second audition gives you a second chance, and allows for placement in an orchestra at the course you have been accepted to. Both auditions count towards your final placement.

The first audition (recorded by our traveling audition team) consists of a piece and a study of your own choice.

The second audition (behind-screen, done by the panel for the course or programme) will include a quick study and orchestral excerpts prescribed by SANYOF.

What does the audition panel want to hear?
We would like to see what your strengths are – so put your best foot forward. Play what suits you, and not what you think would suit us. Your auditions should demonstrate a range of ability and provide contrasts of musical style and instrumental technique. Each audition will be given a percentage. Remember: express don’t impress.

Do I get feedback? We will provide feedback on your audition for you during the course (if you would like it).

When will I get the results of my recorded audition?
Applicants will be notified if they have been accepted on the course or not on 30 April for the July Winter Course, and no later than 30 October 2017 for the December Summer Course (via sms and email). Please do not call the SANYOF offices for your results. If you have not received any communication from us by 30 April 2017 or 30 October respectively, please email

Percussion audition guidelines

You should have prepared pieces on the following:

·      Concert snare drum

·      Solo melodic instrument

·      Solo timpani (or drum-set)

Percussionists should perform a prepared solo on snare drum (or multiple percussion that includes snare-drum technique), timpani (or drum-set) and a melodic percussion instrument (marimba, xylophone) and will be asked to sight-read on snare drum and marimba.

Prepared piece

SANYOF embraces and values all music styles so you should prepare a piece that you are comfortable with and displays your strengths as a musician. It should be approximately 3 minutes in length, in any style, which demonstrates your instrumental proficiency and your overall musicianship. Do not choose a piece or a style of music you think the audition team wants to hear. Rather, select a piece that puts your “best foot forward” and highlights what you feel represents your best playing. Ultimately, the audition is a discovery process and we want to find out what you do well.


You may choose to select a 2 or 4 mallet prepared piece that demonstrates your strengths on the instrument. You may also be asked to demonstrate your technical facility via typical practice routines and exercises (scales, arpeggios, etc.).

Drum set

If you want to show expertise on drum set, substitute the timpani component with a drum-set component. Drummers should bring their sticks and a practice pad for use in the warm-up room, as most warm-up rooms will not have a drum kit for your warm-up. A standard 4 or 5 piece drum set with 2 cymbals will be provided for drum set players. Double-bass pedals are not provided.

It is recommended to seek the guidance of your teacher when selecting your prepared pieces. Please note that it should be of minimum Grade 7 standard (consult the UNISA syllabus if you are in doubt).

Your audition will be up to a maximum of 15 minutes, but please don’t feel you need to use all fifteen – if you are able to demonstrate your ability in less time, this is perfectly acceptable.

Accompanists are not allowed.

Reading: The examples range from basic to complex in order for the audition team to gauge your reading ability. You will have 5 minutes before your audition to warm up on your instrument and 10 minutes to review the reading material before being asked to play the examples in the audition.

You may also be asked to demonstrate your technical facility via typical practice routines and exercises (scales, arpeggios, etc.) on either vibraphone or marimba or rudiments on the snare drum.

We take a holistic approach in our evaluation process where each component of the audition helps the audition team assess your overall abilities as a musician. While each component is important, we recognise it is common for applicants to have imbalances in their playing abilities.