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Auditions for County Music Groups

All auditions take place at the Kettering Road Music and Arts Centre during July. You can take an audition on more than one instrument if you are up to the required standard.

Tuba section playing in an Orchestra
What standard do I need to be?

Instrumentalists are generally expected to be, at a minimum of Grade 3 standard or equivalent. For strings, Grade 2 with merit or Music Medals Gold / Platinum award may be sufficient standard to apply. Vocalists do not need to have passed a specific grade. If in doubt, please discuss with your teacher whether you may have reached the appropriate standard.

Please note that all instrumental auditions will be heard without an accompaniment. All members of county ensembles are expected to maintain regular instrumental tuition in order for them to continue personal improvement.

Audition requirements

Existing County Group members

  • The audition will consist of an own choice, piece which should not exceed 5 minutes in length, a piece of sight reading and a repertoire test based on items performed recently by your group.
  • It is important that the piece chosen by the candidate accurately reflects their playing ability, as places will be offered on the basis of performance at the audition.
  • Trumpet and cornet players currently in County Junior Brass Ensemble will be asked to prepare the short set piece for new candidates, in place of the repertoire test. This will be provided at rehearsals.

New candidates

  • The audition will consist of an own choice piece, which should not exceed 5 minutes in length, and a piece of sight reading.
  • It is important that the piece chosen by the candidate accurately reflects their playing ability, places will be offered on the basis of performance at the audition.
  • In addition, candidates may be asked to do other simple exercises to help the panel build a full picture of a player's ability.
  • All applicants should be over 9 years of age on 31 August 2018.
  • Both current members of County Youth Theatre and new applicants will be invited to take part in a workshop audition. This will be a whole afternoon to include a drama warm-up, improvisation workshop followed by an individual audition.
  • All applicants will be expected to prepare and perform a scripted piece from a recognised writer. Either a dramatic monologue, or a duologue. Please note that there is a time limit of 2 minutes.
  • Auditions day for the County Youth Theatre will be on Saturday 30 June 2018.

Acoustic Classical Guitar (nylon strung 'classical' guitar)

All current county group members:
  • are expected to play an own choice piece
  • sight read at 3 levels
  • are expected to play selected passages from their years' repertoire
  • should also prepare any (own choice) 2 octave major, minor and melodic minor scale, played i,m,i
New candidates:
  • are advised to choose a piece of classical solo repertoire using standard notation on a nylon strung, classical guitar
  • as a guide, should be ABRSM or Trinity College London grade 2 or above
  • will also expected to play scales of C, G and D major. A harmonic minor. All 1 octave played i,m,i
  • a choice of sight reading will be given, set at 3 levels of difficulty

Four students will be offered the opportunity to work with John Draper as the Tarrega Guitar Quartet. This invitation will be in September and the quartet memtbers will have additional pieces to learn, plus other concert commitments alongside Guitarlactica's.

Students who play with the quartet will be challenged with demanding repertoire and should be able to work independently from time to time. The Tarrega Quartet is not offered as an alternative to the main guitar ensemble.

Electric Guitar

Electric guitarists interested in auditioning for jazz groups should see the jazz audition requirements below.

  • The audition will consist of an own choice piece [which should not exceed 5 minutes in length] and a piece of sight reading.
  • In addition, candidates may be asked to do other simple exercises to help the panel build a full picture of a players’ ability.
  • It is important that the own choice piece accurately reflects the playing ability of the candidate, as places will be offered on the basis of performance at the audition.
  • The audition will consist of:
    • An own choice piece (which should not exceed 5 minutes in length).
    • A piece of sight-reading
  • In the case of Jazz Piano or Jazz Guitar you will be asked to improvise at a level appropriate to your own choice piece, either with a backing track, or with a member of the audition panel playing along.
  • In the case of Jazz Bass you may be asked to play a bass line from a big band chart - depending on the level you are auditioned at - this may include some improvisation.
  • Please note that there are limited options available for piano players in county groups.

Existing Training and Youth Group players

  • You will be required to prepare a short piece, or excerpt for snare and timpani, plus prepare the set tuned excerpt for your level:
    • Training level - Xylophone excerpt from Colas Breugnon Overture by Kabalevsky
    • Youth level - Glockenspiel excerpt from The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Dukas
  • There will be sight reading and aural tests, such as playing along with a backing track on one or more of the following - cymbals, tambourine or triangle.
  • You might also be asked to demonstrate open and closed rolls and snare drum rudiments.

Existing Junior Group players

  • You will be required to prepare a short piece, or excerpt for snare and timpani, plus prepare the set xylophone excerpt from Tubby the Tuba by Kleinsinger.
  • There will be sight reading and aural tests, such as playing along with a backing track on one or more of the following - cymbals, tambourine or triangle.
  • You should prepare an own choice piece for drum kit.
  • You might also be asked to demonstrate open and closed rolls and snare drum rudiments.

New candidates

  • Please note that the minimum standard for all new candidates is Trinity College London grade 3 in either orchestral percussion or drum kit, or grade 5 Rock School drum kit.
  • You will be required to prepare the set pieces for snare drum and drum kit. There will be pieces available for timpani and tuned percussion which you should prepare if you can.
  • You will also be expected to demonstrate closed and open rolls plus snare rudiments up to Trinity College London grade 3 snare drum standard.
  • There will be sight reading tests for snare drum, and please be prepared to demonstrate basic listening skills, such as playing along with a backing track or piano.

Big Band; Jazz 2; Jazz 3 and new entry Jazz drummers

  • You will be required to perform two short contrasting pieces on the kit that reflect an understanding of Big Band and Swing drumming.
  • There will be sight reading tests and you should be prepared to play by ear in a jazz style to a backing track and/or a piano with sticks and brushes.

Copies of the set pieces will be available from your teacher or Northamptonshire Music & Performing Arts Trust office direct. If you need further advice on the standards, requirements or suitable material, please contact us.

​Existing County Group members

You will need to play:

  • the set piece, scale and arpeggio for your age
  • extracts from pieces currently being played by your county group
  • sight reading tests

New applicants

You will need to play:

  • the set piece, scale and arpeggio for your age
  • a short piece of your own choice (up to 5 minutes)
  • sight reading tests

If you are auditioning for the first time, your own choice piece should be an approximate standard of:

Violin

Age 10 and under: Grade 2 merit or Music Medal Gold

Age 11 and 12: Grade 3 or Music Medal Platinum

Age 13 and 14: Grade 4 - 5

Age 15 and 16: Grade 6

Age 17 and over: Grade 7+

Viola, Cello and Bass

Age 10 and under: Grade 1 merit or Music Medal Silver - Gold

Age 11 and 12: Grade 2 merit or Music Medal Gold - Platinum

Age 13 and 14: Grade 3 - 4

Age 15 and 16: Grade 5 - 6

Age 17 and over: Grade 6+

All candidates are reminded that they must play the set piece and scale for their age group. However, candidates may also play the set piece, scale and arpeggio of one other higher standard age group. Extra credit may be given for a complete performance of a higher standard set piece and scale, providing the standard of performance is sufficient to merit it.

Please note all scales and arpeggios should be played separate bows and without vibrato.

If you wish to be considered for Zingaresque (World Music Group) or the String Sinfonia please indicate where required on your application. Membership of String Sinfonia is only open to string players invited to join CTO or CYO who have reached a minimum standard of Grade 6 merit.


Set pieces for all candidates

Violin

Age and requirements

Age 10 and under on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of B flat major (2 octaves). 

Age 11 and 12 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of D major (2 octaves). 

Age 13 and 14 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of G major (3 octaves). 

Age 15 and 16 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of B flat major (3 octaves).

Age 17 and over on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of D major (3 octaves).

Viola

Age and requirements

Age 10 and under on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of E flat major (2 octaves).  Age 11 and 12 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of G major (2 octaves).  Age 13 and 14 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of C major (3 octaves).  Age 15 and 16 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of D major (3 octaves).          

Age 17 and over on 31 August 2018 - Scale and Arpeggio of E flat major (3 octaves).            

Cello

Age and requirements

Age 10 and under on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of G major (2 octaves).

Age 11 and 12 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of A major (2 octaves).

Age 13 and 14 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of C major (3 octaves)  

Age 15 and 16 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of E flat major (3 octaves). 

Age 17 and over on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of A major (3 octaves). 

Double Bass

Age and requirements

Age 10 and under on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of G major (1 octave).

Age 11 and 12 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of D major (1 octave).

Age 13 and 14 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of E flat major (1 octave).

Age 15 and 16 on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of E major (2 octaves).

Age 17 and over on 31 August 2018 - Scale and arpeggio of E major (3 octaves). 

New applicants - Summer 2018

Choose any song that you are comfortable singing, either from the list below or one you already know.

Current County Choir members

Please choose a song from the grade lists below depending on your ability and which choir you are auditioning for. If you have taken a grade recently you may sing a song from your exam even if it is not on the list. 

Sheet music will be available in your audition from the music in the list below but if you are singing a song outside of the list you need to bring the music for the pianist with you.

County Junior Choir

From grades 1 to 3.

County Training Choir

From grade 3 to 5.

Broadway Belles

From grade 4 upwards.

County Senior Girls Choir

From grade 5 upwards.

County Youth Choir

From grades 6 to 8.

Please contact your music teacher or the NMPAT vocal staff if you have any questions on repertoire or the audition requirements.

Grade 1

The second star to the right - Peter Pan
My favourite things - The Sound of Music       
My bonnie lies over the ocean - Traditional
Where is Love - Oliver!
The Crocodile - Jenkyns
The Grandfather Clock - Rowley

Grade 2

Who will buy? - Oliver!
A whole New World - Aladdin
Doh-Re-Mi - The Sound of Music      
Cockles and Mussels - Traditional
Consider Yourself - Oliver!
Part of your world - The Little Mermaid
Bobby Shafto - traditional
Dalmation Cradle song - traditional
Go tell it on the mountain - traditional
A dream is a wish your heart makes - Cinderella

Grade 3

The Bare Necessities - The Jungle Book
Castle on a cloud - Les Miserables
Maybe - Annie
An Eriskay Love Lilt - Traditional
Greensleeves - Traditional (3 verses)
Santa Lucia - traditional
Any dream will do - Joseph and his technicolour dreamcoat
Wouldn’t it be loverly - My Fair Lady
Moon River - Breakfast at Tiffanys
The path to the moon - Thiman

Grade 4

Can you feel the love tonight? - The Lion King
The Sound of Music - The Sound of Music
Feed the Birds - Mary Poppins    
My love is like a red, red rose - Traditional
Scarborough Fair - Traditional
Colours of the Wind - Pocohontas
Amazing Grace - Traditional
The lark in the clear air - Traditional
Whistle down the wind - Whistle down the wind
Electricity - Billy Elliot
When she loved me - Toy Story 2

Grade 5

Over the Rainbow - The Wizard of Oz
Home - Beauty and the beast
Once upon a dream - Jekyll and Hyde
I dreamed a dream - Les Miserables
Far from the home I love - Fiddler on the roof
I’m not saying a word - Blood Brothers (MALE)
Pilate’s dream - Jesus Christ Superstar (MALE)
Panis Angelicus - C. Franck
Sonntag - Brahms
Sebben Crudele - Caldara    
The Salley Gardens - (Britten arr.) Traditional
How should I your true love know - Quilter
Linden Lea - Vaughan Williams
My House - Matilda
Cold enough to snow - Menken


Grade 6
Soprano/mezzo

Summertime - Porgy and Bess
Voi che sapete - Mozart
Alma del Core - Caldara
O Holy Night - Adam
Can’t help lovin’ dat man - Showboat
Someone to watch over me - Oh Kay
Wishing you were somehow here again - The Phantom of the Opera    
A Blackbird Singing - Michael Head
Don’t cry for me Argentina - Evita
The Willow song - Sullivan

Alto
Voi che sapete - Mozart
Verdi Prati - Handel
Someone else’s story - Chess
I’m not that girl - Wicked
Dein blaues auge - Brahms
Vittoria mio core - Carissimi
Can’t help lovin’ dat man - Showboat
A Blackbird Singing - Michael Head
Anything Goes - Anything Goes
With one look - Sunset Boulevard

Tenor
Me - Beauty and the Beast
Where’er you walk - Handel
I got plenty o’ nuttin’ - Porgy and Bess
Not while I’m around - Sweeney Todd
The Sailor’s song - Purcell
Luck be a lady - Guys and Dolls    
O mistress mine - Quilter

Bass
This Nearly was mine - South Pacific
Lost in the Darkness - Jekyll and Hyde
I got plenty o’ nuttin’ - Porgy and Bess
The Impossible dream - Man of La Mancha

Grade 7 and 8

For grades 7 and 8 songs please ask your Vocal Teacher or Choir Director.

County Training Choir

Existing county group members

Auditions will consist of a short piece of your own choice (which should not exceed 5 minutes in length), extracts from pieces currently being played by your county group(s) and sight-reading tests.

Saxophonists will be asked by the panel if you wish to take the improvisation element at the start of the audition. Candidates who opt not to improvise cannot be considered for jazz groups.

New candidates

Should prepare the set work and scales (tongued and slurred) as specified below for your instrument. In addition, your audition will consist of a short piece of your own choice (which should not exceed 5 minutes in length) and sight reading tests. 

Bassoon

  • C major: 1 octave
  • E minor: 1 octave
  • Set work: any one piece from current ABRSM or Trinity College London lists - minimum standard Grade 2
  • Own choice: an additional piece of a standard that best demonstrates your abilities

Clarinet

  • G major, D minor, C chromatic: 2 octaves
  • Set work: any one piece from current ABRSM or Trinity College London lists - minimum standard Grade 3
  • Own choice: an additional piece of a standard that best demonstrates your abilities

Flute

  • A major, G minor, D chromatic: 2 octaves
  • Set work: any one piece from current ABRSM or Trinity College London lists - minimum standard Grade 3
  • Own choice: an additional piece of a standard that best demonstrates your abilities

Oboe

  • D minor: 2 octaves
  • B flat major: 1 octave
  • Set work: any one piece from current ABRSM or Trinity College London lists - minimum standard Grade 3
  • Own choice: an additional piece of a standard that best demonstrates your abilities

Saxophone

  • G chromatic: to a 12th
  • Set work: any one piece from current ABRSM or Trinity College London lists - minimum standard Grade 3
  • Own choice: an additional piece of a standard that best demonstrates your abilities

Improvisation for Saxophonists

  • Set work for Intermediate Students: 2 choruses of swung blues in F  (accompaniment will be provided)
  • Set work for Advanced Students: 1 chorus of 'Autumn Leaves' (accompaniment will be provided)
  • Please note: You will be asked by the panel if you wish to take the improvisation element at the start of your audition, but be aware that candidates who opt not to improvise cannot be considered for jazz groups.

Candidates for the new County Junior Woodwind Ensemble (CJWE)

  • Prepare one piece of music from the current ABRSM or Trinity College London woodwind lists at the following level:
    • Grade 2 (Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone)
    • Grade 1 (Oboe and Bassoon)
  • Prepare a second piece of own choice music at a level chosen by the candidate
  • In place of sight reading, there will be a short extract of music that applicants will go through alongside one of the audition panel


  • All instrumentalists and vocalists are invited to audition for the World Music Groups Zingaresque. Members are usually also members of other County ensembles.
  • The audition will consist of an opportunity to perform on your principal instrument and demonstrate your interest in the collaborative process of building music from diverse musical influences.
  • If you wish to be considered for a Zingaresque audition please indicate where required on the audition application form.

Please contact your music teacher or NMPAT staff if you have any questions on repertoire or the audition requirements.

Audition application

Please click on the link below to access the online application for an audition:

Audition results

Audition results will be sent by email during the second half of August.

Please note that seating decisions made at audition are provisional and subject to review during the course of the year at the discretion of the group director.

NMPAT receives support from:
NMPAT is a company Limited by Guarantee (Company No. 7738151) and a registered charity (Charity No. 1145643)