Who can apply for the SNYO auditions?
If you are a young musician between 10 and 18 years old with a strong passion for orchestral music, the SNYO is the place for you! You may audition on any orchestral instrument, or audition on the piano (for those aged 10-13) if you do not play any orchestral instrument. Pianists who are successful in their audition will be assigned to learn an orchestral instrument, as the piano is not a standard orchestral instrument. Young violinists who are interested in learning the viola are welcome to apply to join us as well.
I play a band instrument which is not a standard orchestral instrument. Can I apply?
Yes! If you play a band instrument that is not an instrument usually used in orchestra settings, such as the euphonium, saxophone, or alto horn, you may also submit an application to audition. Should your audition into the SNYO be successful, you will be assigned to learn an orchestral instrument such as the trombone or horn.
Are there any prerequisites for the audition?
  • Violin / Cello / Piano: The violin, cello and piano are highly-competitive at the SNYO auditions. Violinists, cellists and pianists aged 10 and above are expected to play at a standard of at least an Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Grade 8 at their audition. Only pianists aged 10-13 are eligible to apply.
  • All Other Instruments: For applicants on all other instruments, there are no audition prerequisites and we look forward to hearing from you.
What should I prepare for the audition?
As stated in the Audition Form, the audition comprises three main components:
  • Scales: Scales and arpeggios tested in the audition will not be limited to any music examination syllabus by examination boards. If you are a violinist, cellist or pianist, you must be able to play scales in all keys (major and minor) from memory. For audition candidates on other instruments, you are recommended to be able to play at least some major and minor scales.
  • Pieces: You will need to prepare to play two contrasting pieces from different musical eras and no accompanist is required for the audition. The pieces may be of any duration, but in the interest of time, the audition panel may stop you before you finish the entire piece. You are strongly encouraged to audition with pieces other than those prepared for examinations. Examples of good audition pieces include movements from a concerto or sonata, or etudes, which demonstrate technical facility and musicality.
  • Musicianship Tests: You may be given a piece to sight-read on the spot. Sight-reading is an important skill as the SNYO musicians are expected to learn new pieces quickly and regularly for concerts. In addition, you may be tested on your aural, sight-singing or rhythm skills. The audition panel may also have a short chat with you to get to know you better.
What is the audition panel looking for in candidates?
The audition panel is looking for a combination of qualities, including but not limited to: tone quality, intonation, accuracy of rhythm accompanied by strong sense of pulse, and musicality.
Candidates who do well at the auditions tend to demonstrate a sense of musicality through stylistic awareness and interpretation as well as observance of musical expressions and details such as dynamics, articulation and phrasing. Good musicianship skills are also important, and may be assessed through aural, rhythm, sight-singing or sight-reading tests.
For candidates auditioning on instruments that are highly competitive such as the violin and piano, we expect a higher level of technical competency and demonstrated mastery of all major and minor scales. In SNYO, we strive to develop ensemble and orchestral skills in our members, which are different skill sets required from solo playing. We therefore look for candidates who have a strong interest to play in an orchestra and enjoy playing in a group.
Will I definitely play on the instrument that I auditioned on?
Based on the needs of the orchestra, we may on occasion recommend a switch of instrument (for instance, from violin to viola) when there are opportunities to develop and expand the potential of our members. However, these changes will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In order to ensure a smooth transition between instruments, the SNYO has a tutoring scheme available for new learners to subsidise their private individual lessons on the assigned instrument.
My audition was not successful this time. What should I do?
As entry into the SNYO is highly-competitive, you may wish to try again if you do not get in during your first audition attempt. It is natural to feel nervous during an audition and not perform as well as intended; being able to handle your nerves will help you ace your audition. Remember to prepare as much as you can on your technique and pieces, visualise yourself performing well when you practice and take deep breaths before you enter the audition room. Remember to read through the next section of Audition Tips as well!


Preparing for the audition:

  • Submit your application before the deadline (one month before the audition date)
    • Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered for the next audition date
  • Plan your practice – remember that various components of the audition are all important
  • Make sure you read all the audition information carefully
  • Find out how to get to the audition venue beforehand – be sure that you can find your way there and that you will arrive at the audition venue punctually
  • Ensure that your instrument is in good shape, and bring along spare accessories just in case
  • Get sufficient rest before the audition

On the audition day:

  • Do plan to arrive punctually for your audition as this gives you ample time to calm down and warm up before the audition
  • Ensure that you are not distracted by feeling hungry or thirsty during the audition as it could affect your performance
  • Put your best foot forward in the audition and enjoy every minute of it!