A live audition is required for all Contemporary Improvisation (CI) applicants living in North America.*

Prescreening Recording

A prescreening recording and application must be submitted by December 1 in order to be considered for a live audition. After review, qualified applicants will be asked to present an audition at NEC. Applicants who are not selected for a live audition will be notified that they have not been accepted for study. 

The prescreening recording should contain two complete performances totaling 8 minutes. One piece should be a recomposition of a pre-existing piece, a preconceived interpretation and/or arrangement that uses an existing composition as a point of departure to express your personal musical style. You should take a leadership role in the piece and be the primary soloist, arranger, and musical director. Your second piece can be an original composition, another original interpretation of a pre-existing piece, or a structured improvisation.

You must submit a Contemporary Improvisation essay with your prescreening recording and application. The essay should explain your reasons for choosing this major, including a short statement describing your musical influences and background. The CI essay is in addition to the writing sample that all applicants must submit in the online application.

The prescreening recording and CI essay should be uploaded with the online application for admission. The recordings should be audio-only files (not video). Please refer to the recording guidelines information for details on uploading your prescreening files as part of your online application.

Live Audition

Applicants selected for a live audition will be asked to play two different pieces, at least one of which should be performed unaccompanied: 

  1. a re-composition of a pre-existing piece
  2. an original composition, another original interpretation of a pre-existing piece, or a structured improvisation.

You will also be asked to sing and play back brief musical phrases and to improvise vocally and instrumentally on brief harmonic progressions. In addition, drummers might be asked to illustrate their ability to play in various grooves and other instrumentalists might be asked to show their abilities to perform as functional ensemble musicians (for example, bassists might be asked to improvise bass lines and guitarists or pianists might be asked to provide rhythmic accompaniment).  A rhythm section (consisting of piano, bass, and drums) will be provided to assist with the audition as needed. 

The audition process will also include an aural skills test (including interval and chord identification and long-term melodic and rhythmic retention) and an interview.

* CI applicants residing outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico may be considered for admission based on the submission of a final video recorded audition. Recorded auditions are due on February 1. Please refer to the recording guidelines and then upload your video audition files to your online application. In choosing pieces to play, please follow the live audition instructions. Applicants being considered for admission by recorded audition will be asked to complete a recorded and/or telephone ear test, and will be interviewed by telephone.

Audition Dates