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

Prescreening Recording

Prescreening recordings are required of all CI applicants. It should consist of two complete performances as outline below and must be submitted as part of the online application, due December 1. After review of the application, supporting documents, and prescreening recording, qualified applicants will be invited for a live audition. Please refer to the recording guidelines section of our general Audition Requirements page for information about uploading your prescreening files as part of your online application.

The prescreening recording should contain:

  1. One 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.
  2. One 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 should be submitted in addition to the essay required of all applicants.

The prescreening recording and CI essay should be uploaded with the online application for admission.

Live Audition

Applicants invited 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. Drummers may be asked to demonstrate their ability to play in various grooves. Instrumentalists may be asked to show their ability 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.

Audition Dates

Final Recorded Auditions (video only)

Applicants residing outside of North America who are not applying to the DMA or Harvard/NEC dual degree programs may be considered for admission based on the submission of a final recorded audition. Given the competitive nature of our programs, applicants are strongly encouraged to present a live audition at NEC. Applicants must still submit a prescreening as a part of the online application. If you pass the prescreening round, you will be invited to submit a final video audition recording in January. Repertoire requirements for the final video audition recording are the same as those for live auditions. Final audition video recordings are due by February 1, but all other application and supporting materials, including prescreening, are due by December 1. No recording will be reviewed without a completed application. Applicants being considered for admission by final recorded audition will be interviewed and given an aural skills test by telephone.