Regarding Audition Materials for Pianists

Generally adjudications, competitions and auditions require any number of contrasting pieces written specifically for the piano. Contrasting means of different tempos (fast vs. slow), different styles (rhythmic vs. lyric), different keys, different timbre/touch/articula­tion (legato vs. staccato) and different historical eras (Baroque vs. Romantic, Classical vs. Impressionist vs. Contemporary).

Arrangements are generally not acceptable audition repertoire for adjudications. An arrangement is a piece that is not originally composed for piano, but is an adaptation of a vocal or instrumental piece for performance on the piano.

WHY AREN’T ARRANGEMENTS ACCEPTABLE AUDITION REPERTOIRE?  Original piano compositions are written specifically for the sound, layout, or technique of the instrument. Arrangements are an attempt to make a famous tune manageable on the piano, not always the best showing of a students technique, musicianship or ability in a piano audition setting.

HOW TO DETERMINE IF IT’S AN ARRANGEMENT? If the selection is an arrangement, the score will say so at the top right corner (for example, “arr. W.A. Palmer”, or “arr. Faber,” etc.); or it will say “Folk Tune” or “Traditional.” Arrangements could include simplied versions of more difficult piano repertoire; instrumental and/or vocal movie, television themes; sacred selections or hymns; musical theatre songs; orchestral, chamber or band music;
 pop music;
 vocal repertoire; 
folk tunes.

The only exception to this ‘arrangements rule’ applies to the piano transcriptions found in the advanced literature by such composers as Liszt.

There is an abundance of music available for download these days.  Some of it is legitimate, much of it is not.  To know whether the person had permission to transcribe or arrange the music  (movie music, theatre music, etc), it will state on the score “Permission granted by….” If you don’t see that statement, you may use the music for your own enjoyment, but NOT for an audition or competition.

WHAT OTHER CHOICES ARE THERE? The method books all have quality original materials suitable for an audition. For supplementary repertoire outside the method books, visit the many music publisher websites for ideas.  There are also the many historical ‘minor master’ composers to consider such as Turk, Gurlitt, Burgmuller, Streabbog all whom have selections accessible to the beginning pianist.

ALSO, NO EXCERPTS OR CUTS!  As the student advances, the repertoire choices are plentiful. Any complete movement of a sonatina, sonata, for example, are excellent performance pieces, as is one dance of a suite. Be sure, however, the edition being utilized includes the complete movement or dance and not just a portion of it. And your performance should be of the entire selection, not just a select couple of pages.  If you choose music that goes over the required time, learn it all! The adjudicator has the prerogative to hear any portion they want.

BOTTOMLINE…Choose repertoire which will be showcase the student’s musicianship, originality and technique while allowing for a confident and enjoyable performance.

Click here for links to some of the publisher websites.

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