Strings

Bachelor of Music (BM)

Undergraduate Application Deadline

December 1st (First-year and Transfer)

Undergraduate Application Requirements

This section is for all first-year and transfer applicants from outside of USC applying to a Bachelor of Music (BM) String program (Cello, Double Bass, Harp, Viola, or Violin) for the fall semester. USC does not accept applications for spring admission unless you are already a current USC student.

Note: This information applies only to undergraduate Strings applicants. Current USC students should follow the change/addition of major application process.

The total application fee is $110 ($85 for the Common Application and $25 for the Thornton Portfolio in SlideRoom). All required materials must be submitted by December 1.

Recordings/materials must be submitted online through the SlideRoom Portfolio by the December 1st deadline and will not be accepted via mail or email for any program. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1. Any application not complete by December 1st may be removed from consideration.

Applicants experiencing hardship or extenuating circumstances due to natural disaster or public health concerns in their local area that may affect their ability to satisfy application requirements may contact the Thornton Office of Admission at uscmusic@usc.edu to explore possible accommodations. Though we cannot guarantee that accommodations/exceptions will be possible, applicants are encouraged to contact the Admission Office as soon as possible to allow the maximum amount of time to consider the options.

Applying For

Fall Admission

Auditions Required?

Yes, 2 rounds

Questions?

Email: uscmusic@usc.edu | Phone: (213)740-8986

Complete the USC Application

All applicants must complete the USC Undergraduate Application and submit all other application materials required by USC Admission by the December 1st deadline: First-year applicants, Transfer applicants, International applicants.

Note: Undergraduate applicants to the Thornton School are only permitted to select one Thornton major through the Common Application and it must be selected as the first-choice major. Applicants who would like to be considered for admission to a second Thornton major must complete the Second Major Request process.

Complete the SlideRoom Portfolio

All applicants must complete the Thornton SlideRoom portfolio by the December 1st deadline. All Thornton supplemental materials must be uploaded through SlideRoom, which you will access through the link provided in the “Portfolio Instructions” section in the Common Application (see details below). Thornton supplemental materials will not be accepted via mail or email.

All first-year applicants: By selecting a Thornton program in the first-choice major field, the Common Application will automatically populate with the following text: “Because of the major you selected above, you will need to submit a Portfolio for your program to complete your application”. Select “Yes, I understand.” and refer to the Portfolio Instructions in the left hand column.

All transfer applicants: By selecting a Thornton program in the first-choice major field, the Common Application will automatically populate with the following text: “Because of the major you selected above, you will need to submit a Portfolio for your program to complete your application”. Select “Yes, I understand.” and refer to the “USC Thornton School of Music” SlideRoom link that will automatically populate below the portfolio question.

Applicants are highly encouraged to indicate on the SlideRoom application whether they have a teacher preference for their studies at the Thornton School, understanding that final studio placements are determined for admitted students at the discretion of the department chair in consultation with individual studio teachers.

Applicants will be asked to provide the following materials in the SlideRoom portfolio:

SlideRoom Requirements

Prescreen Recorded Audition

All string applicants are required to submit an unedited video recording to the SlideRoom portal for prescreening purposes by the application deadline. Audio only recordings will not be accepted. The results of the prescreening (as determined by the appropriate faculty) will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition.

Violin, viola, cello and harp applicants must submit a video recording for prescreening that contains at least 15 minutes of music, which includes:

  1. A movement of a Bach suite, partita, or sonata
  2. One work from the 19th century (a movement of a concerto, sonata, or concert piece are acceptable)
  3. One work from the 20th or 21st century (a movement of concerto, sonata, solo or concert piece are acceptable).

Double bass applicants must submit a video recording for prescreen that contains the following:

  1. Two contrasting movements of a standard double bass concerto or comparable works from the standard double bass solo repertoire
  2. Three orchestral excerpts from the standard orchestral repertoire
  3. Two movements of a solo Bach Suite in any key
  4. A work or movement of a work, preferably composed by a BIPOC composer (The Strings Department has compiled a list of works composed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.)

Applicants must perform all music from memory, except sonata/duo works or contemporary works composed after 1970. All 15 minutes of music must have been recorded within the last year. Comments regarding the prescreening material will not be released to the applicant.

Applicants who do not provide the required prescreening materials by the stated deadline will not be considered for a live audition.

Introductory Video for All Undergraduate Applicants

All applicants to undergraduate Thornton programs are required to submit a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed 1-2 minute video that offers a brief personal introduction and answers the following question: How do you envision using your USC Thornton education to become a force for positive change in the evolution of the music profession and music as an art form?

Young Artist Project Introductory Video

The classical music profession is changing, and we’re changing with it. USC Thornton’s undergraduate classical music curriculum (called “The ReDesign”) maintains a rigorous foundation of the finest conservatory training, while also offering flexibility for students to chart their own artistic pathway. We aim to create musical leaders who can not only take advantage of traditional opportunities, but also discover new ones – and even create their own. All four years are aimed at the two things most important to musicians: taking their musicianship to the highest levels and preparing for a thriving professional life.

At the heart of the ReDesign is the Young Artist Project. This individualized, mentored project is pursued during the junior and senior years of the program, and requires students to develop and fully realize a unique project related to their work as a classical musician. This could involve developing a hybrid performance, conducting original research, exploring new creative technologies, or applying creative expression to a pressing social issue.

To help us get to know our applicants and their unique identity as young musicians, all applicants to undergraduate programs in classical music performance and composition are required to submit (via SlideRoom) a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed video of no more than two minutes. In this video applicants must answer the following question: If you were pitching your Young Artist Project idea today, what is the most daring project you would propose and why?

Résumé

The résumé should list musical, professional, and academic experience and is generally 1-2 pages in length.

Repertoire List

This list should include works studied and performed. Etudes, scale studies, arias, art songs, chamber music, solo pieces, and original compositions are all examples of what could be included in this list.

Transcripts
  • First-year applicants are not required to upload transcripts in SlideRoom but must submit official transcripts to USC Admission, as required.
  • Transfer applicants are required to upload a copy of all college transcripts in SlideRoom in addition to the official transcripts that must be submitted to USC Admission.
    • Note: USC Admission also requires official high school transcripts (with date of graduation) and official college transcripts of any and all college coursework completed through the fall term for all transfer applicants.
Letters of Recommendation (Optional)

In addition to the recommendation letters required by USC Admission submitted via the Common Application, undergraduate applicants may submit optional letters of recommendation via the SlideRoom Portfolio “References” section. Important notes for optional letters of recommendation:

  • Any optional letters of recommendation you want reviewed by the Thornton faculty must be submitted via the Thornton SlideRoom “References” section by December 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1.
  • Required letters of recommendation submitted to USC Admission through the appropriate Common Application avenues will automatically be included with the Thornton SlideRoom application for review by Thornton Faculty for first-year/freshman applicants.
  • USC Admission will not receive any optional letter of recommendation submitted through the Thornton SlideRoom “References” section.
  • Any recommendation sent via mail or email will not be reviewed by the Thornton faculty.

Perform Audition if Invited

The results of the prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Notice of the results of the prescreen audition will be sent to applicants via email in late December, which will include the date and time of the live audition, if invited. Live auditions typically occur in late January and early February. Please do not make travel plans to audition at USC Thornton until you have received confirmation of your audition appointment.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit our campus and live audition events can be the ideal opportunity for this kind of visit. We therefore encourage applicants to perform their live auditions in person on the USC campus. Applicants who live more than 100 miles from the USC campus and are unable to travel to Los Angeles for their live audition can indicate their preference for an online audition on their Thornton application in SlideRoom. Applicants who live within a 100 mile radius of the USC campus are required to perform their live audition in-person.

Live Audition Requirements

Applicants must prepare repertoire for the live audition as described below. All music should be performed from memory, except sonata/duo works or contemporary works composed after 1960. The live auditions will be held in 15 minute increments, though the faculty panel may decide that the student need not perform for the full 15 minutes. The presiding faculty will determine the actual music performed at the audition, choosing from the list of repertoire prepared by the applicant according to the requirements as described below. Applicants with insufficient required repertoire may be disqualified at the discretion of the faculty panel.

Piano accompaniment is strongly preferred, but not required. For applicants performing their live audition in-person on the USC campus, a suggested list of pianists available for hire (at the applicant’s own expense) is available through the Strings office at the Thornton School: (213) 740-7702. Applicants must provide a copy of piano scores to the pianist for the audition.

It should be carefully noted that some members of the strings faculty may request private interviews and/or lessons in addition to the audition requirements detailed on this page in order for the applicant to be given the fullest consideration for placement in their studios. Typically, these additional meetings are scheduled around, but not during, the regular live audition dates. All specific arrangements for these meetings are considered and finalized by the faculty members themselves. Thornton faculty contact information can be found here.

Violin

  1. Two contrasting movements from an unaccompanied Bach sonata or partita
  2. One first or last movement (with applicable cadenza) from a major concerto work
  3. One piece of applicant’s choice (must be a commercially published work)
  4. A work or movement of a work, preferably composed by a BIPOC composer (The Strings Department has compiled a list of works composed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.)

Viola

  1. Two contrasting movements from any Bach solo suite originally composed for cello or from a Bach sonata or partita originally composed for violin
  2. A sonata movement or other duo work for viola and piano
  3. A substantial first or last movement from a standard concerto written for viola (with applicable cadenza)
  4. A work or movement of a work, preferably composed by a BIPOC composer (The Strings Department has compiled a list of works composed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.)

Cello

  1. Two contrasting movements of an unaccompanied Bach suite
  2. First movement of a standard concerto (with applicable cadenza) or another complete major work (such as Rococo Variations [Tchaikovsky] or Schelomo [Bloch])
  3. One piece of applicant’s choice (must be a commercially published work)
  4. A work or movement of a work, preferably composed by a BIPOC composer (The Strings Department has compiled a list of works composed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.)

Double Bass

  1. Two contrasting movements of a standard double bass concerto or comparable works from the standard double bass solo repertoire
  2. Three orchestral excerpts from the standard orchestral repertoire
  3. Two movements of a solo Bach Suite in any key
  4. A work or movement of a work, preferably composed by a BIPOC composer (The Strings Department has compiled a list of works composed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.)

Harp

  1. Two orchestra excerpts
  2. A composition of the degree of difficulty equivalent to the “Fantasie on a Theme of Haydn” by Grandjany
  3. One contrasting work
Undergraduate Theory Exam

All undergraduate applicants (except in Composition and Music Industry) are required to complete a music theory examination as part of the live audition requirements. The exam will measure proficiency in basic music theory. Further details about how and when the exam will be administered will be provided in the audition confirmation sent to applicants invited for a live audition. Exam results alone will not prevent a student from being admitted to USC or the Thornton School. The Thornton Admission office cannot release exam details in advance of the exam. Inquiries regarding the content of the exam will not be answered.