Oxford University Music Society

The Musical Heart of Oxford

Oxford University Music Society


Auditions are the main way to join an OUMS ensemble [click to see full ensembles list]. For OU Orchestra, Philharmonia, Sinfonietta, Wind Orchestra, String Ensemble, and Jazz Orchestra, instrumentalists must audition at the start of the academic year.

For all the above ensembles except the Jazz Orchestra, auditions are held centrally. This means that you apply generally and are allotted to an ensemble based on performance quality, experience, and vacancies. You can, however, give preference for specific ensembles on the sign up form.

When are auditions held?

The main set of auditions is at the start of the academic year, in Michaelmas Term. Sign up in the form above before 19:00 on Thursday of 0th Week (7th October) to audition for Oxford University Music Society.

Further auditions are sometimes held at the start of Hilary and Trinity Terms. These are usually held on an ad hoc basis: specific vacancies will be advertised and only certain instruments will be allowed to audition.

Where are auditions held?

Most auditions will take place in the Faculty of Music, St Aldates, OX1 1DB. If walking down St Aldates from the city centre, go past Christ Church and the entrance to the Meadows, and the Faculty will be the first building on the left.

This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, applicants who are unable to attend in-person auditions (e.g. due to health conditions or international restrictions) will be able to audition online. Online auditions will take a slightly different form to those in-person. For more information, please email ?@oums.org

What happens at an audition?

Applicants will be asked:

To perform a pre-prepared unaccompanied piece of music, lasting 4-5 minutes long
To perform a short piece of sight reading
A few questions about their prior experience in ensembles

Each applicant will have the chance to warm up in a practice room before their time slot.

How are decisions made?

The audition panel is made up of three people. On the whole these will be section leaders (or ‘fixers’) from the auditioned ensembles. The panel will change to reflect the instrument of the applicant: for example, if you are auditioning on violin, the panel will be formed of 3 string players, with at least one likely to be a violin player.

Each panelist will assess your audition based on three variables: musical ability, technical ability, and sight reading ability. These are scored out of 10. The panelists’ scores are combined, and applicants for the same instrument are then ranked based on their overall score. Comments will be added next to the score based on the answers you give to the general questions. Using this information, the panelists will then recommend the ensemble they see fit for the applicant.

After all auditions have finished, the ensemble managers will meet with the OUMS President and Secretary to allocate seats. Scores, comments, and panelists’ recommendations, as well as ensemble preference, will be taken into account.

When will I hear the result of my audition?

We try to let all applicants know the result of their audition by the end of the last day of auditions. For Michaelmas Term 2021 applicants can expect to hear late on the 10th October.

If you have not received your audition result by Wednesday of 1st Week (13th October), please contact secretary@oums.org.

What happens if I don’t get into my preferred ensemble?

There are limited seats in every ensemble, especially in the wind, brass, and percussion sections of OU Orchestra, Philharmonia, and Sinfonietta. Unfortunately not everybody gets their preferred choice of seat, but there’s no need to be upset!

If you got into a different ensemble, then definitely still go to it! There’s no hierarchy of ensembles​​—you’ve been offered a seat because the manager wants you — so there’s no shame in playing with a group you didn’t intend to. You may even discover a whole new repertoire!

If you didn’t get a seat this year, then don’t worry! There are plenty of opportunities still open for playing. OU Brass Band are non-auditioned and open to new players all year round, playing high-quality music in concert and at UniBrass. OU Chorus regularly call for instrumentalists to accompany their concerts—keep an eye on our social media for call-outs.

Of course, you are more than welcome to audition again at a later date. Many people only reach their aim in their second or third year—it depends very heavily on vacancies.


If you need adjustments to your audition, please contact president@oums.org. We will do everything we can to accommodate you.