InstrumentalArts (MFA Only)

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the InstrumentalArts Programs/Specializations, faculty, facilities, curriculum and view student work.

Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission.


Brass/Harp/Strings/Winds

The faculty are interested in seeing and hearing application materials that offer a sense of who you are as an artist. You are required to submit an online portfolio that showcases your work as a creative artist at this point in your life. Live auditions/interviews are encouraged and audition/interview days are scheduled on campus and in several other cities. The audition or recording must clearly demonstrate your level of performance and range of repertoire. 

In a live audition, expect to demonstrate your abilities in sight singing/sight reading and the identification by ear of various intervals, chords, scales and rhythmic patterns. When a live audition is not possible, you should submit evidence of ability in these musicianship skills. This evidence may take the form of letters from major teachers and/or transcripts of prior musical courses or private training.


Guitar

You are required to submit an online portfolio that reflect your musical interest and your best abilities as a guitarist and musician. Live auditions/interviews are encouraged and audition/interview days are scheduled on campus and in several other cities. There is no requirement for particular style or period. Audition pieces can be, but are not limited to, classical, jazz, rock, blues, world, flamenco or an original synthesis of styles. If your music encompasses a range of styles, we would like to hear representative examples, including your own compositions, if you have them. If you play primarily in groups, we would like to hear a group recording. In groups, clearly identify which part you are playing. Recorded auditions are assessed for the quality of the playing, not for the quality of the recording.

In a live audition, expect to demonstrate your abilities in music theory, sight singing/sight reading and the ability to perform and identify by ear various intervals, chords, scales and rhythmic patterns. When a live audition is not possible, you should submit evidence of ability in these musicianship skills. This evidence may take the form of letters from major teachers and/or transcripts of prior musical courses or private training. Please give us a history of how long you have been playing, what kind of music, and lessons and/or other studies you may have had so we can evaluate how you have progressed over time.


Percussion 

The faculty are interested in seeing and hearing recordings of your performance of three works in contrasting styles/instrumentation, including at least one ensemble piece if possible. Faculty are also interested in hearing original works. You are required to submit an online portfolio that showcases your work. Live auditions/interviews are encouraged and audition/interview days are scheduled on campus and in several other cities. Your portfolio must clearly demonstrate your level of performance and range of repertoire. In a live audition, expect to demonstrate your abilities in sight singing/sight reading and the identification by ear of various intervals, chords, scales and rhythmic patterns. When a live audition is not possible, you should submit evidence of ability in these musicianship skills. This evidence may take the form of letters from major teachers and/or transcripts of prior musical courses or private training.


Piano  

The faculty are interested in seeing and hearing application materials that offer a sense of who you are as an artist. You are required to submit an online portfolio that showcases your work as a creative artist at this point in your life. Live auditions/interviews are encouraged and audition/interview days are scheduled on campus and in several other cities.

You may also utilize the Disklavier Education Network (DEN) to audition at 27 locations throughout the U.S. Please make sure you also apply using the CalArts online application if you use DEN to audition.

What is DEN? The Disklavier Education Network (DEN) offers pianists the opportunity to record their college admission auditions on a Disklavier reproducing piano, complete with synchronized video. These performances are subsequently shared with audition committees through the cloud. When these recordings are played back on CalArts’ Disklavier piano, the piano will actually reproduce the original performance as though the student was playing live. (Please note: DEN charges a $150 fee for auditions). Learn more here.

Your audition or recordings should include your performance of three works in contrasting styles chosen from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Twentieth/Twenty-first Centuries. The audition or recording must clearly demonstrate your level of performance and range of repertoire. Memorization of the pieces to be performed is preferred. In a live audition, expect to demonstrate your abilities in sight-reading and the identification of chords, scales and rhythmic patterns. When a live audition is not possible, you should submit evidence of ability in these musicianship skills. This evidence may take the form of letters from major teachers and/or transcripts of prior musical courses or private training.


Keyboard Collaborative Arts

You are required to submit an online portfolio that showcases your work as a creative artist at this point in your life. Live auditions/interviews are encouraged and audition/interview days are scheduled on campus and in several other cities.

Please present one major instrumental sonata (for example: a Beethoven sonata for piano and violin), three art songs in different languages (for example: songs by Schubert, Debussy and Barber) and one solo piano work. Memorization of the solo repertoire is strongly recommended. The audition will also include a sight-reading component. The auditionee is encouraged to bring their own collaborators (singers and instrumentalists) but in cases where this is not possible musicians will be provided by CalArts.  


Artist Statement

You must include a detailed Artist Statement that outlines your goals as a music artist, your background in studying music, particular interests in studying music at CalArts, and area of Specialization. In your Artist Statement, be sure to also include the following:

Describe briefly your main interests in music right now.

  • Describe other musical interests you are involved in.
  • Describe the materials you will submit in your digital portfolio and how they demonstrate your musical interests.
  • Describe what you would like to learn at CalArts.
  • List any combinations of Specializations that you might like to create for yourself while at CalArts.