EMU Cello Studio

354 Alexander Building
Ypsilanti MI 48197
Phone: 734.487.1336
[email protected]

Audition Guide

Take Weekly Private Lessons

Most students who will be auditioning will have already been studying privately for varying amounts of time. I would be delighted to give you a list of names of private teachers in your area if you need. Tell your private instructor and/or orchestra director that you are interested in auditioning for music schools and  be sure that you and your private teacher not only work on your solo for Solo and Ensemble festival but the technical foundation and musical skills you will need to be successful for your college entrance including music theory and aural skills. 

Choose Your Audition Repertoire (sooner, not later)

As part of your private lessons, learn your major and minor scales (all three forms—major, melodic and harmonic minors) by memory. Be able to play these slurred and articulated. Always practice these with a metronome (quarter note = 60 is a good place to start), and work to be able to play all keys at the same metronome speed. As part of your audition for EMU, you will be expected to perform a select number of scales including major and minor (three forms).

Additionally, familiarize yourself with our Audition Repertoire Requirements so that you and your teacher can choose your audition program. The scales, études, and solo pieces that you choose should demonstrate your current level of playing and best technical and musical attributes.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If we were to compare music to athletics, you would not be surprised to hear that athletes who are intending to be involved on a sports team in college would spend much of their time in high school practicing the sport plus much time in the weight room or on the track or pool—improving their form and endurance. The practice room is our equivalent weight room. Make time to practice at least an hour a day, six days a week. Two+ hours is even better! Incorporate fundamental skills such as long tones, technical studies, and articulation in that session as well as repertoire. 

Apply Early for Admission

September or October is not too soon to submit your application. For almost all schools, you will need to apply for admission to BOTH the university and the School of Music. Search for any scholarships for which you are eligible and make sure you meet the admissions deadlines.

At EMU, our top scholarship competition, the Presidential Scholarship Competition, occurs during the first two Saturdays in December generally. If you have a 3.5+ GPA, you may qualify to take this exam and receive full tuition and Room & Board! Priority deadline for the application to take the exam is in November.

For consideration for ALL academic scholarships at EMU, you must be admitted to the university by February. 

For incoming freshmen and transfer students, you are automatically considered for academic scholarships at the time of admission, based on availability of funds. In addition, students who have submitted FAFSA information are automatically considered for federal financial aid and/or additional grants.

For priority scholarship and financial aid consideration, EMU strongly recommends that incoming freshmen and transfer students submit completed admission and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by the following January 15 for programs beginning in Fall.

Play a Solo at District Solo and Ensemble Festival

You can likely use the same solo as your audition music for auditions for music schools. Start learning the solo NOW. Enlist your teacher’s assistance to find a solo that works best for you.

Play Proficiency III at State Solo and Ensemble Festival

You do not have to have passed proficiencies I and II to play Proficiency III, you just have to be a senior. For Proficiency III, you need to learn all your scales major and melodic minor, and sight-read. This will help you be ready for your music school auditions, especially since you’ll have to perform scales and may sight-read as part of your audition at EMU. For reference, review the State Proficiencies for Strings [PDF].

Prepare an Ensemble for Festival in addition to your solo

Extra practice preparing chamber music and learning as much repertoire as possible is only beneficial to your musical growth.

Take advantage of events like our EMUSO Orchestra Festival, play in a local youth symphony or youth orchestra in your area, and participate in other music intensive festivals such as Interlochen, PhoenixPhest, Blue Lake, and others. Other schools offer similar events. Visit the campuses of schools in which you are interested and get to know the cello professors. Meet the other cellists in the cello studio. (Request to talk to the EMU CELLO studio members today! They are a terrific bunch and will answer any questions you may have. They will be able to provide firsthand insights into what it's like to be a college student in our school). Find the place where you are most comfortable yet challenged to reach for your very best.

Come to Campus for a Lesson

Prof. Pae is always delighted to offer a trial lesson at no charge at our mutual convenience. This is an opportunity for us to get to know one another, for me to hear you play, and to answer any questions you might have about our programs, the cello studio, and anything else you may be curious about. Contact me at [email protected].

Audition Early for admission to the School of Music & Dance at EMU

We have audition dates in January, February, and March. On audition day, you will audition on the cello in addition to taking theory and piano placement exams. You may also wish to visit campus on another day and “shadow” a cello major for the day by going to classes and rehearsals. Our student ambassadors are kind, enthusiastic young artists and they are happy to provide their experience being a student at EMU. For those who wish to do their auditions remotely, you may also meet our student ambassadors remotely as well.

Keep Practicing and Stay in Touch after the audition

The School of Music has rolling admissions so you will hear about the status of your admission shortly after your audition. At your audition, we will ask if you are auditioning at other schools, and we encourage you to do so! 

If you make an early decision about another school, we would be happy to know that. If you're still waiting for audition results from other schools or are still in the process of deciding, please let us know that as well. It is important to choose a school where you feel comfortable and to keep in good communication with the applied professor.

Summary Time Line


Take private lessons (if not already in progress). Choose your audition repertoire with your teacher.


Have a trial lesson with Prof. Pae. Prepare what you are currently working on with your private teacher (scales, etudes, and pieces) that demonstrates your best playing. Bring your questions and curiosities with you as well!


Apply for admission to EMU. Apply for admission to EMU School of Music and Dance and request an audition date. If you've applied but not scheduled a trial lesson, reach out to Prof. Pae to schedule one. Apply to take the Presidential Scholarship Exam, if eligible. Start preparing solo repertoire for District Solo and Ensemble Festival.


Take the Presidential Scholarship Exam, if eligible. Contact Prof. Pae about a trial lesson. Keep up the private lessons. Continue preparing for Solo and Ensemble. Practice, practice, practice (with a metronome)!


Contact Prof. Pae about a trial lesson. Visit campus. Participate in the EMUSO's Orchestra Festival in February. Perform for District and State Solo and Ensemble festivals. Audition for the School of Music and Dance at EMU and other schools. Stay in touch with Prof. Pae.


Please inform Prof. Pae of your final decision if you have not done so. 

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