Our students receive the highest quality training in cello, bass, violin, viola, harp, string bass and guitar. Our faculty continue to perform with orchestras and ensembles around the world as well as offer master classes and residencies with highly respected music programs.

Audition Requirements

Applicants should prepare 2 or 3 contrasting works, preferably including a movement of a standard concerto and a movement of unaccompanied Bach. The audition will last about 15-20 minutes, and may include major and minor scales and sight-reading.

Audition Information for Guitar (BM, BMME, BA)

An Audition may be requested using the online Audition Request Form for regular auditions in January, February, and March. For auditions any other time of year, contact Professor Hennings. The following list serves as a guide to choosing appropriate audition material for incoming undergraduate students. Although this list serves only as a suggestion, please choose literature that is similar in style, depth, and breadth. The purpose of an audition is to demonstrate your talents, so choose literature that you are comfortable with.

Prospective music majors and minors should demonstrate ability in three (3) core areas: sight reading, scales and repertoire. Since time constraints of the audition process limit the total interview time, students may choose to submit additional video/DVD materials that includes other performances such as previous auditions or live concerts.

Please note that auditionees must play from original scores of their selected music – no duplicated copies will be allowed.

If a personal audition is not possible, you may submit a video/DVD audition (audio recordings will not be acceptable for auditions). However, only live auditions can be considered for a scholarship.

Required Areas

Technical demonstration and/or theoretical understanding of all major and minor scales and arpeggios - two octaves. Sight reading of easy studies such as Carcassi or Giuliani A standard solo work or study to demonstrate musicianship such as
  • a movement from a Lute suite, Cello Suite or Sonatas & Partitas for Violin by J.S. Bach.
  • a work selected from one of the following or similar composers Heitor Villa-lobos, Manuel Ponce, Leo Brouwer, Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco, Andrew York, Roland Dyens, Carlo Domeniconi, John Duarte, Abel Carlevaro, Agustin Barrios, etc.


All questions pertaining to repertoire, auditions, or curriculum can be directed to:
Dieter Hennings, Professor
Director of Guitar Studies

Optional Areas

Ensemble performance: If you participated in a related ensemble during high school, this is an adequate optional material for your audition
Graduate Audition Information for Guitar (MM, DMA)

Along with the application to the UK School of Music and the Graduate School, all graduate student applicants for guitar must submit a pre-screening recording to the Director of Guitar Studies. An example audition repertoire is provided below. An accessible link to this recording must be submitted no later than March 1 of the year prior to entrance. All applicants should include a copy of their audition repertoire with the recording submission.

Graduate Music Performance applicants who have been invited to campus for an audition/interview are required to take entrance exams in the areas of music theory and music history. Please consult "Graduate - Entrance Exams" in the Admissions section of the School of Music web site.

There are a limited number of graduate Teaching Assistantship opportunities. Although they are not available every year, these positions are highly competitive and will only be awarded to select candidates who have successfully completed the audition process, required entrance exams, and have been accepted by the Graduate School and the School of Music Graduate Committee.

The following lists serve as a guide to choosing appropriate audition material for prospective graduate students. Please feel free to contact Professor Hennings, if you have questions about appropriate literature.

Examples of repertoire for audition (pieces of similar difficulty should be performed in audition):

Bach, J. S. Lute Suites Berkeley, L Sonatina Britten, B. Nocturnal Dyens, R. Libra Sonatina, Tango en Skai; Suadade #3 Giuliani, M. Sonata Eroica, Op.150 Pereira, M. Pieces Bresiliennes Piazzolla, A. Tango transcriptions


All questions pertaining to repertoire, auditions, or curriculum can be directed to:

Professor Dieter Hennings,

Reference materials:

Tennant: Pumping Nylon Technique Handbook Romero: Guitar Style and Technique Duncan: Art of Classical Guitar Playing Shearer: Learning the Classic Guitar Berg: Mastering Guitar Technique Royal Conservatory of Music Guitar Series Klickstein: The Musician’s Way

Students should also demonstrate knowledge of the following guitar publications

Etude requirements (students should have played in their undergrad one of the following sets of studies): Brouwer: Simple Etudes, Volumes 1-4 Carcassi: Etudes, op. 60 Sor: 20 Etudes, Segovia edition and various op. Giuliani: Etudes, op. 48 Villa-lobos: 12 Etudes, 5 Preludes
  • Ponce, M. Theme varie et Finale Pujol, M. D. Elegia por la muerte de un tanguero
  • Rodrigo, J. En los trigales, Three Spanish Pieces
  • Sor, Fernando Variations on the Magic Flute
  • Walton, W. Five Bagatelles
  • a movement from a Lute suite, or Sonatas & Partitas for Violin by J.S. Bach

6 Tips to Prepare for Life as a College Guitar Major

by Jim Campbell; adapted for guitar students by Dieter Hennings

The college-bound classical guitarist will face some exciting challenges in preparation for a professional career. Classical guitar crosses many musical boundaries and guitar students have a wide possible vocabulary of techniques and musical genres to master - more than most instrumentalist. Although some students don’t decide to declare a major until after they have started college, this is not a wise move if music is on your list of options. Music is a serious profession and a “fast-track” major because you start required coursework in your first semester of college. Focus on maintaining good grades during your senior year of high school (and even earlier) as you prepare your audition for college. With a little planning and preparation during your high school career, you can help to make a smooth transition into your new life as a university level guitar major.

1. Take Your Academic Classes Seriously

Get good grades now. Being academically organized and successful will give you more time to practice. Many times, college instructors hear that, “I practice a lot, so my grades aren’t that good.” This attitude doesn’t cut it any more. If you catch a bad case of “senioritis” in high school, you may have to go to a junior college or take preparatory and review courses to bring your grades up to an acceptable level before you can transfer to a prestigious music school. Schools are more selective these days; therefore you must be academically sound. College Admission Offices look at your grades as an indicator of your work ethic and potential for success. Who knows, if your high school transcripts are good and you do well on your college entrance exams, you may even place out of several required classes – leaving you even more time to practice!

2. Get Experience Outside of Your School Program

Take private lessons from an experienced teacher as regularly as possible. Tell them that you want to be ready for college auditions. A good teacher will move you in the right direction and help find study materials and solo repertoire that will capitalize on your strengths and work on your deficiencies as well. If there is a college in your area in which you are interested, take private lessons with the professor or a graduate student. This will prepare you for life in the “trenches”.

Attend a summer guitar festival. Increase your knowledge of the guitar profession. There are many festivals and workshops that give students the opportunity to interact with nationally recognized professional artists and educators. Also, develop a relationship with the guitar specialist at your local music dealer. They can keep you informed of new products, services, and in-store clinics.

Go to the public library and look for books, journals, and magazines that are related to music and classical guitar. Search for web sites that offer resources for classical guitar. Develop a passion for information related to your new profession.

Attend as many concerts as possible to help become a well-rounded and informed musician. There is no substitute for the experience of live music, as it will open your mind and ears as it provides you with creative ideas and inspiration. Universities and community concert associations usually sponsor artist series events and recitals. Libraries, museums, and other civic groups also sponsor concert events. Be on the lookout for every opportunity you can have to hear a variety of live music, not just concerts that focus on guitar but all other instruments in genres of music. Your goal is to become the best musician you can be, one that just happens to play the classical guitar.

Look for performance opportunities outside of school such as church, service clubs and organizations, libraries, music stores, community venues, theaters and music halls. This experience will help build your resume of activities.

Join your local guitar society or the Guitar Foundation of America. GFA is a worldwide network of performers, teachers, students, enthusiasts and guitar clubs. They service their membership through publications such as Soundboard Magazine, web site at

3. Research Your College List

Apply to as many schools as you can afford to. Don’t limit your application to one school – you might not get accepted. Get all the facts from the colleges you are interested in. Start early to look for music programs that can help you prepare for a professional career. All schools have some specific audition requirements. Call or e-mail them to get their particular requirements before you choose and prepare your music. Check out their website and other media networks they maintain and become familiar with the faculty and program offerings. Ask to be put on their mailing list for notice of concerts and recitals. This is handy to know when planning a campus visit.

Ask about the availability of both academic and music scholarships. Do some research and check around your community for additional scholarship opportunities. Some service organizations and clubs have scholarships available to talented students.

4. Plan Your Campus Visits

Take a campus tour before you audition. When you have narrowed your college choices, plan to take an audition at each school rather than just your first choice. Schools can be very selective in today’s academic climate and the best schools will likely have only a few spots open each year.

Plan your visit when there are concerts going on to see the place in action. Ask to observe rehearsals. Ask if they can suggest a student to give you a walking tour and make note of the social and musical environment. Listen to all the music groups you can and sit-in on an academic class, if possible. As music major, you will learn from other students and the entire faculty - not just the guitar teacher.

Many out-of-state schools may accept audition videos, have regional auditions, or have you audition for an alumnus in your area. Most schools prefer for you to audition “live” on their campus, especially if you are auditioning for a scholarship.

5. Preparing for the Audition

Select music that is both technically appropriate and musically expressive (see audition repertoire information). You want to demonstrate both technique and musicality. Many students think they will be impressive if they play the hardest stuff - wrong! Choose music you can master. The most challenging aspect of performance is doing something well at any level. You make a better impression when you have command over your instrument and the music, more so than when you just try to hack through the infamous “Black Page”.

Most college guitar programs suggest that you prepare audition material and be prepared to sight-read music and perform scales (such as Segovia scales a similar popular edition). Also remember three important things: sight-reading, sight-reading, and sight-reading! You will probably be asked to sight read in your audition. Develop a strategy for reading new music and practice it everyday. Play for yourself and others before you go to an audition. Audio record a mock-audition and evaluate yourself. Play for your parents, church group, classmates, relatives, friends, etc.

Bring the original scores of all the music you play for your audition. It will be helpful for the audition panel to have duplicated copies of your music, provided you show them the original. The copies can be discarded after the audition. Duplicating copyrighted music is unethical and illegal, but is allowed for a one-time use, provided you own the original.

Prepare a resume for your audition. List your school work, activities, honors and awards, and be sure to note any musical activities or accomplishments you have had outside of school. List your music teachers and include at least three references. Although you should dress like you’re on a job interview, you will want to wear something comfortable for your audition.

Arrive at the audition early to fill out any paper work, warm-up, and set-up. There may be a time limit for your audition. Because many music schools have busy audition dates, you may only get to play excerpts from your prepared music. Don’t be upset if this happens, prepare for this situation in front of others so you won’t get flustered or distracted.

Develop a list of questions to ask your audition panel or during another campus visit. Talk with your parents, music teachers, siblings, and friends who have been to college to develop a set of questions and issues that are important to making your decision to attend college that is right for you. Remember, you are interviewing them as well! Specific issues relating to guitar may include questions such as:

Will I study with the guitar professor or a graduate assistant? What kinds of repertoire and technique method books will I study?


Bring along a parent, guardian, or teacher to your audition. They should meet the college instructors and be familiar with the environment where you will be spending countless hours. Their impressions of the college may provide you with valuable perspective.

  • How long are the practice rooms open?
  • How do I get selected for guitar ensemble, and when do I audition for these groups?
  • Do I own an appropriate classical guitar that will help me develop my playing to its fullest potential?
6. After You Have Been Accepted

Start to gather your own music, recordings and other required materials for the fall semester. Music can be an expensive endeavor. Plan your finances to include regular purchases for guitar equipment and accessories. Remember to ask if your new college has any summer music programs or can recommend any summer symposiums/festivals for you to attend.

From attending classes to practicing to living independently, life as a college musician is both stimulating and intense. Rich Holly’s book “Majoring in Music: All the Stuff You Need to Know,” published by Meredith Music Publications, is an excellent no-nonsense guide to help you and your parents meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of your college years.

The best schools can afford to be selective, so be prepared both academically & musically. With some planning and patience, you can make an informed decision about which college to attend and get yourself organized and prepared for an exciting life as a college guitarist. If you have a passion for what you are doing, working hard will be fun and help lead to a rewarding career.

Questions: Professor Dieter Hennings,

Created 07/26/2021
Last Updated 12/02/2022