Join the Orchestra

 We welcome new players!

See Ensemble page for details.

Please note that you must have your own instrument (except percussionists and pianists).

This page contains the following information:

Information for Spring 2024

We rehearse Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:30 PM in the Great Hall at Conrad Grebel University College.  If you might be interested in playing with orchestra@uwaterloo, please fill out the participant form and register for an audition on this page: orchestra@uwaterloo ensemble information


Suggested minimum playing levels

New players often ask what playing level the orchestra expects. In general, it is helpful to have a background that includes private lessons and some years of playing in an orchestra or a good band. If you have a keen interest, willingness to practice, and preferably some orchestral experience, we suggest you come to the open rehearsal to see for yourself. You can listen to selected orchestra recordings on the recordings page.

The issue is partly one of supply and demand. An orchestra needs large numbers of string players, but the number of woodwind and brass parts is specified in the score and is normally 2-3 per instrument. The instruments where auditions are really competitive are flute and clarinet. For these instruments, you are probably not a contender without the equivalent of Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 9.

This folder provides some excerpts you can use to audition. 

Audition Information

If you want to join orchestra@uwaterloo, you need to audition. Although everyone gets reconsidered every term, you do not need to re-audition every term. Your audition remains valid so long as you play in the orchestra at least one term a year. If you are not accepted into the orchestra your audition remains valid for one year. Anyone may re-audition at any time, and it is a good idea to re-audition if your playing has improved.

Your audition will be in private (and unaccompanied), for our music director and possibly a specialist in your instrument category.

Student playing instrument

Audition Requirements

All instruments except percussion

The purpose of the audition is to demonstrate two things: your approximate technical level, and your overall musicianship. To accomplish this please bring two contrasting musical excerpts – a fast passage that demonstrates your facility, and a slow one that shows your sense of style.

  • Music can be any two passages from the solo or orchestral repertoire.
  • Approximate duration: fast passage – 1 minute; slow passage – 2 minutes.
  • You will also be asked to do a little sight reading.

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet

  • You have the option of using audition excerpts provided by the orchestra upon request. Please see the excerpts provided. 

Bassoon, Cello

  • Sight reading will include tenor clef.
  • If you have no experience in reading tenor clef you will not be put on the spot, but you must agree to practice this skill during the term.

Horn, Trumpet

  • Sight reading will include transposition.
  • If you have never transposed before you will not be put on the spot, but you must agree to practice this skill during the term.

Percussion Instruments

  •  You may audition on one, some, or all of the following:
    • Timpani
    • Xylophone
    • Snare drum
    • Other: bass drum, cymbals, tambourine, triangle
  • See orchestra excerpts for audition pieces. 
  • Optional: in addition, you may bring a prepared piece of your own.
  • When you come to audition you will be given time to practice before the audition begins.


The membership fee for one fall/winter term with orchestra@uwaterloo for those not taking orchestra for credit is:

  • $30 for students
  • $60 for everyone else

We are happy to make special arrangements for those who cannot afford the fee.  Fees will be collected online, we will send you the link once you pass the audition.