Join the Orchestra

Conductor directing the orchestraThis page contains information about playing in orchestra@uwaterloo. We welcome new players!

orchestra@uwaterloo maintains a database of (potential) players. Once you are in the database, you can log in at any time to update your information and to register for the upcoming term. If you are new to orchestra@uwaterloo and interested in playing with us, please read the information on this page and then register yourself in the database. Please note that you must have your own instrument (except percussionists and pianists).

orchestra@uwaterloo registration

This page contains the following information:

Information for Fall 2021 

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 register using the link above.

2021 Fall orchestra info sheet

Open rehearsal

Each term begins with an open rehearsal where everyone who is interested in joining (including former members) comes to read through some of the repertoire planned for the term. For new players this is your chance to check out the level of the orchestra. Auditions take place at Conrad Grebel University College, after the open rehearsal on September 15, 2021.

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.

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.

Audition signup

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. Email

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
  • We will provide you with the audition music - request a copy by email, or pick one up at the open rehearsal.
  • 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 is:

  • $50 for students
  • $70 for staff
  • $90 for faculty
  • $70 or $90 for alumni depending on income

We are willing to make special arrangements for those who cannot afford the fee.  Fees will be collected at a rehearsal once the orchestra has been formed, cash, credit, or cheque only.