Youth Orchestras

Youth Orchestra Member Portal

Coached by NJSO musicians, the NJSO Youth Orchestras give qualified middle- and high-school students—especially African-American and Latinx youth in the Greater Newark area—unparalleled opportunities to achieve personal and musical excellence.

NJSO Youth Orchestras: Audition for 2020–21!

Join the acclaimed NJSO Youth Orchestras for the 30th anniversary season! Students in grades 4–12 are invited to submit audition videos. Once you have registered, follow the directions below to upload you videos.


  1. Register
  2. View audition requirements
  3. Submit videos (see directions below)

How to submit audition videos

Audition videos will be accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis for any open roster spots.

Record yourself playing the requirements for the ensemble for which you would like to be considered. Smartphone or tablet videos are acceptable.

Make two videos:

  • One video for scale requirements. State each scale name before you play it.
  • Make a second video for excerpt requirements. State the number of the excerpt (marked in the music) before you play it.

Upload the two videos to YouTube (preferred) – you can make the videos private.

Email the video links to [email protected]. If you have another method to directly email videos (such as Cloud transfer), that is acceptable as well.

You will receive email confirmation within 2 business days that your audition videos have been received.

Watch an NJSO Academy Orchestra Virtual Performance


Go behind the scenes of the NJSO Youth Orchestras through a spotlight series presented by M&T Bank.

Program Benefits

The NJSO Youth Orchestras bring together students of all skill levels who share a passion for music. In addition to great music making across four performing ensembles, benefits include:

  • Coaching by NJSO musicians
  • Saturday rehearsals with flexibility for students in marching band
  • Volunteer opportunities and mentorship training
  • Additional performance opportunities for advanced students
  • Complimentary tickets to select NJSO concerts
  • Supportive peer-to-peer environment
  • Individualized instruction and musicianship training

Rehearsal Days & Locations

Via Zoom: Saturdays 9:30 am–12:30 pm (Academy Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, String Ensemble)

Via Zoom: Saturdays 11 am–2:30 pm (Training Ensemble only)

Frequently Asked Questions

What should my child/student prepare for the audition?
Audition requirements and orchestral excerpts will be posted to our website when the applications are made available.  While you are waiting for excerpts to be posted, your child should be working on his/her solo piece. We recommend that he/she prepare by playing the notes accurately and following dynamics; that the artistry and interpretation of the piece is appropriate; and most importantly, that he/she play with confidence! 

What should my child/student play for his/her solo piece?
A solo piece should be a piece that best represents his/her current playing abilities. Please review the audition requirements for the ensemble for which he/she will be auditioning. The solo piece does not need to be memorized, and will be performed unaccompanied (there is NO piano available.)  Solo pieces should be 2–3 minutes in length. Longer movements for more advanced students are fine, but please be aware the adjudicators may stop the student before the movement is complete, for time’s sake.

Will my child/student need to play all of the orchestral excerpts?
Your child/student should prepare all of the orchestral excerpts listed under the requirements for the ensemble for which he/she will be auditioning. It is up to the adjudicators’ discretion whether or not all excerpts will be played during the audition. 

Is there an audition fee?
No. There is no fee to audition for the NJSO Youth Orchestras.

How much does the NJSO Youth Orchestras program cost?
For the 2020–21 virtual season, the NJSO has suspended its sliding scale tuition fees for the Academy Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and String Ensemble. Only a modest participation fee is charged. For the full participation fee structure, please contact [email protected]. There is no tuition fee for participation in the Training Ensemble; there is only a $50 registration fee.

Do you accept students with little or no playing experience?
The NJSO Youth Orchestras offers beginner/preparatory strings instruction to students in the Greater Newark area only, through our Training Ensemble, which provides individualized instruction, subsidized instrument rentals (only a $20 instrument fee is charged per student) and musicianship training.

What if the audition deadline has already passed?
Occasionally, there will be openings during the season for select instruments. Contact [email protected] to find out if there are openings for your instrument.

Join the NJSO Youth Orchestras Alumni Network

Are you among the program’s alumni? We would love to reconnect with you!

We invite you to fill out this brief questionnaire and join our Facebook group.


Related Programs

El Sistema New Jersey Alliance

Funded by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, El Sistema New Jersey is a unique alliance of El Sistema-inspired music-instruction programs across the Garden State. Keys 2 Success, the Paterson Music Project, Sister Cities Girlchoir (Camden), Sonic Explorations (Orange), Trenton Music Makers and Union City Music Project are the anchor programs of this network. The aim of El Sistema New Jersey is to provide collaborative training, performance and professional-development opportunities that empower participating families to come together in a statewide musical community.

NJSO Academy Artistic Leadership

A group of dedicated professionals lead the NJSO Academy Programs.

Meet the Team

Sponsors make this program possible. Thank you!

  • BD
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • Merck Foundation
  • M&T Bank (Youth Orchestras Winter and Spring Concerts Sponsor)
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Turrell Fund
  • Wells Fargo
NJSCA-logo.jpg DJA-logo.jpg

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The NJSO Training Ensemble is supported by the following sponsors, in addition to those listed above:

  • Broadridge Foundation
  • Ken and Susan Fahrenholtz
  • The Leavens Foundation
  • The Harold I. and Faye B. Liss Foundation
  • Verizon
  • Victoria Foundation