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. 

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

Beginning with the 2019–20 season, the NJSO is proud to expand the program’s preparatory Training Ensemble of the Youth Orchestras to incorporate individualized instruction, juried student assessments and musicianship classes, modeled on its nationally recognized NJSO CHAMPS program.

Rehearsal Days & Locations

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

Bradley Hall, Rutgers University–Newark
110 Warren Street, Newark, NJ 07102


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

Arts High School
550 Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd, Newark, NJ 07102

Audition for 2020–21!

Audition Dates: May 16 & June 6, 2020 
Location: Bradley Hall, Rutgers–Newark 

For more information, email [email protected] or call 973.735.1733.

For more information about ensemble levels, view requirements and excerpts from the 2019–20 auditions.

2019–20 Audition Requirements and Excerpts


Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the audition?
Once in the audition room, the audition should take no more than 10 minutes.

What time should we arrive?
We recommend that you arrive 20–30 minutes prior to your scheduled audition time. Please do not arrive more than 30 minutes early. 

When and where are the auditions?
Auditions are generally held on a Saturday in late May or early June at Bradley Hall on the Rutgers—Newark campus. The confirmed audition date(s) will be posted on this website along with the application link in late January.

When are audition applications available?
Applications will be made available in late January.

Are video submissions permitted?
Video submissions are granted on a case-by-case basis. If you have an extenuating circumstance that warrants a video submission, please email [email protected] with the student’s name, instrument and why a video audition is being requested.

When will I receive an audition time slot?
Audition time slots will be available for sign-ups in late March or early April. Applicants will receive an email when the link to sign up is live.

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. 

Do we need to bring copies of the music, orchestral excerpts, solo piece, and scales?
You must bring your own copy of the solo piece. An additional copy for the adjudicators is appreciated, but not required. We recommend bringing copies of the scales and orchestral excerpts; however, it is not required.

How long until we are notified of the audition results?
Generally, audition results are emailed no later than the last week of June. We are not able to accept everyone. However, our conductors make every effort to place as many students as possible in the ensembles that best fit their playing abilities.

May I accompany my child/student into the audition room?
No. Parents/teachers must wait in the lobby and are not permitted to sit in on 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?
Once admitted to the program, there is a sliding tuition scale ($785–$1040 for the 2020–21 season) for all students participating in Academy Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and String Ensemble. Sibling discounts are available. To ensure that our program remains accessible, all families are eligible to apply for tuition assistance. Families residing in the Greater Newark area are eligible for an additional scholarship. Further instructions on how to request tuition assistance will be provided upon acceptance into the program.

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, part of the MANY partnership (Music Advancement for Newark-area Youth) with NJPAC. Please visit: for more details.

Do you host an open rehearsal for prospective students?
In early April we will host “Bring a Buddy Day” for prospective students to experience a day in the life of an NJSO Youth Orchestras musician. Details pertaining to this event will be announced in January. Please email [email protected] to reserve a spot, or check back on our website for more details.

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

MANY Partnership

Music Advancement for Newark-area Youth (MANY) offers programs for beginning and experienced students alike and is designed to provide students in the Newark area with high-quality instrumental music instruction.

More Info

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