New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra

Youth Orchestra Member Portal

Coached by New Jersey Symphony musicians, the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra gives qualified middle- and high-school students—especially Black and Latinx youth in the Greater Newark area—unparalleled opportunities to achieve personal and musical excellence.

Applications for the May 21st entrance auditions are now closed.

Additional audition opportunities for instrumental students currently in grades 3-11 will be announced. To join the waiting list for future auditions, please email and a member of the Education team will respond with more information.

Watch the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra Virtual Performance of the Theme from Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony


Go behind the scenes of the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra through a spotlight series presented by M&T Bank.

About the Program

The New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra brings together students of all skill levels who share a passion for music. There are four performing ensembles that are sequential in level, creating a pathway for students to flourish and grow under the guidance of the Symphony’s expert faculty:

In addition to great music making across four performing ensembles, benefits of the program include:

  • Coaching by New Jersey Symphony musicians
  • Individualized instruction and musicianship training
  • Flexibility especially designed for students in marching band
  • Volunteer opportunities and mentorship training
  • Additional performance opportunities for advanced students
  • Complimentary tickets to select New Jersey Symphony concerts
  • Supportive peer-to-peer environment

Rehearsal Days & Locations

Youth Orchestra ensembles rehearse between the hours of 9:30 am–3:30 pm.

In 2021–22, there will be a combination of in-person rehearsals and virtual classes. Students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to participate in person. There will be a virtual-only option for families unable or unwilling to receive the vaccination.

In-person rehearsals take place at John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Students from the Greater Newark area are welcome to ride the free shuttle bus provided by the Symphony from Newark to MSU.

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 New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra.

How much does participation in the program cost?
For the participation fee structure for 2021–22, please contact

Do you accept students with little or no playing experience?
The New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra 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 to find out if there are openings for your instrument.

Join the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra 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), 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.

New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra Artistic Leadership

A group of dedicated professionals leads the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Meet the Team

Sponsors make this program possible. Thank you!

  • Anna Drago
  • BD
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • Merck Foundation
  • M&T Bank
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Turrell Fund
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 New Jersey Symphony Training Ensemble is supported by the following sponsors, in addition to those listed above:

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