Are you interested in joining the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony or Classical Orchestra? Auditions for both ensembles are held each May for the following season.

Changes for 2021-2022

Due to the coronavirus, we are once again changing how auditions will take place for the 2021-2022 season. Instead of attending in-person auditions, we are asking students to upload a video of their prepared audition piece, scales & sight-reading on or before May 24. Please review the information below carefully. If you have questions, please contact us at 616-842-6566 or
  • Current students: If you are a current member of either Youth Symphony or the Classical Orchestra and wish to stay in your current orchestra in 2021-2022, you must log into the Members Only site and choose “save spot” by May 17. This will secure your spot for next year! (Current students would have to re-audition if they wish to change to a different instrument or if a Classical Orchestra student wants to join the Youth Symphony.)


Students are eligible to audition if they are:

  • Between the ages of 12 and 21.
  • A member of their school band and/or orchestra or a comparable program for homeschoolers. (School band and orchestra leaders: Read this letter from Conductor John Varineau to you.)
  • Prepare to commit to the rehearsal and concert schedule. (Wind players: Monday evening rehearsals may conflict with marching band schedules. Conflicts are normally resolved between school band directors and the GRYS staff.)

There is only one audition for the two groups:

Audition Process*

*This is the process for the 2021-2022 season. Here are the steps to follow:

1 –> Complete the audition application: The application deadline with the video upload is May 24, 2021. A $30 audition fee is required, payable by PayPal or credit/debit card.

2 –> Submit a video recording of your prepared piece no later than May 24, 2021: See below for details about the prepared solo or etude for your instrument (note special instructions for percussionists below). You will find detailed instructions on the audition site after you’ve completed the audition application. The audition performance can be uploaded at anytime before May 24. The scales and sight reading can be uploaded starting May17 till May 24. In summary: Please record a video of yourself performing your prepared piece, scales and sight-reading — with a clock in the background so we can see that the performance was recorded in a single take. Upload the video file to our audition website. We will convert your video file to an audio file to keep your audition anonymous.

For Strings, Winds, and Harp

1. Prepared solo or etude:

  • 3 to 5 minutes in length (without piano accompaniment) — work with your private lesson instructor to select an appropriate piece; select the portion of the piece that best showcases your abilities
  • NO extra copy of the music is needed for the audition judge
  • Solo does not have to be memorized

2. Sight-reading (there will be a link and uploading will start May 17 – May 24)

3. Memorized scales: (there will be a link and uploading will start May 17 – May 24)

  • Major: C, G, D, A, E, F, Bb, Eb, Ab
  • Melodic minor: A, E, B, F#, C#, D, G, C, F
  • Chromatic scale
  • Scale sheets/books are NOT allowed

For Percussion

NOTE: For the 2021-2022 season, percussion auditions will be by special arrangement with the Youth Symphony adjudicators and will NOT involve an uploaded video. Proficiency on the following instruments is desirable but not mandatory: timpani, snare drum, multiple percussion, mallets.

1. Prepared performance:

  • Short solo on timpani, snare drum, multiple percussion, and/or mallet (concert type, not rudimental or drum set) — NO extra copy of the music is needed for the audition judge; solo does not have to be memorized
  • Long roll on timpani and snare: soft to loud to soft

2. Sight-reading(there will be a link and uploading will start May 17 – May 24)

3. Memorized scales (there will be a link and uploading will start May 17 – May 24)

  • Major scales: C, F, Bb, G, D — on mallets (xylophone or marimba)

After Your Audition

  • Our adjudicators/music staff places students according to the quality of their recorded audition.
  • You will receive an email notifying you of your audition results in June or July. String players may be placed in either the Classical Orchestra or the Youth Symphony. (Chair assignments are determined three times during the season by chair auditions.)
  • IF YOU RECEIVE A LETTER OF INVITATION to the GRYS or Classical Orchestra, be sure to do the following to complete your membership:
    1. Return to the audition site and fill out the commitment and information form.
    2. Pay your $200 tuition fee via PayPal (note that tuition assistance is available)