Tim Tai, Contributing Photographer

As admissions officers begin to review applications for the Yale School of Music’s incoming class, the total number of applications received is expected to be near last year’s record total. 

In their applications, which were due on Dec. 1, students were required to submit pre-screening recordings and questionnaires. The online application is just the first stage of the application process: a select number of students will be invited for a live audition in January and final admissions decisions will be made by March. Admitted students will have until April 15 to respond to their offer to matriculate. 

“It’s difficult to gauge where we are because we had a record [number of applications] broken last year, but we’re set to be almost as high this year,” said Donna Yoo, director of admissions at the Music School. 

Last year, an unprecedented number of applicants participated in the Music School’s fully-online audition process. According to Yoo, this was in part due to the School of Music having the resources to get through the pandemic due to its connection to the larger University. This was appealing to musicians in particular as they watched the music industry “crumble in front of their eyes” during the pandemic.

Yoo added that the full-tuition scholarship the Music School offers to all of its students, the Music School’s high-level training and the addition of new faculty members may all have played a part in attracting last year’s record number of applicants.

According to Yoo, the main characteristic the Music School looks for in its applicants is talent rather than previous experience studying music. For that reason, applicants are not required to have a bachelor’s degree in music from their undergraduate program.

“It’s very possible that you had a B.A. or B.S. from your undergraduate and are still just as great a musician,” Yoo said. “We welcome students from all backgrounds and that’s one thing that is distinctive about our program.”

As part of its effort to seek applicants from a greater variety of backgrounds, last year’s round of applications marked the first time that the Music School collaborated with a number of historically Black colleges and universities. According to Yoo, the Music School welcomed five students from HBCUs and waived their $100 application fee.

This year, YSM has 13 student applicants from eight different HBCUs. Yoo added that even though the partnership does not guarantee admission, the Music School still aimed to prevent the application fee from becoming a barrier to application.

Last year, the School of Music conducted online auditions for the first time. This year, the admissions office has still not made a decision about whether auditions will take place online or in person.

“We hope to bring [auditioning students to Yale’s campus] because there’s nothing like being able to see the campus and figure out if this is going to be their home for their graduate studies,” Yoo said. “I think that being able to see yourself in the city that you’re going to live in is important, especially for graduate students.”

While all applicants must participate in the audition process, the specific requirements and formats vary depending on the instrument or program. Flutist Danielle Maeng MUS ’22, who auditioned before the pandemic, had to submit a pre-screening video recording of assigned pieces and music excerpts. Then, she was invited for a live audition on campus. According to Maeng, being able to see the campus and meet professors is “essential” when deciding on a program. 

“The Yale School of Music is a very special place and since our program is small, we are quite a tight-knit community. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first came to Yale; however, one aspect I value most is the culture at the School of Music,” Maeng said. “Everyone is very passionate and focused on their musical careers but are also extremely supportive of one another. We are a family and I feel very lucky to be a part of such an artistic community.”

For students who are offered an audition, Cameron Cullen MUS ’22 recommended that they practice and try their hardest.

“I definitely was making mistakes and playing kind of badly at times in my audition, but I was just trying my hardest to be musical and be interesting,” Cullen said. “And that paid off.”

The Yale School of Music is located at 98 Wall St. 

Gamze covers music news for the Arts desk and writes for the WKND. She is a sophomore in Pauli Murray majoring in psychology and humanities.