Welcome to the Department of Music at Calvin and PASSPORT. If you are an incoming student (first-year or transfer student) and are interested in performing with one of Calvin's eight music ensembles, you will want to make sure to register for the Music Department Information Session that takes place during your PASSPORT orientation.

Auditions for bands, orchestra, and choirs will take place in September. More information regarding this process will be shared at the Music Department Information Session.

You will receive correspondence from the music department regarding PASSPORT before you arrive on campus so make sure you check you check your email often.

Explore Passport
Auditions
FAQ
Please note that auditions for bands, orchestra, and choirs take place on campus in September.

Choirs at Calvin

To audition for Campus Choir, Capella, Oratorio Society, Gospel Choir, or Women's Chorale please prepare a verse (melody line) from one of the following hymns (memorization NOT required):

Please bring two copies of the hymn along to your audition (one for you and one for the professor).

The audition will consist of:

  • Vocalizations
  • Sight reading
  • Tonal memory
  • Prepared hymn verse (memorization NOT required)

Please note the following:

  • You will not need an accompanist.
  • If you have indicated an interest in voice lessons, this audition will also serve as your placement for a voice teacher.
  • Chorale Audition Forms will be available when you check-in for your audition.

Bands at Calvin

Welcome to the Bands at Calvin! The formal audition for Jazz Band, Pep Band, Symphonic Band, or Wind Ensemble will take place in September when you arrive on campus for the fall semester. However, a mandatory meeting for all first year and transfer students who are interested in the band program will take place during your PASSPORT orientation session. This will be a great opportunity for you to be introduced to the band program, along with the director Dr. Tiffany Engle, and current students. You will receive additional information about audition requirements and performance expectations. This meeting will take place in the Covenant Fine Arts Center. You will recieve an email from our office one week prior to your orientation session with more information regarding the exact time and place of the meeting. Your scheduled meeting will also be noted on your PASSPORT orientation schedule.

If you would like additional information about the bands at Calvin, please contact Dr. Tiffany Engle at tje4@calvin.edu or (616) 526-6304.

Orchestra at Calvin

Welcome to the Calvin Orchestra! The formal audition for the orchestra program will take place in September when you arrive on campus for the fall semester. However, a mandatory meeting for all first year and transfer students who are interested in the orchestra program will take place during your PASSPORT orientation session. This meeting is a great opportunity for you to learn about the orchestra program and recieve your music for the fall auditions and concerts. Prof. John Varineau, orchestra director, and Dr. David Reimer, director of the Calvin string area, are eager to meet you and learn about you and your musical interests. This meeting will take place in the Covenant Fine Arts Center. You will receive an email from our office one week prior to your orientation session with more information regarding the exact time and place of the meeting. Your scheduled meeting will also be noted on your PASSPORT orientation schedule.

If you would like additional information about Calvin Orchestra, please visit the Orchestra page.

How can I participate in a Band, Orchestra and/or Choir this fall?

If you noted an interest in performing with one of Calvin’s ensembles on your Passport orientation form, the Music Department will pre-register you for either Symphonic Band, Orchestra or Campus Choir whichever is appropriate for your area of interest. This registration will act as a place holder in your fall schedule. During the first week of class, auditions will be held for placement in all eight Music Department ensembles.

Are there auditions for the music ensembles at Calvin?

Yes, there are auditions for all eight music ensembles (Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Capella, Women’s Chorale, Campus Choir, Gospel Choir & Oratorio). If you have noted your interest in one of Calvin’s performance ensembles on your Passport orientation form, the Music Department will pre-register you for either Symphonic Band, Orchestra or Campus Choir whichever is appropriate for your area of interest. If you have not had a chance to get pre-registered, there will be plenty of time during the first week of class to audition and add the ensemble to your schedule.

Will I be able to select the ensemble I’m in?

The audition process will determine the most appropriate ensemble for you based on your ability, skill level and musicianship. On some occasions vocalists will be granted permission into more than one choir. When this occurs, students can determine which choir(s) they desire to sing in and which ones work well for their schedule.

What is included in the audition process?

The audition process for each area is unique. The ensemble directors will contact you via email in August to inform you of the requirements of your auditions.

How do I sign-up for an audition time?

CHOIR: You will be notified that audition dates and time are available and will sign up for a choral audition time through Sign-up Genius. This link will be made available to you in late August and you will be notified by email.
BAND/ORCHESTRA: Audition times are handled by the director and arranged via email in late August.

Where will auditions take place?

CHOIR: Auditions take place in the lower level of the Covenant Fine Arts Center in the practice suite hallway. You will be assigned a designated room number once your audition date and time have been selected.
BAND/ORCHESTRA: Auditions take place in the lower level of the Covenant Fine Arts Center in the practice suite hallway. You will be assigned a designated room number once your audition date and time have been selected.

Who will hear my audition?

CHOIR: Choir auditions are heard by the Choral and Vocal faculty of the Calvin Music Department. Students interested in Campus Choir, Capella, Women’s Chorale and Oratorio will be heard by Prof. Pearl Shangkuan, Prof. Sean Ivory, and Prof. Benita Wolters-Fredlund. Gospel Choir will be heard by Prof. Nate Glasper.
BAND/ORCHESTRA: Students who play wind, brass and percussion instruments will have their audition heard by Prof. Tiffany Engle and Prof. John Varineau. Students who play string instruments will be heard by Prof. John Varineau.

Which ensemble should I choose?

Calvin has eight different student ensembles: two concert bands, a symphony orchestra and five choirs. Please check out the Ensembles webpage for more information about participation in each of these groups.

Can I participate in more than one ensemble?

Many Calvin students participate in two or more ensembles each semester and, in spite of the time requirement, consider ensemble participation recreative (and a good stress-reliever!) and not a burden to their other coursework. However, please think carefully about how much time you would like to dedicate to ensemble rehearsals each week and plan your schedule accordingly. If you have questions or need advice on picking an ensemble, please contact the Music Office.

Do I have to audition for admission to the music program?

The Music Department does not require a music major audition prior to admission to Calvin. Permission to major in music is granted usually at the end of the first year based on a list of requirements.

What music degrees do you offer?

Calvin offers two music degree programs: Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Music Education degree (BMEd) with a vocal or instrumental concentration.

Can I participate in ensembles without being a music major?

Whether you plan to major in music or biochemistry, Calvin offers plenty of opportunities to sing or play together with other musicians. All Calvin students may participate in an ensemble or take private lessons.

What can I do with a music major from Calvin?

Alumni of the Calvin Music Department have gone on to do a variety of things in music including further study in graduate school, teaching music, playing in the Grand Rapids Symphony, playing in a bluegrass band, and much more!

Where do music majors go for graduate school?

Calvin Music Department alumni have gone on to study in prestigious music schools such as the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Westminster Choir College, Western Michigan University, and Yale.

Do you offer music scholarships?

Calvin offers scholarships for piano, organ, strings, voice, winds, and percussion. There are also many scholarships available (for returning students) in music in worship, composition, music theater, and education. Auditions for first-year scholarships are held in February.

What kind of music facilities does Calvin have?

Calvin's Fine Arts Center houses well-equiped music classrooms, rehearsal halls (instrumental and choral), teaching studios, practice rooms, a state-of-the-art music theory computer lab and the acoustically outstanding auditorium. Available to students and faculty are one Bosendorfer and five Steinway grand pianos, approximately 20 practice rooms, two harpsichords, six pipe organs, and a valuable collection of string, wind, percussion, and early music instruments. In addition, Calvin's large chamber music library and the Hekman Library, with its large music divisions of the Hekman Library and the Cayvan Recorded Media Center, provide valuable resources for both students and faculty.

Do you have chamber music opportunities?

Calvin has a variety of chamber music opportunities for string, piano, wind, and vocal students. These include string quartets, Collegium Musicum (early music ensemble), Chamber Winds, and more.

What musical opportunities are there in Grand Rapids?

There are a variety of musical opportunities in the Grand Rapids area. Calvin students are involved in worship services at area churches, they teach private lessons, and perform for weddings or special events. In addition, West Michigan has a vital musical community with organizations such as the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Opera Grand Rapids, Bach Chorale, West Shore Symphony Orchestra, and the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band.

May I take trial lessons from faculty members?

We would be happy to set up a trial lesson for you with one of our applied music faculty. Please contact the Music Department to schedule a lesson.

When I come to visit Calvin, may I observe music classes and ensembles?

As part of the Fridays at Calvin program, you will have the opportunity to visit a variety of different classes as well as some of the music ensembles. Observations can also be arranged at other times. Please contact the Music Department or the Admissions Office for more information.