Performance Program FAQ

Here you will find answers to most of the questions you might have about playing and performing your instrument at the University. Please read it fully. 


Do I have to be a Music Major or Music Minor to participate in the performance program?

No. Membership in the Performance Ensembles is open to all University of Chicago students, both undergraduate and graduate, regardless of major or academic concentration.

Do I earn degree credit for my participation in the performance program?

Undergraduate musicians in the Performance Program are eligible to register their participation on a zero-credit, pass-fail basis. Beginning in Autumn 2019, music majors and minors who complete a full year in a performing ensemble or program with a passing grade may receive 1 credit toward the "Creative Practices" Major/Minor requirement. (Approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies required; max 3 units toward major, 2 units toward minor.) No tuition dollars are collected, but the students’ participation in the ensemble is reflected on his or her official University of Chicago transcript.



How do I get into a performance ensemble?

Most of the ensembles hold auditions at the beginning of the academic year, starting during Orientation Week itself. Several of the Special Repertory Ensembles do not require a formal audition for membership, since most students do not have prior experience with the particular instruments and/or performing traditions:  i.e., Early Music Ensemble, South Asian Music Ensemble, and Middle East Music Ensemble.  See the Auditions page or more information.

Are the auditions highly competitive?

The degree of competitiveness varies from ensemble to ensemble and also from year to year, depending on the particular pool of auditionees.  For the main instrumental and choral auditions, students may express their preference for a particular ensemble, but they are placed in an ensemble in accordance with audition results and ensemble needs.  In the case of limited seating within an ensemble or section, preference for membership is given to registered University of Chicago students, both undergraduate and graduate. The vast majority of students who audition for the Performance Program are placed in one of the ensembles, or accommodated in a chamber music group.

How often do the ensembles rehearse?

Most ensembles rehearse just once a week.  Several ensembles – e.g., University Symphony and University Chamber Orchestra – have periodic sectional rehearsals as well, plus an additional rehearsal the week before a concert.  One choral ensemble – i.e., the Motet Choir – rehearses two times a week.  See individual ensemble descriptions for more information, including dates, times, and locations of regular rehearsals.

May I participate in more than one ensemble?

Yes.  Rehearsal schedules and concert dates are all arranged to allow instrumentalists and singers to participate in more than one ensemble.  The Department of Music encourages students to explore the full range of performance opportunities on campus during the course of their College or graduate school career.

Do I have to participate in a performance ensemble all year long?

Generally musicians are both encouraged and expected to participate in a particular Performance Ensemble(s) all year long.  If a student is studying abroad for a quarter, or has other extenuating circumstances, then he or she can take a leave of absence from the ensemble and re-join later in the year.

Does the Music Department have a marching band?

No, and at present there are no plans for one. 



Do I have to have my own instrument?

Generally, yes.  The Department of Music does own some large band and orchestra instruments that are available for student use: e.g., a number of string basses, two concert harps, several bassoons plus a contrabassoon, a bass clarinet, a tenor and baritone saxophone, as well as several school piccolos.  University instruments are issued to the most qualified players who request them, and who plan to participate actively in a Department of Music Performance Ensemble.

The Department also owns a number of specialty instruments available to qualified members of the Early Music Ensemble, Middle East Music Ensemble, and South Asian Music Ensemble.

For standard orchestra and band instruments, there are several instrument stores in the area that rent instruments.  See repair options, listed below.  There are also a number of excellent string instrument shops in the Chicago area, many of which offer a large selection of instruments in a variety of price ranges.

What pianos are available for practice purposes?

Goodspeed Hall has practice rooms on the first floor, which are available for student use on a first-come, first-served basis.  These practice rooms have hours as follows: M-Th: 9am-10pm; F: 9am-5pm; Sat: 10am-8pm; Sun: 12pm-10pm. Currently six of the Goodspeed practice rooms have pianos; one room houses two pianos.

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts includes another twenty practice rooms: ten with grand pianos, four with upright pianos, and six other rooms designated for instrumental practice.  Most practice and rehearsal rooms in the Logan Center are available for use by students, faculty, and staff members with a current University of Chicago ID.  Some piano practice rooms on the fourth floor of the tower are reserved for advanced piano students, and one lower level practice room is reserved for string bass players.  Logan practice rooms can be accessed on a first-come, first-served basis, or may be reserved in advance for a specific date and time by sending an e-mail to

How can I get an instrument locker in Goodspeed or in the new Logan Art Center?

Instrument lockers in Goodspeed Hall can be requested through the Department of Music Main Office, GoH 309.

Instrument lockers in the Logan Center for the Arts can be requested in the Department of Music Performance Program Office, Logan 217. 

Priority for locker assignments in both locations is granted to students who are active in the Department of Music Performance Program.  Lockers are to be used for the storage of instruments, and not for coats, books, or sheet music.

Where can I get my instrument repaired?

String repairs are best handled by the A440 Violin Shop on the near north side of Chicago, which also sells strings, bows, rosin, mutes, etc.

Repairs to woodwind and brass instruments can generally be accomplished by Quinlan & Fabish, which has a representative who comes to campus once a week for pick-up and delivery.

Reeds and accessories are most easily purchased through a reliable online source.

For serious or complicated instrument repairs, ask Barbara Schubert, Director of Performance Programs.

How can I find a private teacher in the area?

The Department of Music maintains a list of affiliated and recommended private instructors who teach on campus or in the Hyde Park neighborhood.  For recommended instructors and contact information, send an e-mail request to

For more detailed recommendations, ask Barbara Schubert, Director of Performance Programs.

Where can I obtain sheet music?

A range of printed music for solo instruments and ensembles is available in Regenstein Library.  The music holdings are located in the third floor stacks, and are available for browsing as well as check-out.

Standard repertory sheet music as well as public domain orchestral parts can be downloaded free of charge from IMSLP.  Chamber music and solo literature can be purchased from many online vendors, including Performers MusicSheet Music Plus and Luck’s Music Library.