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Apply and Audition to Enter the EKU Guitar Program

Apply and Audition

Welcome! If you a prospective student, please begin by completing this Google form. After Dr. Davis ( receives your responses, he will contact you to discuss the application for admission to the EKU School of Music, scheduling an audition, and applying to and be accepted by Eastern Kentucky University ( Be sure to contact Dr. Davis if you have any questions about the application or audition process. Talented guitarists are also encouraged to apply for guitar scholarship consideration. If awarded, the amount of the guitar scholarship will be based on the talent of the applicant (not the financial need). All students are encouraged to prepare classical, jazz, and contemporary selections for their audition and Dr. Davis can help you prepare for your audition if you contact him by email ( to arrange coaching sessions. The suggested repertoire for scholarship consideration includes, but is not limited to:

Classical Guitar

1. Perform two works from the standard repertoire for classical guitar. These works should be selected from different style periods and have contrasting tempos. Suggested composers include J.S. Bach, Francisco Tárrega, Leo Brouwer, Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, John Dowland, and Andrew York. However, the list of composers for classical guitar is extensive and grows daily, so feel encouraged to ask if a particular work/composer is suitable for your audition. Prospective students should select works that best demonstrate their skills and abilities.

2. Fingerstyle sight-reading in the first three positions in various keys and with a variety of rhythms.

3. Two and three octave major and minor scales.

Contemporary Guitar (plectrum and/or fingerstyle)

Perform two contrasting jazz standards by playing the head, comping the changes, and then improvising over the chord changes. Students may bring their own recorded accompaniments or use backing tracks provided at their audition. Suggested styles include Swing, Latin, Blues, and Bebop, and representative songs include Autumn Leaves, All the Things You Are, Black Orpheus, Straigt No Chaser, Girl from Ipanema, Just Friends, Satin Doll, Blue Bossa, Blues for Alice, or similar selections from the Real Book.

Perform any contemporary guitar work of your choosing (pickstyle, fingerstyle, pop, jazz, blues, etc...). Selections by artists such as Andy McKee, Tuck Andress, Mike Stern, Tommy Emmanuel, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Chet Atkins, Earl Klugh, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Herb Ellis, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, or Al DiMeola, for example, are encouraged. You may also substitute an original composition for this part of the audition.


1. Written and aural examinations test the prospective student's knowledge of music notation, theory (aural/written), and history. While this test is only diagnostic, students are encouraged to prepare for it so that they can avoid remedial theory courses during their first year. Please prepare by studying our Music Theory Review Guide. If you have trouble, we offer remedial help to students during their first year at EKU. Please see the websites below for free theory and rhythm learning tools.

Basic Assumptions

Some high school guitarists are prepared to study guitar at the college level. However, most freshman guitar students have problems reading music and few have adequate classical preparation. These deficiencies are quite normal, but they need to be quickly resolved and those students will remain provisional until the end of their first semester.

It is assumed that all freshman guitar majors, regardless or their degree program, will work deligently to remedy any deficiencies that fall below the minimum national standards acceptable for collegiate guitar study at the freshman level. Such standards include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Ability to read music through the 5th position (12th position is needed by the end of the freshman year).
  • Ability to perform a variety of notated rhythms, including dotted and tied values, various 1/16th note groupings, and triplets.
  • A basic understanding of musical terms and nomenclature symbols, such as: D.S., repeat signs, key signatures, accidentals, ties/slurs, left/right hand fingering indications, pick-stroke markings, and basic Italian tempo and expression markings.
  • Knowledge of the modes and how they align with chords and chord progessions. The order of sonorities found in major and minor keys. The CAGED system of fretboard visualization and basic major 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th, half-diminished 7th, and diminished 7th chord shapes.

Again, no student has been able to perfectly execute all of these tasks at their audition. Some of my finest students could not read music well when they first began their guitar studies. Students who are serious about majoring in guitar quickly remedy their deficient areas. Its not important how many years you've owned a guitar; its how many hours you've practiced--and practiced intelligently with good problem solving skills.

YOUTUBE has a plethora of tutorial videos for guitarists to study. Use them to learn proper classical technique, sitting position, left and right hand mechanics (see rest strokes,free strokes, and fretting technique, for example) and there are also many video lessons of viable audition works, such as Lagrima.

There are numerous videos on how to play jazz, including chord shapes, the CAGED system, modes, and jazz standards.

Other sites teach users how to read notation and rhythms and understand music theory. Other youtube videos discuss specific strategies for learning how to read music on the guitar.

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