Have you dreamed of playing in CYSO? Make that dream a reality by auditioning for one of our award-winning programs!

CYSO provides young musicians with the tools they need to grow and thrive. Students learn from the city’s top educators and collaborate with young people who share their passion for music. Ensembles are open to young people ages 6-18 and need-based financial assistance is available for all programs.

WHY ORCHESTRA? While individual instruction is vital to students’ musical development, ensemble playing challenges them to grow in new and different ways. CYSO is a learning environment like no other, bringing youth from across the Chicago region together to collaborate and create. Orchestra skills are fundamental in and out of rehearsal; Leadership, self-confidence, teamwork, and resilience are critical as young people grow into future leaders. In fact, CYSO graduates can be found at the top of every field, including in nearly every major orchestra in the United States!

Whether a video or in-person audition, CYSO judges will be evaluating your performance based on a few specific criteria only.

Things the judges DO consider:

• Rhythmic accuracy
• Rhythmic stability (steady tempo)
• Intonation (playing in-tune with yourself)
• Tone quality
• Dynamic contrast
• Instrument-specific technique
• Musicality, expression, and phrasing
• Appropriateness of repertoire for your technical level
• Ability to recover if you make a mistake
• Careful preparation of all audition music

Things the judges DO NOT consider:

• The audio quality of the device you used to record
• The video quality of the device used to record
• Where you recorded your video and what it looked like (bedroom, living room, bathroom, etc. However, acoustics can be an issue if, for example you record in your bathroom and the sound is unclear due to the echo. Wherever you record, make sure you can be clearly heard.)
• Race or ethnicity
• Gender or gender presentation
• If you have a private teacher or who your teacher is
• Other auditions you’ve taken or groups you’ve played with
• How fancy or expensive your instrument is

CYSO Membership


CYSO membership is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Students have an opportunity to create wonderful musical memories and experiences that they will carry with them for a lifetime.  As members, students and families are asked to maintain CYSO’s high standards.