The process of appraising applicants’ suitability for the Conservatorium High is informed by the Department’s policy on gifted and talented education [PD/2004/0051/V03]. It draws on a mix of objective and subjective assessments, data that is derived from auditions, workshops, school reports and academic tests.
After all the requisite data has been collated, a list of recommended candidates together with supporting documentation is presented to the school’s Placement Panel for its consideration. Successful candidates and their parents are invited to an interview with the Principal (or nominee) to formally receive the Offer of Placement and to discuss their child’s academic and musical aspirations and the educational opportunities which this school can afford their child.
There is one application round each year. It takes place in Term 3. Students who envisage applying for entry into Year 7 should ensure they sit the NSW Selective High School Placement Test or are able to provide the results of a current WISC-V test [Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 5th ed., 2016]. The whole assessment and appraisal process, involving as it does both High School and Sydney University staff, is lengthy and exhaustive; from audition to placement decision can take up to six weeks.
Instrumental applicants audition on instruments that are currently taught in the Conservatorium of Music. Applicants for Yr 11 entry who want Composition or Musicology to be considered their Major (primary area) must present a portfolio of original compositions and arrangements, or a portfolio of substantial musicological &/or analytical essays, in addition to auditioning on an instrument or voice.
- Keyboard piano, harpsichord, pipe organ.
- Strings violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, harp, Guitar
- Woodwind flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone
- Brass French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba
- Percussion timpani and percussion
- Jazz Studies
In order to maintain viable ensembles, the school may give priority to certain instruments. Which instruments are deemed to be priority instruments can vary from year to year. Students who play more than one of the above instruments are encouraged to consider registering to audition on both.
At audition applicants should be ready to play three stylistically contrasting pieces. They might also be asked to play some technical work like scales and arpeggios. It is highly desirable that one or more of the pieces be performed from memory. A movement of a multi-movement composition can serve as one piece.The audition panel might ask to hear only part of a piece depending on time restrictions.
- Sight-reading will be tested at the audition.
- Applicants should bring to the audition a list of recently studied repertoire.
- The audition panel is interested in musical attributes. They are looking for candidates whose musicianship is characterised by the following qualities:
- Focus and concentration
- Control and accuracy
- Expressiveness and sensitivity
- Interpretive insight and imagination
- Projection and flair
The Conservatorium offers pipe organ; electronic organ is not available.
- Students who have studied electronic organ must audition on the understanding that, if successful, they will need to transfer to a pipe organ.
- No electric organ is available for the audition, but students may arrange to bring their own OR undertake their audition on a small pipe organ at the Conservatorium.
Percussion is taught at the Conservatorium of Music as a combination of drumming and mallet (i.e., tuned) percussion techniques.
- Students intending to audition for percussion must have skills in both drumming and mallet percussion. They will need to choose audition pieces that show both of these skills.
- Students who have only drum kit experience are advised not to audition. The school does not teach the Music 1 syllabus.
- Classical guitar is taught at the Conservatorium of Music. Jazz guitar is taught only to students when they have classical guitar skills.
- Students who have only electric guitar experience or only simple strumming skills are advised not to audition.
Choral Majors (formerly known as the Junior Vocal Stream)
The Choral Major option is designed for students entering Years 7 & 8 whose primary or preferred medium of musical expression is voice. Students designated Choral Majors [i.e., choristers] receive expert vocal coaching, choral training and associated performance opportunities. Their classroom music is taught by Hungarian-trained, Kodály music specialists.
The Choral Major option is restricted to the junior school [Years 7 & 8] in recognition of the physiological changes that take place in the teenage voice during the middle years of high school.
In preparation for this period of change, choristers must apply themselves diligently to their chosen instrument (preferably an orchestral instrument) in order that they reach a standard commensurate with that of Year 9 instrumental students.
Students accepted as Choral Majors may also be offered the opportunity to become members of Gondwana Choirs / Sydney Children’s Choir. Those who wish to be considered for membership should be aware that they will be required to attend a placement test with Gondwana Choirs.
Vocal study during Years 9 & 10
The school adopts a conservative position regarding vocal training for teenagers during the period of physiological change. Voice cannot be taken as the Major Study during these years. It can be taken, however, as a Minor Study.
Voice Major in Senior School
Students entering Year 11, who believe they possess a voice of exceptional maturity for their age, may audition with a view to being designated a Voice Major. Successful applicants will be the exception. They pursue Voice as their Major Study and, accordingly, individual lessons are undertaken with a member of staff of the School of Music, University of Sydney, as part of the agreement between the Conservatorium High School and the University’s Open Academy.
The workshop involves a variety of activities designed to elicit information about applicants’ innate musical abilities in the areas of rhythm, pitch, melody, aural perceptiveness and listening acuity. The results assist the school in evaluating applicants’ capacity to respond to musical stimuli. No preparation is expected for this component of the application procedure.
The application form is available here
Year 7 Applicants
In addition to filling out the Application Form students who are applying for Year 7 entry to the Conservatorium High will need to have sat the NSW Selective High School Placement Test in the previous year, i.e., Year 6. This test, specifically designed for children in their final year of primary school, is conducted in various centres around the State each year. Most children are registered by their parents for this test at the end of Year 5 through their local primary school. The Application Package for Year 7 Entry to Selective High Schools is available from NSW public schools and regional school education offices. Once the application has been processed, parents are advised of the location of the test centre for their child by the Department of Education.
Year 8 Applicants
Applicants for Year 8 entry who sat the NSW Selective High School Placement Test in Year 6 of primary school should be sure to provide this information as requested on the school’s Application Form. In so doing they are authorising the school to request the relevant test score data from the Department of Education and Communities. These data remain valid for only two years; they constitute an essential component of the application process.
Years 9-11 Applicants and Years 7-8 Applicants Who Did Not Sit the NSW Selective High School Placement Test
Applicants for Years 9-11 and applicants for Years 7 & 8 who did not sit the NSW Selective High School Placement Test are required to present the results of a WISC-V test. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (5th ed., 2016) is administered by school counsellors, private testing companies and educational psychologists.
Parents should ensure that the results – numerically expressed – of their child’s WISC-V test are made available to the school for inclusion with other application materials well before the end of the relevant audition period. Applications that are missing these data, i.e., Selective School test result or WISC-V, will be deemed to be incomplete and not considered by the Placement Panel in the current round.