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Organ Trials Process for 2023

Ear Tests

  • dictation of a melody
  • dictation of a four-part chorale (the soprano part will be given throughout)
  • recognition and correction of mistakes of pitch and rhythm in a score heard three times

Download specimen aural tests.

Organ playing audition

A page turner will be provided.

  • prepared piece: applicants are required to play one of the following trio movements (please note that the third and fourth trios listed are new options):
    • J S Bach Trio No. 1 in E flat major - BWV 525 (first movement only)
    • J S Bach Trio No. 4 in E minor - BWV 528 (first movement only)
    • J S Bach Trio on Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend - BWV 655
    • J S Bach Trio on Nun komm der Heiden heiland - BWV 660
  • sight-reading: on three staves, some simple registration changes may be required
  • transposition: hymn-like passage on two staves, up or down a tone or semitone, use of pedals is required
  • four-part score-reading: without the use of pedals.

Download specimen keyboard tests.

College organ playing auditions

All candidates will be required to attend a further audition with the Director of Music of their preference College during the course of the Organ Trials. Candidates may also receive further such invitations from Directors of Music at any other College(s) named on their preference list.

These auditions will involve the following:

  • Second piece: all applicants must prepare and bring a second, contrasting piece, which they may be asked to play at College and further auditions. The piece must be of a grade 8 standard or above, and should be of a contrasting mood/tempo to the Trio Sonata
  • All applicants will be asked to play a hymn
  • Some Colleges may also ask you to improvise, and/or to harmonise a melody or to play a psalm.

Some candidates may also be invited to meet (online) with the Chaplain or Dean of any College(s) named on their preference list.

Conducting audition

Applicants will be required to conduct a six-minute choir practice. Music will be distributed at a meeting for all applicants at the beginning of the trials. It will be a short, unaccompanied anthem, and applicants can expect the choir to know the notes. The choir will be a friendly and informally constituted ensemble of current choral scholars and organ scholars. A keyboard or piano will be provided for giving starting notes to the choir.

Academic interviews

All academic interviews will be conducted during the Organ Trials process at times to be advised by candidates' preference College. Wherever possible, these will take place on Thursday 21 September. Full details will be provided in mid-September.

Harmony test (only candidates applying to study Music)

Harmonisation of a Bach chorale (the soprano part given throughout) without the aid of a keyboard. Candidates will be given 60 minutes to complete this test.

Other at-interview assessments

Candidates applying to read the following subjects will be required to sit an at-interview written assessment during the organ trials process:

  • Archaeology, Architecture, English, History and Modern Languages, History of Art, Linguistics, Modern and Medieval Languages, Philosophy
  • Applicants for Maths, History, History and Politics, HSPS and PBS may be asked to do so, if specified by the preference College. Further information on these assessments can be found on our admissions assessments pages.

Pre-registration required assessments

Candidates applying to read the following subjects will be required to sit the same assessment as all other applicants to the University.

  • Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Natural Sciences, Veterinary Medicine

Candidates will need to be registered by their schools and registration deadlines may be in advance of the UCAS deadline. Further information can be found on our admissions assessments pages.

N.B. As these pre-registration-required assessments take place after the interviews held during the Organ Trials process, candidates who are successful at the Organ Trials in these subjects (both musically and academically) will be required to achieve a particular level in the pre-interview assessment as part of their conditional academic offer. Candidates for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will need to perform competitively within the gathered field in the BMAT (Medicine) and NSAA (Vet) if they are to be offered the academic place in January on which their Organ Scholarship depends.

Organ Scholarships film


Mr Andrew Arthur
Organ Scholarships Co-ordinator
Director of Music
Trinity Hall
Cambridge CB2 1TJ
T 01223 332549