Young musicians learn advanced musical skills through private instruction, ensemble training and music history and theory studies.

Guided by professional, practicing musicians, the Music Department offers pre-professional training in the following areas:

Brass | Harp | Percussion | Piano | Strings | Voice | Woodwinds

The Residential High School program includes orchestral training, advanced vocal studies and opera workshop, chamber music experience, instrument-specific seminars and master classes, and courses in music theory and music history. All music students sing in the Governor’s School Choir.


As part of the intensive curriculum, students represent the school through performances in the Governor's School Choir and one or more of the following large groups each semester: Cantus Chamber Choir, Concertato String Orchestra, Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.


Music students also have the opportunity to compete in regional and national competitions and have been recognized by organizations such as the American String Teachers Association, Carolina Youth Symphony, Music Teachers National Association, S.C. Band Directors Association, and YoungArts.

When to Apply By Grade

Music students apply in the 10th grade to attend in the 11th and 12th grades. Advanced students can apply in the 9th grade through the Instrumental Early Audition (IEA) program. Learn more about the application requirements and the audition process below.


  • Students playing wind instruments
  • Close-up of percussion player
  • Student playing string instrument

Our musicians have continued their studies at institutions such as...


The online application is now available!

All Residential High School applicants must–

  • Satisfy requirements for legal residency in South Carolina 
  • Have a 2.5 cumulative grade point average or higher 
  • Possess a high level of commitment, motivation, and maturity 

If you already have an account from a previous year, then you can login using the same login credentials. If this is your first time applying, then you’ll need to create an account in our online application system. The application has several different components, and you don’t have to complete it in one sitting. Once you create an account, you can pick up where you left off at any time.

Candidates may apply for up to two art areas, but may attend in only one. 

Apply Now

Here’s what you’ll need to complete the online application.

ID Photo

Upload a passport-style photo of yourself from the shoulders up. This will be used as your student ID photo if you are accepted.

Teacher Recommendations

Complete a short online form within the application that will allow us request grades and attendance and send the appropriate recommendation forms to your teachers while you continue to work on your application. You’ll need names and email addresses for:

  • Student Record Form (usually completed by guidance counselor)
  • Arts Teacher Recommendation
  • Academic Teacher Recommendation
  • Homeschool Recommendation (if applicable)
Music Experience

List any music classes and specialized training (including lessons) you have had. Please include any summer programs or master classes/workshops you have attended.

Music Teachers

List names and contact information for up to three music teachers, current and former, both private instructors and school music teachers. Knowing who has taught you gives us more information about your music background.

These may or may not be the same teachers you use for the music recommendation.

Technique Books & Repertoire

List any scale books, etudes, etc. that you may have used in class or in lessons, and list solo repertoire and any significant ensemble repertoire you have studied.

Personal Essay

Write 500-800 words (Times New Roman, 12-point font, double-spaced) on one of the following topics:

  • Describe one of your most meaningful experiences and how it has shaped you as a musician.
  • Discuss a positive experience in your life that has helped you become the young adult you are today. How do you hope to build upon this experience as you enter adulthood?
  • Discuss a challenging experience in your life that has fundamentally shaped you into the young adult you are today. How do you hope to move forward from this experience as you enter adulthood?
Upload in Word or PDF format. Do not upload using the PAGES app.
Parent/Guardian Contact Information

General contact information for the individuals who have legal guardianship.

Once you have submitted the application, you can login to your account at any time to view the application checklist. Audition locations fill up quickly, so please submit your completed application as early as possible.

When all required application materials are received, you will receive an email confirming your audition. The Admissions Office will notify you if information is missing from your application. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.


The Residential High School Music Audition

All Residential High School Music auditions will include an audition, a demonstration of musicianship, and an interview.

Demonstration of Musicianship

  • After hearing a music pattern clapped once, clap the pattern.
  • After hearing a pitch played once at the piano, sing that pitch.
  • After hearing a chord played once at the piano, sing that chord’s highest or lowest pitch.
  • After hearing a short melodic pattern played once at the piano, sing the pattern.

The Vocal Audition

All vocalists perform their solos with a piano accompanist that is provided by the Governor's School. Vocalists should bring a copy of the piano accompaniment for the two solos to the audition (a photo copy is permissible). MP3 tracks, karaoke tracks, and outside accompanists are not allowed.

Vocal Audition Process
  • Students audition in small groups of no more than six students.
  • Students take turns singing their two solos in front of the audition group. Students may or may not be allowed to sing your entire solo. It may be a time issue or that the adjudicators have heard all they need to hear to make a decision (which can be a good thing!), so do not read too much into this.
  • After the solos, the group will wait outside the audition room.
  • Students will be called back in the room, one at a time, for sight singing, the demonstration of musicianship, and the interview.
  • The interview will not be long or formal. Be prepared to speak about past experiences, future goals, and knowledge of musical styles and performances, and ask any questions you may have.
Vocal Audition Requirements

Solos:  Select two songs from standard vocal literature which show the character and quality of your voice. Use the suggestions below to help select your solos. Students should be prepared to sing both selections from memory with piano accompaniment.

  • A selection appropriate for younger singers from the 24 Italian Songs and Arias book or a traditional art song in English or another language
  • Folk songs, spirituals, sacred songs or hymns, ballads, selections from musical theater, or jazz standards

Sight Reading:  Sight-sing a simple melody

The Instrumental Audition

During the audition, instrumentalists will perform the audition requirements, the demonstration of musicianship, and a brief interview. Keep in mind, the interview tends to be informal in nature, and may feel more like a conversation than an interview.

All instrumental solos are performed without piano accompaniment. Select your instrument to view the specific audition requirements.

Brass (Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba) 
  • Solos:  Select two pieces / movements in contrasting styles for your instrument. Solo work(s) from the standard repertoire are suggested such as the All-State etude/solo and pieces that would be performed at the high school level for solo and ensemble festival. 
  • Scales: Chromatic scale and all twelve major scales in range that is appropriate for your instrument 
  • Sight Reading
Concert Harp
  • Solos: Select two pieces of contrasting style from the standard harp literature. 
  • Sight Reading
Percussion (Snare, Mallets, Timpani)
  • Solos: Perform a solo piece for each of the three percussion areas (snare, mallets, timpani).
  • Rudiments: Prepare to play basic rudiments required for Clinic All-State Band in addition to your solo piece.
  • Sight Reading

Students may bring their own snare drum, or SCGSAH will provide one.


Solos: Select two pieces in contrasting styles, preferably memorized. Examples of ideal audition pieces are: 

  • An Invention or Prelude and Fugue by J. S. Bach
  • A sonata or sonatina movement by a Classical composer such as Clementi, Haydn, or Mozart
  • A character piece by a Romantic composer such as Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, or Grieg
  • Any modern composition

Scales: All 24 keys, three or four octaves, hands together.

Sight Reading

Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass) 
  • Solos: Select two pieces of contrasting style for the instrument (for example, one etude and one movement from a suite, sonata, or concerto).
  • Scales: Major and minor scales; three octaves.
  • Sight Reading
Woodwinds (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon)
  • Solos: Select two pieces / movements in contrasting styles for your instrument. Solo work(s) from the standard repertoire are suggested such as the All-State etude/solo and pieces that would be performed at the high school level for solo and ensemble festival. 
  • Scales:  Chromatic scale and all twelve major scales in range that is appropriate for your instrument.
  • Sight Reading

Important Dates

Application Deadlines 

  • November 30, 2019 - Deadline for application fee waiver.

  • January 8, 2020 - Final application deadline. 

Teacher recommendations must also be submitted by the above deadlines in order for your application to be considered complete.

Audition Dates

  • Saturday, February 1, 2020 - Midlands - Columbia College
  • Saturday, February 8, 2020 - Lowcountry - College of Charleston
  • Saturday, February 22, 2020 - Upstate - SCGSAH 

Admission Decision Notification

Applicants will be notified of decisions via email by April 1. Decisions will not be given over the phone.



Application Fee: $50 for all applications submitted after November 30. For those in need of financial assistance, the Application Fee Waiver on the Submission Confirmation page of the application can be submitted instead of this fee.

Tuition: Free 

Residence Hall Fee: $150, non-refundable residence hall fee

Meal Plan: $3,450 annual food services fee paid directly to Aramark Food Services. Payment plans are available.

Financial aid is available for residents of South Carolina with validated financial need.

Fees and Financial Aid