2023-24 Musician Handbook: Seating Policies & Part Assignments


“Seating” is a term to describe where a musician sits within their orchestra section, and the process to decide seating varies by each GTCYS orchestra and instrument. Seating is not simply a ranking of musicians’ playing ability but can incorporate many factors including weekly musical preparation, leadership skills, behavior, attendance, and experience in different parts of each section.

String sections in Concertino West and East, Camerata, Concert Orchestra, Philharmonic, and Symphony perform seating auditions at least once a semester. These auditions are not a competition but allow students to develop important musical skills such as accountability, attention to detail, focused practice, ability to meet musical deadlines, and performing solo in front of others. GTCYS seating auditions are learning opportunities for students and provide them with experience and written feedback from musical professionals.

For seating audition dates, students are asked to prepare sections of their current GTCYS music in advance then perform for professional musicians live during a selected rehearsal. If students are unavoidably absent, they have the option to record a video at home and submit it for the seating adjudicator to review. Each orchestra conductor uses the results of seating auditions to help determine seating orders for string sections, but conductors have the final decision and reserve the right to change seating at any time during the season for any reason.

Every musician in an orchestra contributes in valuable ways regardless of where they are seated. It is important to remember that an orchestra is a collective of musicians (rather than soloists) who each play a part in the greater whole and overall musical success of the ensemble.

Philharmonia East & West, and Sinfonia East & West

No seating auditions in these levels

  • At the beginning of the season, seating and part assignments will be determined by the conductor based on students’ GTCYS placement audition.
  • Seating may be adjusted throughout the year based on students’ progress and repertoire requirements. Violinists may switch between first and second parts during the year and wind instrument part assignments may change. Factors such as behavior and attendance may be taken into consideration.

Concertino East & West, Camerata, Concert Orchestra, Philharmonic, and Symphony


  • At the beginning of the season, string players will be seated according to their GTCYS placement audition scores.
  • Conductors will announce selected musical excerpts to prepare at least two weeks before seating audition dates, then each student will perform their excerpts for a seating audition judge on the scheduled date.
  • Seating audition judges will listen to each student and provide written feedback to be handed out at the following rehearsal. The conductor will use the judges’ assessments to determine specific seating; other factors including student behavior and attendance may be taken into consideration.
  • Students should make every effort to attend scheduled seating auditions in person. If a student is unavoidably absent, they have a chance to record and submit a video using online forms that GTCYS will provide.
    • Planned absences: students should record and submit their video the day before scheduled seating auditions and will receive full written feedback on their audition from the audition judges.
    • Unexpected absences: students can submit a video within 24 hours of their normal rehearsal but will not receive any written feedback.
  • Students who do not send a recording on time and in the correct format will not have the opportunity to be assessed again until the next audition. They should contact their conductor directly if they are unable to submit a video for any reason.
  • Each conductor reserves the right to make changes to video submission policies for their orchestra.

Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion:

  • Initial seating and part assignments will be determined by the conductor based on students’ GTCYS audition.
  • Seating and part assignments may be adjusted by the conductor throughout the year based on students’ progress and repertoire requirements.
  • Students playing woodwind instruments may be assigned auxiliary woodwind parts including piccolo, English horn, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, and contrabassoon. GTCYS will provide these instruments at no charge for students to use during the season.
  • Woodwind, brass, and percussion seating auditions may be scheduled throughout the season at the conductor’s discretion.

Serving Community.
Supported by Community.

Explore stories from students, staff, families, donors, and alumni. Learn about our programs and community impact.

Learn More
Skip to content