Online Application Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does From the Top select performers?
A: Each show features about five different performances. Putting together each show is difficult – it’s like a puzzle for us, and we have many criteria to consider aside from simple musical ability. These criteria include gender, age, instrumentation, repertoire, eligibility for our need-based $10,000 scholarship program, and diversity of stories.

Q: What if I don’t have access to a personal computer/I can’t upload my audition recording to your online application?
A: If you are unable to use our online application, you may apply via mail. Contact and request a paper application.

Q: Do I need to complete the entire application in one sitting, or can I save my work and come back later?
A: You can save your work and come back at any point. Just be sure to write down your Application Tracking ID and Secret Code (it will also be emailed to you) so you can log in later. Applications in progress are saved up to the last page you have finished. Make sure you have completed all required fields on the page you're working on and click the "Save & Continue" button at the bottom of the page before closing the application.

Q: I uploaded my audition recording, but it says the recording is "still in conversion" or "in conversion queue". Is it safe to submit my application?
A: Yes, you can submit your application even if your recording is still in conversion. It can take several hours (sometimes even longer for large video files) for a recording to finish converting. If your recording is still in conversion or in the queue for longer than 24 hours, please email

Q: What style music does From the Top feature?
A: From the Top's primary focus is to present music from the western classical tradition. However, we occasionally present music from other non-pop genres including folk music, world music, spirituals, and acoustic or piano jazz.
We’re particularly open to music that combines the western classical tradition with other non-classical forms and performers who can perform both classical music and other genres at a very high level. Contact if you have a question about your genre of music.

Q: When are From the Top programs produced?
A: Live tapings (18–20 per season) take place throughout the year at venues across the country.

Q: Can I reapply if I have already appeared on From the Top?
A: If you have appeared on From the Top as a soloist, you must either wait two years before reapplying or apply as a member of an ensemble. If you have appeared with an ensemble, your ensemble must wait two years before reapplying or you can reapply as a soloist or member of a different ensemble.

Q: What should I include on my audition recording?

A: Audition recordings must include a minimum of two selections, though students are encouraged to include additional repertoire. Pieces can be of any length for audition purposes, but we prefer selections under 5 minutes for soloists or 6 minutes for ensembles. Works of longer duration that are selected for the show will be subject to cuts. You may attach a list of additional repertoire. Any piece selected for performance must first be heard by From the Top.

Q: Is it okay if my audition repertoire is longer than the preferred length (3-5 minutes for composers/soloists; 6 minutes for ensembles)?

A: Yes, but if you are selected for the show, your performance must fit within our time limitations. That can mean making additional cuts to your existing piece or selecting an alternative movement or work. From the Top is a sixty-minute program that features more than just individual performances. Each show also includes interviews, games, and other special segments. There is a lot to fit in an hour!

Q: Do you prefer any particular types of repertoire?
A: We prefer to avoid concerto repertoire. Other than this, we have no restrictions or preferences. We hope you'll choose repertoire that shows you off in the best way possible. 

Q: Do I need an accompanist?
A: From the Top features both accompanied and unaccompanied repertoire. If the music you choose for your audition recording calls for piano accompaniment, we prefer but do not require that you submit an accompanied recording. If you are selected for a show and your repertoire requires accompaniment, you will be accompanied by the host of From the Top, pianist Christopher O’Riley.

Q: How polished does my audition have to be?
A: If you think it’s a good representation of how well you currently play, then you’re ready to audition.

Q: What level of audio quality is required for the audition recording?
A: Of course, we need to be able to hear you, and the more clearly we can hear you, the better. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend money booking studio time. A recording made at home is fine.

Q: When are deadlines for submitting application and audition material?
A: There are no specific application deadlines. This means that we select performers for all tapings on a rolling admission basis. However, seniors are encouraged to apply as early as possible – at the latest by March 1. We will still review your application if you submit it later, but given our rolling admissions system and limited slots, your chances of being selected for an appearance on From the Top are greater the earlier you apply. If you wish to apply for the scholarship, the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award DOES have deadlines. Please visit our scholarship page to learn more.

Q: You’re coming to my hometown! Can I apply specifically to that show?
A: If you wish to apply to a particular taping, you must submit an application three months before that taping. We do take show preference into consideration, but kids are considered for all shows when they apply regardless of preference. We regularly fly performers from their homes to perform on our programs around the country. For information on our upcoming live tapings, visit our Event Calendar.

Q: When will I hear if I’ve been selected?
A: Because performers on From the Top are cast on a rolling admissions basis, it can take as many as three months before you will be notified.

Q: If selected, what expenses are provided by From the Top?

  • Air, train, or bus transportation (2 tickets for soloists and a maximum of 4 round-trip tickets for small ensembles) is provided for performers and chaperones* who live more than 4 hours away from the venue. If driving is an option and that distance is more than 4 hours, From the Top will contribute to those ground transportation costs.
  • Lodging is provided for the performer(s) and one chaperone. For small ensembles, members may be asked to share rooms.
  • Large ensembles are typically selected for tapings in their home area to avoid travel costs.
  • Ground transportation at the venue location (i.e. transportation to and from airport, public transportation, etc.), food, and other sundry expenses are the responsibility of the performer.

*Each soloist/ensemble must be accompanied by one adult chaperone.

Q: If selected, when will my program air?
A: Our shows are taped in front of a live audience. Each show is edited down from the 1.5-hour live taping and aired at a later date. You can find out when a particular show will air by contacting your local station. You can also listen to shows by subscribing to our podcast.

Q: If my local public radio station doesn’t carry From the Top, is there anything I can do?
A: Yes! You, your family and your friends can write, phone, or email the station’s program director and encourage the station to carry From the Top. But don’t forget that From the Top’s broadcasts are also available online.

Q: How do I learn more about and possibly apply for the $10,000 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award?
A: Visit our Scholarship page. If you decide you’re eligible and you want to apply for the Award, you must only fill out the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award application and no other From the Top application.

All applicants to the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award are automatically considered for an appearance on the radio program. Even if you are not selected for the Young Artist Award, you may be selected to appear on the show as a performer. Solo instrumentalists and vocalists, composers, and members of small ensembles all may apply for the Award.