Skip to main content

When students are first learning their instruments, they most likely are not thinking about the documents they will need when they audition for summer programs, competitions, jobs, and colleges. However, starting a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) early on, as well as keeping a running list of repertoire, is absolutely vital. Virtually every program will request one or both documents in some form or other.

The earlier you start creating these documents, and the better you are about keeping them updated, the easier your life will be when you need to submit applications quickly and rapidly. There is nothing like finding out on the day an application is due that you need to also submit a resume or repertoire list. Having an updated set of information will make your life so much easier.

What is a Resume or CV?

A CV, which stands for the Latin term Curriculum Vitae, is basically a long, categorized list of everything important you have done in your life. You can think of a musical CV as a very comprehensive musical resume. While few student or educational programs will ever ask for your complete CV, they may request a specifically categorized resume of one to four pages that includes information from your CV.

Through the years, we have found that different programs request very different sets of information. As a result, we have found the best way to keep all that information available is to create an ongoing CV. The info within the CV can then be excerpted into a short resume as needed. It is common to be asked, for example, for a one-page performance resume, or a two-page general resume. You will need to customize each resume for the occasion, but that is not usually too hard if you already have all the information organized in your CV.

What Information Should be in Your CV?

The information included in your CV should include the following:

Basic Information

Personal information, such as name, address, phone number, email

What instrument you play primarily

An education section

  • The academic school you currently attend and when you started
  • The academic schools you previously attended, the years you attended, and the earned degree listed, if applicable (high school should be included, middle/elementary school is only included for younger students, and absolutely no preschool!)
  • The music school or program you currently attend and when you started
  • The music schools or programs you attended in the past and the years you attended, with degrees, if any, listed
  • CMPI can be listed here, including the date you started, or in the Fellowship section below


  • Your current teacher(s) and when you started
  • Your previous teachers and the dates you studied with them
  • Optional: a list of short-term teachers you studied with (such as at summer programs) and the dates you studied with them

Fellowships, scholarships, and awards

  • CMPI can be listed here, including when you entered the program
  • Other musical fellowships and scholarships, with dates
  • Optional: non-musical fellowships and scholarships, with dates
  • Optional: some programs ask for dollar amounts, so you may want to note the amount of each one per year

Competition prizes

  • List the competitions that you won awards or placed in, with dates
  • Optional: if you won a monetary prize, you may want to note that down as well since some programs may ask for dollar amounts

Festivals, summer programs, and institutes/workshops

  • List festivals you have participated in with dates
  • List any summer programs you participated in with dates


Solo performances with orchestra – list the name of the orchestra, the date, and the piece (optional)

Recitals and other important performances

  • List the type of event, location, and date
  • Only list important chamber music concerts
  • Orchestra concerts are not usually listed unless you were the soloist

Broadcasts and media performances – list times you have played on radio or television shows with dates and the name of the program

Masterclasses and guest coachings – list the name of the masterclass teacher and date

Large ensembles

  • List all current ensembles you play in and the date you started
  • List past ensembles you have played with in the past with their dates
  • If you had a named position (principal, concertmaster), include that
  • Include short-term honors ensembles like Region, All-State, District, or National Pathways

Chamber music and small ensembles

  • List chamber music groups you currently play in, including name, type, and when you started
  • List previous chamber groups you played in, with names and dates

Optional Information

Optional: Other musical instruction

  • List of other instruments you have studied with teachers and dates
  • List of chamber coaches with dates
  • List of theory classes with teacher names and dates
  • Any other musical instruction in composition, conducting, etc. can be added here

Optional: Work experience

  • List paid performances or positions with dates
  • Optional: list non-musical work experience with dates

Optional: Service performances and volunteer work

  • List service performances you have given with dates
  • List other relevant volunteer work with dates that you have completed

Other Optional categories

  • Internships
  • Teaching and coaching experience
  • Projects
  • Affiliations or professional organizations you belong to
  • Recordings
  • Publications
  • Special skills
  • Languages

As you continue your studies through college, you will likely add more of the additional optional sections listed at the end.

How to Make Your CV

Your CV should look like a resume, but with lots more information. Start with a centered header including your name, contact information, and instrument. Then create sections like what was listed in the previous section. Use bold or a larger font for headers to easily separate sections. If you are listing a lot of things out, you may want to use bullet points to differentiate them. Bullet points can also be used to provide more detailed explanations of specific information, though this is generally not needed for students.

It is typical to put the information on the left and the dates on the right. Try to line things up and be consistent with spacing, fonts, font sizes, and headers. The usual practice is to list the most recent items first, followed by everything else in reverse chronological order.

For lots of sample resumes, CVs, and templates, you can see this resource from the Eastman School of Music. Note that these documents are designed for college students and professionals, so some of the information may not apply to younger students.

How Much Information Should be in Your CV?

Initially, you will likely include every single performance, competition award, ensemble, and school in your CV. As you mature, however, you may decide not to include everything. For example, if you played one piece on a school recital every month, that might not be worth including. Sometimes, you can categorize performances together as well, so the aforementioned example could become just one entry with a span of dates listed. Obviously, you cannot list every single solo performance, orchestra concert, or chamber music concert for your entire life! Make sure the important ones are included, though.

What is a Repertoire List?

Programs often request a list of the pieces that you have played in the past as part of your resume or in addition to it. Some ask for everything you have played, while others may ask just for pieces from the past few years. Once again, it is useful to have a list of almost everything that you can edit to include the relevant pieces from whatever categories or dates are requested.

We have found that the best way to make a repertoire list is to use an online spreadsheet such as Google Sheets. This method allows you to create separate sheets for solo and chamber music, add categories, and sort by categories, date, or composer. Using an online version will allow you to quickly share the spreadsheet with your teacher or anyone else you choose.

Rep List template

What Should You Include on Your Repertoire List?

At first, you will likely include every major piece that you have played. Obviously, you don’t need to go all the way back to Twinkle Variations, but you should include any “real” pieces you played that are beyond simple pedagogical pieces.

These are categories you may want to use:

  • Solo works
    • Concertos
    • Concert pieces
    • Virtuosic or showpieces
    • Sonatas
    • Other pieces with piano
    • Unaccompanied pieces
    • Etudes, caprices, and exercises
  • Chamber music
    • Quartets
    • Trios
    • Duos
    • Other instrumentations relevant to your instrument
  • Orchestral solos/excerpts

While it is not typical to list every single orchestral piece you have played, you may want to include ones that have important solos for your instrument or are particularly important excerpts. If you are learning orchestral excerpts, you can record those in this section as well. Providing a list of orchestral repertoire or excerpts is more common for wind and brass players.

Organizing Your Repertoire List

There are several different ways you can potentially organize your list. Typically, we have found having two to three large sheets or pages, for solo repertoire, chamber music repertoire, and orchestral repertoire, to be the most helpful. Within each sheet, list the composer (last name first so it can be sorted easily), the name of the piece, the type of piece (such as concerto or etude), the movements you played, and the date (year) you played it. While programs don’t usually need to know when you played something, including the date can help when a program requests repertoire from a specific time period. You may also want to include an extra column for comments, where you can include more specific information, such as if it is in progress or you learned it but never performed it.

You can view a sample template for a repertoire list here. To save it and make it your own, select “Make a Copy” under the File menu.

Start Early and Update Often!

It is never too early to create a CV, resume, and repertoire list. More importantly, however, you need to keep these documents updated. Aim to spend a few minutes updating them monthly if possible. It is very easy to forget performances or pieces you have played if you wait a long time between updates. You will be very thankful you have everything all set and ready to go when it comes time to apply for programs, competitions, and auditions.


Repertoire database

Would you like to make a gift to support CMPI?

Donate today