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Audition pieces?

NabianNabian Posts: 253Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2011 in Music Major
Hey music forum,

I play clarinet and piano, and while I don't think I'll be majoring music, I might minor in it (or I suppose double majoring is also a possibility.) Can you guys tell me what you think of my audition pieces (if they're difficult/impressive enough, etc)?

One of the programs I'd be working with focuses mainly on very classical stuff so I was thinking this:
-Praeludium und Fughetta in G-dur (Bach, BWV 902 [NOT 902a!])
-Piano Sonata No. 7 - Mvmt. I - Presto (Beethoven, Op. 10 No. 3)

Pretty much everywhere else I'm applying doesn't care, so I was thinking this:
-One of those previous two (or both?)
-La Cathedrale Engloutie (Debussy)

I would really appreciate if someone/some people could listen to these and tell me what they think about using them for a college audition, and possibly suggest some others. (If need be, I am probably most open to changing the sonata movement but the others can change too.)

Lastly, I sincerely apologize if this is not really a function of the Music Major forum, I just thought I'd try. :\

P.S.:I wasn't really thinking of auditioning on clarinet. I mean, I'm principal chair at my school, drum major, concertmaster, working on 4-yr all-stater, etc, so I guess I should, but I really haven't been working on anything. Rising senior btw.
Post edited by Nabian on

Replies to: Audition pieces?

  • iluvpianoiluvpiano Posts: 1,982Registered User Senior Member
    If you do major in piano, I can maybe help clear some of this up for you. I am going to be a piano performance major in the fall and did auditions this past year.

    You need to get a list of schools together and look at audition requirements, especially if you choose to major in it. Auditions usually run November through March.

    Typically, piano majors (if you're going for piano performance; if piano as a music ed major, then the auditions are less difficult and generally fewer requriements) need a baroque piece (some specifically require a Bach prelude and fugue; others say any baroque piece is fine), a classical sonata movement (a few actually require an entire sonata) by Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven, a romantic piece, a 20th century and/or impressionism piece, and some additionally require an etude from any historical era.

    Can you tell me what schools you're considering please?
  • NabianNabian Posts: 253Registered User Junior Member
    The two I've set this up over are Franciscan University of Steubenville and University of Notre Dame. FUS's music program is actually sacred music, so it focuses on the classical repertoire. They only require a Bach prelude+fugue and a movement from a classical piano sonata. Notre Dame's requirements simply ask for between 10 and 20 minutes of performance from a variety of styles, periods, and tempos.

    I'm also looking at SLU and Loyola Chicago, but less seriously, and haven't checked their requirements.
  • violindadviolindad Posts: 921Registered User Member
    Your private teacher is in the best position to recommend repertoire that is suitable for you. If you aren't 100% confident in your private teacher's recommendations, then I would advise arranging for a lesson with one or two of the piano faculty members at the schools to which you are applying. (Even if you are 100% confident in your own teacher's recommendations, the trial lesson is invaluable: you get additional feedback and instruction on your rep, you meet potential teachers and get to assess your fit with them, you develop a comfort with the physical place in which you will audition . . .).

    You ask about the difficulty and impressiveness of your proposed repertoire. Repertoire can be difficult, but it is never impressive--what can be impressive is a masterful and moving performance of almost any repertoire. In any case, it is exceedingly rare for any college audition to be impressive to the auditioning panel--they regularly hear much better performances from their senior college students and graduate students.

    Normally when a Bach Prelude and Fugue are specified for audition requirements, the intention is one of the 48 from the Well-Tempered Clavier. I would email someone at FUS to check if the BWV 902 is okay--it probably is if they didn't specify that the the P&F had to be WTC. Your BWV 902 is somewhat more elementary than most of the WTC, so that is another reason to beware.

    Your Beethoven movement should be fine--it is an appropriate level of difficulty for a college piano major audition.

    The Debussy is probably fine for the schools that you are auditioning for. If you were auditioning for schools a level or two higher, then I would recommend something more substantial.

    Of course, as you know, ultimately the audition is about how well you play the repertoire, not about the repertoire itself, as long as your rep allows you to demonstrate your skills and musicianship adequately. I think that the three pieces you mention contrast well and provide the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of a range of skills and styles.

    When students ask about the suitability of their rep on this forum, I always worry that they do not have a private teacher whose opinion they trust (and have often found that indeed they do not one). If that is your situation, then you really need to get to the best possible piano teacher than you can find; if you are to be a music major, the audition will be very important not only in determining whether or not you get accepted to the schools you want, but also as to the size of any merit money you may get.
  • iluvpianoiluvpiano Posts: 1,982Registered User Senior Member
    When I started looking at audition repertoire, I was with my previous piano teacher and was lost as to what to do for auditions. I was left to pick out my own music. Then I switched teachers and that changed everything, because she knew a lot more about auditions. If you're doubtful as to whether your current teacher will be helpful and prepare you well for auditions, then I would look into changing teachers. I had a teacher previously who basically just taught high school level but had never sent anybody into college auditions, so I switched to a teacher who is a college professor at a local university. If you can find a local college prof who is willing to teach a high school student for auditions, that would be a good option most likely. Since you're going into senior year this fall, you would really need to get going on that very soon to find and adjust to a new teacher and prepare for auditions.

    Also, when I was back in sophomore year trying to pick audition pieces on my own (as I explained above about my former teacher), I posted stuff like this too on CC about pieces and got replies like the one you got here from violindad about how we can't tell you what to pick and how you can't just pick things that sound impressive. I didn't understand it then either, but I do more now. So I'd say I'd agree with his post a lot, especially the comment about how it's not just the repertoire you pick but how you play it. Picking something difficult and impressive that you can't play well doesn't sound impressive to college professors listening to you. Don't pick something easy, that's not what I'm saying. Pick hard pieces that you CAN play WELL, not super difficult ones that you can barely play. Example- one of my pieces for auditions was Chopin's Revolutionary Etude Op.10 No.12, which is difficult, but not the most impossible piece. I received several remarks about that this year and auditions and competitions, apparently that was my best one of all my pieces, the teacher that I will now be studying with in college this fall said how the Chopin piece was very impressive, as well as other people. That's what will impress them- hard enough pieces that are played well and within your range of ability; not the hardest pieces out there that you can barely get through.

    Make sure you check those requirements for the other 2 universities you mentioned. I'm not familiar with the music programs at any of those schools.

    Also, it's awesome you play clarinet- I play that too!! It's my minor instrument as a piano performance major, and I'll be taking lessons on clarinet and playing it in an ensemble. I actually just bought a different clarinet last Saturday because my college highly recommended getting a professional level clarinet for college (even for non-majors), and all I had was my student-line clarinet I used in HS.
  • NabianNabian Posts: 253Registered User Junior Member
    Thank you both for your extremely thorough replies. I definitely understand what you're saying about choosing pieces, impressing, etc. "Impress" was probably bad word choice on my part; I'm definitely not the kind of person who just seeks to please. I'm definitely going to choose pieces I enjoy, I was just wondering if those pieces were at the level appropriate for college work (and I know understand that the prelude&fugue probably isn't.) I want to reiterate that I'm almost sure that I won't end up as a music major and that I'm definitely not putting music down as my primary desired area of study.

    Anyway, I supposed this is more directed towards violindad, but you're both certainly welcome to answer: is pretty much all of WTC I & II fair game? Only WTC I? Only certain preludes & fugues? I know none of this is official or whatever but I'd just like a general idea. From the way people talk it seems like WTC's pretty much the preferred (and solitary?) standard.

    Again, thank you both for all your insight.
  • iluvpianoiluvpiano Posts: 1,982Registered User Senior Member
    From what I've seen, pretty much all of the WTC I and II is fine. Some colleges will not allow the C major and C minor preludes/fugues from WTC I because they're easy. So don't pick those ones to be safe, or any other one that's super easy. If colleges have any requirements, they tend to say to pick one that has 3 or more voices, so I'd go with one of those that's 3 or 4 voices. I did a 3-voice prelude/fugue set- WTC I G Major. Yes, WTC is the standard if colleges want a prelude/fugue set, or even if they just want any baroque piece and don't specify anything else.
  • violindadviolindad Posts: 921Registered User Member
    Yes, I'd agree with iluvpiano that the C major and Cminor from WTC I are the easiest of the 48 (and both are played so much that committees probably cringe when they see them on lists). Until you have studied at least two or three of the P&F, I would probably avoid the extended four-voice fugues; one really needs to get a feel for fugues in order to play them musically and the extended ones are very difficult to memorize.
  • iluvpianoiluvpiano Posts: 1,982Registered User Senior Member
    ^Yep, I've heard too that those preludes/fugues are extremely overplayed and they don't want to hear them for college auditions.

    Going with a 3-voice fugue is fine if you don't want to do 4. Colleges don't really expect 4 voice, especially if you're not majoring in piano. I, as a piano major, did a 3-voice fugue. It was one of the longer ones (4 pages, where several choices are only 2 pages), but still just 3 voices.

    Fugues are difficult to memorize if you haven't done them already, just to let you know, and this is coming from me, someone who memorizes almost all piano pieces very quickly and easily, and they typically stay in my memory for a long time without practicing them. In June here, I played some of my audition pieces again that I hadn't played or practiced since March, and could remember it all (5 pieces including a concerto for a competition, 49 pages of music). Fugues are hard!
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