Hi! I was wondering how good you should be in order to submit a music supplement that will help your application. I am a pianist and although I am dedicated to it (2+ hours a day) I do not feel as if I am Juilliard-worthy. I did attend Brevard Music Center and I believe that I was above average or close to average but in the top half. For those who do not know what it is, Brevard supposedly only accepts 18% of applicants so that can help you picture its selectivity but personally I do not think that it is that prestigious among music camps/festivals. I think the playing level is higher than that of Interlochen but much lower than that of Tanglewood, Aspen, etc...I have won some state competitions, but the majority of the competitions are poorly judged. Basically I feel like I am in that grey zone between prodigy and mediocre...can anybody give me advice? Thanks!
Location: South of the Mason-Dixon line, north of Cuba
yes you should send in a music supplement. you sound like you overestimate the importance of competition and ranking in music. I would say based on the little you have told that you clearly take piano performance seriously, are an accomplished and able pianist and could have much to contribute to campus musical life (even if you won't be the #1 ranked pianist on campus during your 4 years). If you see yourself that way (as someone interested in spending a fair amount of time doing stuff related to music over the next 4 years) then that aspect of you should be reflected in your application, and part of that should be a music supplement showing what you have already accomplished in music.
OP, try hard not to run yourself down in your application materials. You've attended Brevard, which is a selective summer program, and you've won statewide piano competitions. This suggests to me that you should submit a supplement.
I think having on your application that you've attended Brevard and won statewide competitions will look good as it is. I've heard Yale to be very fickle about music supplements in the sense that if it's not extraordinary it can actually hurt you. Sometimes it can be a good idea to add a little mystery to your profile--let them wonder whether you're the next Beethoven or Bach.
I don't know if this is true, but it seems to me that the only way a supplement would hurt is if the supplement was actually mediocre/bad or if the applicant played beginner or intermediate level music. It seems to me that talented applicants who submit solid supplements of advanced music can't necessarily be hurt, but they wouldn't be given a boost either. The supplement would just give more credibility to the years of practice. It seems odd that Yale or any other ivy would put very talented musicians in a bad light because they aren't the most extraordinary musicians that ever existed (even though just about any other institution would be thrilled to have them on their campus). Correct me if I'm wrong.
I'm no expert and I don't have a lot of information, so it might be worth perusing other forums or something. Nonetheless I have heard this said on numerous occasions (even on CC I think?). I did spend time talking to a Stanford admissions officer about how the arts supplement process works, and they said they send the supplement to a music faculty member who essentially just grades it from a 1 to 5 on a bell curve. A low number is viewed in low light, and remember that the pool you're competing against is constituted of some of the most talented musicians in the country and the world. Most schools use a similar process, although it's possible they might ignore it or not let it hurt the app or something. But if someone sends in a '1' supplement, why shouldn't it hurt? It reflects poorly on not only the skills, but also the decision-making and humility of the applicant. A quick trip to Yale's website gives the following: "There are cases in which too many submissions, or submissions that do not reflect a high level of talent, can actually work against a candidate." I don't really know what that means or more importantly how high that level of talent needs to be, but it's something that's worth noting.
Jazzed, what you're saying makes sense. What I think a lot of us who are submitting supplements are curious about is where a solidly advanced musician who may not be julliard level yet is still quite talented would stand on that scale of 1-5.
But it's nonsense to think that a person who won state piano competitions and was chosen to go to Brevard for piano performance would get a "1" on a well-prepared supplement. I would agree that if you are, say, first chair violin in your high school orchestra that is not necessarily enough to think you should submit a supplement. But having been successful in competitions and selective summer programs is the sort of thing that suggests a supplement is in order. Another thing to do, of course, is to ask your private teacher, if you have one, or perhaps another local teacher to evaluate you.
Wow I didn't not think that I would receive this much input, thanks guys! The thing is that I live in Florida so overall the level of playing is not very high. My private teacher was okay with it, but I'm not sure if she understands the level of expectations. I would not be surprised if Yale is very harsh with music supplements since it has a great music school (Sean Chen is a student there and won 3rd place in Van Cliburn, first American to get to the finals since 1997). I'm just curious if anybody who has contributed knows about Brevard.
The music school has nothing to do with undergrad admissions. Entirely different set of professors, and no performance major in undergrad. My son went to Brevard one summer while he was a music major at Yale (in composition), and he thought the level of playing was quite high.
When you send a music supplement to Yale they forward it to one of their music faculty, who may or may not be involved with Yale's music school (I'm not sure). Just to clarify, I'm not dissuading OP from sending a supplement, I'm just pointing out that it's something to be taken with a grain of salt. I'd recommend you talk with people who know not only your level of talent but also a little something regarding the process/caliber of music supplements to elite schools.
I see...Thanks for the clarifications. I have another question, do you think it would be acceptable to submit a concerto if I do send a music supplement? If so, should it be okay without accompaniment? I live in a very small town and right now we're struggling to find an adequate accompanist. The reason why I want to submit the concerto though is because I think that, hands down, I play the best when I'm playing that piece. I haven't tried contacting Yale yet but I emailed the Columbia admission office and they were not...very helpful to say the least and just referred me back to the music supplement website...