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Advice for first-ever college audition

imamigerimamiger Registered User Posts: 46 Junior Member
edited November 2009 in Music Major
D will be doing her very first college audition out-of-state on a competitive woodwind instrument in about 10 days. Other than the obvious preparation needed to play the audition pieces, I was wondering what other things to be prepared for--something she might not expect or know about since we have never been through this before (and don't know anyone else who has done it either). She will dress appropriately (black regular length dress with sleeves), but what else other than the playing do we need to do, worry about or prepare for? This audition is at a large state public university with good music education program, but not a super-competitive conservatory or anything like that.
Post edited by imamiger on
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Replies to: Advice for first-ever college audition

  • sagitersagiter Registered User Posts: 358 Member
    Bring along her musical resume (or at least the dates, etc) and a music repertoire list in case there is additional paperwork that has to be filled out. Try to keep her as relaxed as you can and try to let her call the shots. Bring water. Carry with YOU what you might be able to anticipate she might ask for through the day. Tell her she'll do great and be supportive throughout the whole process.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    One other point, and that is not to read too much into what the people on the panel may ask or do. From talking to students doing auditions at a wide variety of places, and my son's own experience with his pre college auditions, you can expect the unexpected in auditions. Auditioners have been known to talk during auditions, and might make facial expressions that seem sour, but usually it has nothing to do with the audition, it could be someone suggesting what to have for lunch or dinner. Likewise, there despite popular myth is no set guideline that, for example, a short audition is better/worse then a long one. My son's teacher prepared him for that, and from I have heard from others at all levels, your D may see all kinds of things that seem weird in the audition, but more then likely have little or nothing to do with her.
  • raddadraddad Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
    If your travel schedule allows, try to go to a music performance at the school the night before or after the audition to get a sense of what it is like to be in a music environment at the school. If you do, it provides an opprotunity to see the performance facilities in action, meet some kids around the snack stand and get a feel for the university. We found that to be very helpful.
  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- Registered User Posts: 6,350 Senior Member
    I couldn't agree with Raddad more. One of the best ways to get a feel for the university/conservatory is not at the actual audition, but around the campus and environs. Eat where the students eat, talk to people, go to a concert, ensemble rehearsal, etc. This was my favorite part of every audition.

    In terms of what to be prepared for: sometimes the entire department (every member) is there to listen to auditions, and sometimes there will be only two or three members. I am not sure that means anything.

    Sometimes students will be asked to play nearly their entire repertoire, and sometimes they will be cut off very early into a number of pieces. I'd suggest that all students be prepared to play everything to completion; although it rarely happens, my son had one audition where he did have to do this (and it was a very long repertoire too!). The hopes that adjudicators will stop a student "just before the hardest section or phrase" doesn't always pan out, so better to be prepared to play in entirety, just in case.

    Also, I think the adjudicators are looking to see that the student has stamina and flexibility, so it is good to have played through the entire repertoire many times, preferably for an audience, prior to the audition, and not to get flustered if they ask to start in odd junctures in a piece.
  • SJTHSJTH Registered User Posts: 1,892 Senior Member
    One of the best things we heard--from Peabody, our first stop last year--was not to be alarmed by the seemingly short length of auditions. The speaker asked the audience to describe walking past a practice room and hearing someone playing their same instrument. He asked the audience then how long it takes them to determine the person inside's level of play. The answer was "About 30 seconds." He said that adjudicators do know what they're looking and listening for, and that a short audition--or a long one--doesn't necessarily mean anything. That did make us feel better about short audition timeframes, or my son being cut off in the middle of a song.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 71,742 Senior Member
    Get a GOOD night's sleep the night before, be well rested. Eat a good breakfast that morning. Have a water bottle with her. Make sure she has made a photo copy of her music and has it in a safe place in case her purchased copy somehow gets damaged. Wear COMFORTABLE shoes.

    As nerve wracking as it is...try to have fun.
  • BeezMomBeezMom Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    Wow - thank you for the info about being cut short. Knowing that in advance will stop the panic effect!
  • crazypianist1116crazypianist1116 Registered User Posts: 299 Junior Member
    Oh dear, my acceptance into music schools depends on only 30 seconds of music? Time to get nervous... (joking)
  • stradmomstradmom Registered User Posts: 4,859 Senior Member
    Question for anyone: D has her audition program memorized. Should she still bring music into the room with her?

    Answer for OP: Based on our vast experience (one whole audition at a school D is pretty sure she'll be admitted to!), bananas really do help with nervousness. D discovered that she's a "two banana girl".
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,551 Forum Champion
    YES! Always take the music with you. D may offer it to the panel or just place the folder in an out of the way location, such as on a chair near the door. At least, that's what's done with voice. D was quite glad to have taken EXTRA music with her, because at one audition, the panel asked if the had anything of a certain tempo in her book which she did. She gave it to the accompanist and got to sing yet another piece. Not really sure what they were looking for, but they must have heard it because they accepted her!!
    Girls, take extra pantihose along (THAT morning will be the time you pop a run!), guys, please make sure that your socks match (I've seen some odd combinations on guys who got dressed very early!). Do scope out the practice rooms and get there at least 30 minutes before the entire session begins. Trust me, this is one time you do not want to be late and be the ones trying to walk into the hall without being noticed! Get your seats, sit back and listen to the presentation the administration has prepared for you. Pay attention when they break, because instructions may be different for undergrad, grads, transfers, etc. If you think you might be in the wrong place, please, speak up and ask. On audition day at a major conservatory, D was placed in a room with all of the grad students and thus, heard the wrong presentation, which she realized after it began and she was across the room from the door! It wasn't a big thing, thankfully, but it does prove that errors do arise. While you are waiting outside your audition room, you may be one of several students. You can talk softly, but follow the lead of the student guide who is handling the clipboard for the room. Don't drift off and make them have to find you, even if it's just down the hall.
    Bad weather is to be expected in many areas during the winter. Allow plenty of time. Tuck a sweater into your bag because some of the large Halls can be drafty and waiting areas cold. You may be wearing heels for your audition,ladies, but if there is a foot of snow outside, wear you boots to the school (see next paragraph).
    Parents, be prepared to be a Sherpa porter, or enlist the services of a donkty .You may be draped with and held responsible for coats, snow boots, and various items of clothing, instrument cases and music bags (during those ear training and theory placement tests). Find a comfortable spot and read. You daughter/son will need to find you and they tend to get a bit high-strung if they have to run around and hunt for you.
    Whew..... Oh, by the way, Good Luck and Have Fun!
  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Registered User Posts: 4,060 Senior Member
    Yes - have fun. It's hard to believe when you are in the middle of all of this, but it was a very special time - that time we spent together during auditions. I would not trade it for anything. We developed our own little rituals and a greater bond. I also developed a much better understanding of her chosen life.
  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- Registered User Posts: 6,350 Senior Member
    I've said that same thing so many times before---about the audition period being a very special bonding time for parent/child. I loved it and look back on it very fondly, even though the period waiting for pre-screen results, and the results of auditions, was very stressful. The one-on-one time in the car, in hotel rooms, restaurants,hearing your child's impressions, thoughts, etc., was absolutely priceless, and most of us will never get that much concentrated time with our kids, certainly not at that stage of their lives, again. So enjoy it too!

    Oh, and pianists? Bring gloves to keep your fingers warm between warm-up and audition time. I agree about a lot of cold spaces, and cold hands are really detrimental during an audition!
  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Registered User Posts: 4,060 Senior Member
    -Allmusic- so funny about the pianists. When we were in the audition areas we could the pianists because they had wool socks on their hands if they did not have heavy gloves. So definitely a good reminder. DD also always traveled with scarf, hat and gloves to keep voice warm. Hands count for your whole body. If you are cold everything tenses up.
  • fiddlestixfiddlestix Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    Stradmom,

    My advice on bringing music into the room for a string instrument is different from MM's singers' experience.

    If the music is required to be memorized - and it generally is for strings - I would not bring the music into the room. Your D is already carrying an instrument and bow and there probably won't be a music stand or any place to easily set the music. It would be very, very unusual for the panel to ask to see a score - believe me, unless she is playing an unpublished work - which I would NOT recommend and which sometimes is explicitly disallowed - the faculty will know her repertoire. Most often at the bigger places, students are asked to get their instruments out and ready outside the room and won't have to deal with cases either.

    With one of my kids in the past, we watched a student come out of an audition at a university shaking his head -"They didn't even a music stand!" Kid had brought a whole stack of full scores and books into the room and ended up putting it on the floor - no piano, no stand, etc. Shouldn't really have been a problem - go with the flow - but clearly this kid was very rattled. So, whatever she does, be prepared for several different set of scenarios!

    Sometimes string players are asked for an etude or sonata without memory requirement. If so - obviously bring it along! Don't remember if she's violin or viola, just a suggestion - if doing a Paganini - play from memory. At the more select schools, faculty is not likely to listen to an etude of lesser difficulty than a Paganini (Rode, Fiorillo, etc.), but be prepared for it anyway!
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