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Standardizing college theatre / musical theatre auditions

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Replies to: Standardizing college theatre / musical theatre auditions

  • sbcsbc 232 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @VoiceTeacher
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
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  • MReaderMReader 69 replies1 threads Junior Member
    It's good to hear that the schools are aware of the issue, @VoiceTeacher and I thank you for speaking up. I agree that it would be hard to get everyone together on one audition standard, but maybe promote a more standard audition packet with colleges requesting at auditions from among those options:

    MT programs:
    Four 16 bar cuts (or 45 seconds max): 1 contemporary, 1 classic MT, 1 lyrical MT or art song, 1 pop/rock (with possible option to self-accompany on guitar/piano) along with two one-minute monologues: 1 dramatic, 1 comedic
    For theatre BFA consideration add:
    1 Shakespeare monologue, one minute
    For vocal BM considerations add:
    1 32 bar art song in foreign language (I'm kind of guessing here)

    Reading this, it seems really obvious. And yet, it still took my D, me, and the particulars of her college choices - many of which were updated or released in the summer - to figure out what she needed to have prepared. Among her ten colleges were variations about: specifically a "Golden Age" song, 32 bar cuts instead of 16 - though you may be cut off, post-1990 contemporary, two one-minute monologues done back-to-back in exactly 2 timed minutes, one Shakespeare monologue and please no Shakespeare. And these are just a few from her spreadsheet notes. Many of the schools had other specifics on their websites.

    It's true that the MT business will involve lots of auditions and lots of specifics, but for college auditions the stakes are higher and the rule-following audition process is often getting outsourced to audition coaches or helpful, bewildered parents. It seems some standardization would draw the focus from managing audition process and direct it to finding the right fit of school and student for the benefit of all.
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  • VoiceTeacherVoiceTeacher 307 replies25 threads Member
    @MReader I like what you propose for MT and think that may be viable. I will keep this in mind as the conversations continue. Thank you! ~ VT
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  • EmsDadEmsDad 1507 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    Why can't MT programs be like VP programs and designate a couple of readily available song cut books from which to choose songs, such as The Singer's Musical Theatre Anthology – “16-Bar” Audition which is available in every voice part and includes 100+ songs in every book?

    I have heard college faculty bemoan the growth of college audition coaching, but they themselves are one of the primary drivers for this phenomenon with all the different requirements for song cuts including 16 bars, 32 bars, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, and the dreaded, arbitrary and capricious "overdone" and "do not use" lists. If they would relax these demands and use an approach like that used in VP, I think fewer parents would be driven to hire an audition coach.

    Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.
    edited April 2017
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  • Ducky312Ducky312 295 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I wonder what the percentage of kids who are coached is compared to those who are not? My child was asked by a top school if she was coached. She was not. As stressful as the process is I think every student's audition journey is as unique as each program. Plus every professional audition is just as different. I'm not a fan of standardization.
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  • actorparentactorparent 259 replies4 threads Junior Member
    The one thing I would really like to standardize is length of monologue. If they could all just agree on one minute or two minutes, that would be awesome!
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  • EmsDadEmsDad 1507 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    @Ducky312 - I would estimate the percentage of applicants with coaches on the order of 15-20%. This is based on an applicant pool of around 3,000 and something like 450 or so students with coaches.

    The estimate for coached students is based on 150-200 for MTCA, 100-120 for Mary Anna Dennard, 50-60 for College Audition Coach and maybe another 100-150 with other coaches around the country (Dave Clemmons et. al.).

    The estimate for the size of the audition pool is based on these posts:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/19228858#Comment_19228858

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/17289152#Comment_17289152

    On an individual school basis, the percentage of students with coaches auditioning is probably higher for the more popular MT programs and lower for the more regional programs.
    edited April 2017
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  • toowonderfultoowonderful 4077 replies68 threads Senior Member
    D preferred (then and now) to have different pieces for different length requirements- that way she wouldn't get confused. A little more time spent memorizing/polishing- but she likes it. Btw- the time thing is NOT going away after BFA auditions- D spent a good amount of time on it for summer stock things this year- the 2 different "unifieds" she attended had different (VERY strict) requirements.
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  • Notmath1Notmath1 569 replies36 threads Member
    Wow @EmsDad. Amazing. You bring up some good points.... and stats!
    Question: what is the difference between Mary Anna Dennard and College Audition Coach? Not a big deal but just want to understand your numbers .
    And note:The original article posted was about standardizing auditions requirements . It had not to do with coaching? Or did I miss something??
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  • EmsDadEmsDad 1507 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    @Notmath1 - sorry, I was referring to "My College Audition Coach" (Chelsea Diehl) when I said "College Audition Coach" (which is the name of Mary Anna's web page). I think the growth in coaching is due in no small part to the complexity of the requirements involved in the process (post # 25), and @Ducky312 asked in post #26 what is the percentage of kids that are coached, hence, my comments in post #28.
    edited April 2017
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  • EmsDadEmsDad 1507 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    @toowonderful - I think that the many different song length (and monologue length) requirements is much more of a problem for college auditions than professional auditions - for college, many/most students have to deal with on the order of 12-14 (or more) differing requirements (which can actually vary within a single school because of different requirements for prescreens vs. actual auditions). At college Unifieds, you may have to do several auditions within a few hours, potentially having to remember to shift the version of your song(s) (and maybe monologues) for each audition. My d messed up one audition at Unifieds because she confused the 32 bar version with the 16 bar version of one of her songs.

    For summer stock auditions, at least the ones that my d has done, you just do your material one time for all theatres en mass, and then you have up to a month or more between auditions to shift gears and get ready for the next one (of course, you may get asked to do something else at callbacks, but that is very easy to prepare for). Also, by the time you are competing for summer stock, you probably have done at least one entire semester of repertoire preparation along with audition training at college targeted at just those sorts of auditions. I know my d has a lot more material now ready to go for many types of auditions than she did in high school, not to mention lots of great training and advice on how to handle professional auditions, including many mock audition sessions (even her semester juries are run as mock auditions). She did not seem to bat an eye while doing OTA's, MWTA's, on-campus ss auditions, etc. this year.

    I personally don't think comparing professional auditions with college auditions is valid due to the difference in age, training, and experience between the two environments. For most students, its apples and oranges. There is a huge difference in my d between now and high school.
    edited April 2017
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  • toowonderfultoowonderful 4077 replies68 threads Senior Member
    @EmsDad - I am not comparing college and summer stock auditions other than to say that the need to meet specific requirements, which vary from one set of auditions to the next, isn't going away.
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  • collegemom2000collegemom2000 286 replies13 threads Junior Member
    My daughter is finishing up junior year and we are in the beginning of learning about the audition process for college MT programs. Between my daughter's vocal coach (former Julliard student and Peabody Professor) and friends who used Dennard and did not like her at all, I am not convinced that a coach is necessary. These coaching organizations seem like puppy mills to me, churning out cookie-cutter students. I don't see how mentoring someone via Skype could possibly be effective. I would think that anyone who has been doing MT for as many years as most kids have, would have resources in their own community to reach out to (ie, vocal teachers, school theatre teachers, etc.) I'm open-minded, but I'm having trouble seeing this whole coaching phenomenon as anything other than a money-making scheme.
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  • stagedoormamastagedoormama 814 replies9 threads Member
    edited April 2017
    We didn't use a coach and wish we had. The process has changed so much, even in the past 5 years, that most people (even former students and professors) don't realize how different the process is now if they haven't been involved in it personally. We didn't need coaching for material, but having a coach who knows most of the programs thoroughly would have been immensely helpful in getting us to make a good list for my D's particular strengths and would have been able to guide us on which schools to include and which ones not to bother with. That would have saved us a TON of money, (talking thousands of dollars) and worth the minimal expenditure of hiring a coach. JMHO.
    edited April 2017
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  • IfYouOnlyKnewIfYouOnlyKnew 404 replies1 threads Member
    @collegemom2000 I hope your D has a great audition season using your decided on family approach. There is no right or wrong way. I did not have a coach, my S is delighted with his results, and I wish I did have a coach. This is just one of many stories you will find here. I hope you will share your story through her season so others can benefit from your approach.
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  • bisouubisouu 2408 replies145 threads Senior Member
    I wish we had used a coach if for no other reason to help us formulate a good list of schools to audition for. We were sorely uninformed. Also, monologues were hard to choose and my daughter could have used some guidance in that area. These coaches are clearly doing something right since so many of these kids get into at least one program.
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  • collegemom2000collegemom2000 286 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Thanks! I have a decent list already (I think) for her and I have a fairly good grasp on the process. We are targeting some of the smaller schools here on the east coast as well as a few of the bigger reach schools. My daughter is at a disadvantage (Caucasian female), but is strong academically and has a lot of training in theatre and voice (high level choir since 4th grade, private vocal coach for four years, All State, etc., leads in the school musicals, summer theatre camps, summer conservatory training, etc.) We can use her vocal teacher as a coach for the music, she is wonderful. My daughter is not a dancer, however, so that will be the hardest part and I'm not sure how to even approach that via a Skype session. I do think she needs help finding monologues but I am not sure I'd trust a stranger with that task; so many others who have worked with her over the years know her strengths already. Nontheless, I'd be willing to pay for that service, but it seems most of the coaching sites make you commit to more than just that.

    FWIW, our friends son is one of the most talented young men I have ever seen, and he did not get into a single MT program last year...he used Dennard as his coach. :-( His mom said she just did not guide him well and she didn't seem very good at recognizing his strengths. This year he used someone more local and got into 7 schools.

    Any advice from either side (coach, no coach) is greatly appreciated as we embark on this new adventure!
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  • bisouubisouu 2408 replies145 threads Senior Member
    Sometimes a year of maturity is all it takes and knowing what the process is all about. Many kids take a gap year and do this process again and have HUGE success.
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