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Junior year advice?

toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
Have been lurking on this board for awhile and have learned so much about the whole MT college process! Just wondering if anyone has advice on what D should be doing her junior year to be ready for next year's application/audition cycle? From reading other posts, seems we may already be a bit behind?

D has been doing community children's theater since 4th grade and HS shows last couple of years, but dropped dance and voice lessons after middle school to make time for other interests (primarily HS volleyball). She did a wonderful MT summer intensive in Aug. that made her feel she does have some promise talent-wise and has restarted voice lessons with someone she met through that program. Unfortunately, she doesn't have time for dance right now, as she made varsity v-ball, which she loves and is a big part of her HS life. She is working this year to get her GPA up, after struggling academically her freshman year (when she was eventually diagnosed with some learning issues), so academics won't be her strong suit in her applications.

We visited Ithaca this summer while we were in the area, and she loved the program, but we were a bit intimidated by the other students on the tour, with their Equity cards and stage credits, and by the numbers mentioned by the theater dept person leading the tour (1200 prescreens this year, with 800 invited to audition, leading to 60 offers and a final class of 16!). My college-professor husband just about fell out of his chair!

Other than the voice lessons, are there other things D should be doing to help her get ready for this crazy MT college application process? Thanks!
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Replies to: Junior year advice?

  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Thanks so much, vvnstar! All very helpful! D has restarted voice lessons again now, and we're hoping that will help with song choices for auditions. She did have to do a video prescreen for her summer intensive, so that was a good experience in terms of prepping 2 songs and a monologue (though video quality needs work!). Great advice about reading plays--will definitely mention that. For now, we thought we'd see if the voice teacher can act as a coach?

    We've been talking about types of schools and for now, D says she's looking for more of a "college experience" rather than a conservatory. She also wants to stay in the New England/NY area if possible. Philadelphia/eastern PA may be a possibility too? We're definitely planning to do more school visits in the spring.

    Right now she's thinking about Emerson, Hartt, Marymount Manhattan and Wagner, plus possibly Rider, Pace, Plymouth State (NH) and/or UNH. From reading on this board, it seems like we need to add more schools to this list?

    Your point about families being on the same page is well taken. I think for now that D is sold on the idea of a BFA program, but my husband (college science prof) is concerned that approach may be too limited and would like her to look at some BA programs that have a theater/MT major.

    Unfortunately, dance is off the table for the school year, as she has no time. But maybe we can look into finding some classes next summer? Is that too late? She did have ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop through middle school and moves well and picks up choreography quickly, but we don't want her to be at a disadvantage. Thanks!

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  • loribelleloribelle 388 replies9 threads Member
    You’ve already got some good advice here. My advice is to Put dance back on the table if she wants to be serious about auditions. Maybe she can get a private dance coach and pick a time that works for her on weekends. Yes, it’s more expensive, but the personal attention usually means you need less time per week to advance...one hour twice a week would do wonders...I recommend ballet and jazz. Females need a competitive edge.
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  • carriemc95carriemc95 170 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Dance. Dance. Dance.
    We had to find someone willing to do private lessons because of a hectic schedule, and while it wasn't ideal, it has helped tremendously.
    Also, your child might be different, but my daughter wanted to actually visit and see schools. We planned her spring break around a big college visit trip, and it was hugely beneficial. Start having her work on her list. Even if she can just have a large list to whittle down.
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  • beachymombeachymom 239 replies44 threads Junior Member
    I recently weighed in on this same topic in a different group. My son, now a BFA MT college freshman <we made it through woohooooo!> was definitely behind the curve. We found a coach in May of his junior year, and he worked with her on selecting monologues and songs over the summer, as well as crafting a balanced school list. This was very helpful for us.
    In retrospect, here is a list of other things that would have been beneficial:
    1. Yoga and Pilates, which are much easier to access schedule-wise than dance lessons
    2. Ballet, if time and schedule permits
    3. Identify plays that will be playing in your area. Read the scripts, and then go see the shows.
    4. Basic piano skills
    5. SAT and ACT prep
    6. Create list of local scholarship opportunities
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  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, beachymom--your additional list is great! Going to local plays seems like something D would be interested in doing and can fit around her busy schedule. She has never taken piano, but did play clarinet for a number of years and has tinkered around with a keyboard whenever she gets the chance--would love for her to build on those skills. SAT prep is definitely on the list--yet another item to fit in the schedule!

    loribelle and carriemc95--appreciate the advice about dance being SO critical. This is the one issue I've been concerned about. D used to dance at a local school that was fairly flexible about class schedules, but they still usually required a full year commitment and participation in recitals. A private coach is a great idea, though convincing hubby it's necessary may be the tricky part...

    Other than dance, would doing additional shows outside of her HS be helpful? She's pretty set on doing the spring HS show, because it's fun and with her friends, but I don't know if she wouldn't be better off building credits elsewhere? She's had leads in community children's theater but has aged out of that company now. She did do a show with her summer intensive program in Aug., but am wondering if she should focus on getting more exposure to other companies and directors?
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  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Also, wondering if our current list of schools is reasonable for a female strong singer/actor with weaker dance background and lower GPA? As mentioned, we were thinking of the following in New England/NY area:

    Marymount Manhattan
    Plymouth State

    Might possibly add:

    UArts (though not the "college experience" D wants)
    Western Conn. State
    Montclair State

    That's 12 schools, so not sure if we should be looking at a few others to round out her list? My husband teaches at Boston U., but I don't think D will get in there academically, and they only have a concentration in MT, but she will probably apply anyway. Am assuming Northeastern will also be out grade-wise, and she says she's not interested in Berklee/BoCo, as she doesn't want a conservatory program.

    Any other suggestions welcome!

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  • JaneyMJaneyM 31 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Now is the time to start focusing on summer plans. There are a lot of programs for rising seniors that give a taste of what it would be like to be in a BFA MT program and to get some good training and insight into what skills the programs are looking for. Depending on timing and family budget, your daughter may be able to do an MT program and a dance program. Think about what you really want/need this summer. If you need a program that will enable your daughter to have her pre-screen auditions coached and filmed by the end of the summer, consider ArtsBridge, or Broadway Artists Alliance in NYC. If you have access to private audition coaching and don't need to have your pre-screens filmed as part of a program, consider University of Michigan's MPulse program, or Penn State's summer MT program. Many summer programs require in person or video auditions taking place now! I suggest making summer planning your first priority.
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  • toowonderfultoowonderful 4077 replies68 threads Senior Member
    @toystorymom - If there are quality youth theaters in your area I think that it can be of value to work with multiple types of directors etc. And if they can get a chance to experience a national group - whether via a college summer program or national camp experience (TPAP, Interlochen etc) so much the better. I have known a number of students over the years whose only theater experience was school shows, who had trouble adjusting the wider pools of talent, different styles of directing etc in college -as well as the rigor og STUDYING theater rather than just doing shows.

    We had a lovely young man who graduated from my HS last year who wanted to pursue BFA. As a talented male, he had been cast in a major role in every school production he had auditioned for from 7th grade forward (we have a MS and HS musical in our district, as well as fall play) BUT - he never did anything anywhere else. He got a spot in a brand new BFA Acting program close to home, and was super excited. But, he is struggling - because it is VERY different from the "let's get a gang of kids together and put on a show" mentality that is typical of most HS programs.
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  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    These are all great suggestions--thanks, janeyM and toowonderful! D did a summer intensive in Aug. that included students aged 16- 24, so she was one of the youngest among a group that included college BFA students and very talented HS performing arts kids. Working with the show director there was one of the highlights for her, which is why I'm now thinking that going back to the HS show, which is directed by a dedicated but not that experienced math teacher (lol), may not be helping her that much with her goals...

    Unfortunately, we're not in a position to consider summer programs outside of our area, but good to know about these so we can see what other places offer in terms of curriculum and opportunities. I do think toowonderful's comment about "studying" theater as opposed to "doing shows" really hits home for us now that D got some exposure to other approaches over the summer.

    We'll definitely look into having her at least audition for some other local companies--which could be a good experience in itself. D is not exactly a big fish in a small pond--in the sense that she isn't one of those kids who's gotten every part they ever wanted--but it can't hurt for her to try out a bigger pond and see how she fares. She got some lovely feedback from the director and her mentors over the summer, but more exposure can only be a good thing!
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  • artskidsartskids 1528 replies22 threads Senior Member
    My D (D3) is a freshman and she is already planning to push herself out to a larger casting pool in the summer. Toughen her hid a little :)) Junior year is a GREAT year for training and skills polishing! If you are planning a summer program, now is the time to start researching. Some require prescreens and full application and some are due around January 1. Second semester is also the perfect time to determine if you will use a coach.
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  • loribelleloribelle 388 replies9 threads Member
    You may want to look at Molloy/CAP 21
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  • lithpoollithpool 414 replies14 threads Member
    @toystorymom I would definitely add in Western CT (BFA in MT), and perhaps look at Mahattanville College in Purchase NY, I think it's a BFA MT too. I'm not sure about the following from an academic perspective, but others to take a look at in the area are LIU-Post, Five Towns College, Ithaca, Syracuse, and Temple.
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  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Thanks all for the additional thoughts about summer programs--looks like we need to look into those soon! My D may decide to go back to the program she did this past summer for another year, but it can't hurt to look around...

    lithpool-thanks for the additional school suggestions. Some of these, such as LIU-Post, Manhattanville, and Five Towns, weren't on our radar. Ithaca is definitely on the list (and is the only school we've visited so far), but we may take a look at Temple as well, particularly if we visit UArts.

    I think Syracuse may be out of reach for her academically? I was putting Syracuse in the same group with schools like NYU that I thought would be unlikely to admit lower GPAs? Any input there would be appreciated!
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  • JaneyMJaneyM 31 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @toystorymom If it is a budgeting issue that prevents you from looking at summer programs outside your area, take a look at the LIU-Post summer scholars MT program. It is only one week, but fully funded (free) for all who are accepted.
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  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    That's helpful, JaneyM--will do! Part of the issue is budget/travel and part is timing, as D has a summer job she would like to continue with next year as a counselor at a kids theater camp near us. She made good money doing that this past summer and also had the opportunity to design sets for the main show, write skits for weekly parent performances, and perform in a counselor cabaret. That takes up a good portion of her summer, but a one-week program like LIU-Post might fit into her schedule and isn't TOO far from home. Thanks for the suggestion!
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 1908 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Hi @toystorymom, just adding two cents here and I'm not an expert, just trying to be helpful. :-) you are mentioning that your daughter has a lot of other interests like volleyball, designing sets and writing skits. You might want to think seriously about her doing a BA in theater as opposed to a BFA. I am not trying to discourage you at all, just making sure you know that the BFA programs are really all in engrossing, the students study dance, voice , speech, acting... The list goes on and it's a long one. They don't have time for much else. If your daughter wants a traditional college experience wants to be able to write.. maybe still wants to be able to play volleyball... She'll have a much better chance of doing all that in college if she's not in a BFA program. It really is a choice you have to make fairly early in the process if she's going to try for BFA because the application process is intensive, where as the BA applications are the same as a normal College app which is way easier.
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  • toystorymomtoystorymom 41 replies2 threads Junior Member
    So nice to get such thoughtful responses!

    CoachC--will definitely check in with D's voice teacher about these issues. Her teacher is NE Conservatory-trained, so I'm hoping she knows what she is doing! One question, though (from a non-singer's perspective)--if my D is an alto, can she still sing "legit" style? I feel like I tend to hear about legit sopranos, but not altos? Just curious!

    CaMom13--really appreciate your insights on this issue. It's certainly something we're looking at as we're starting to think about schools for D to put on her list. She says she wants to do a BFA but also wants more of a "college environment" as opposed to a conservatory experience. We have yet to sort out how much of the traditional college piece of things she really wants. She has decided she won't play volleyball in college, as she's small and really just in it for the fun of it. As for her other interests, I think she really wants to spend her time singing, dancing and acting but wouldn't mind being able to learn about behind-the-scenes aspects of theater too. I'm thinking she might mean that she wants to be on a campus that has sports and other things going on, but doesn't necessarily think she wants to participate in those things? Definitely something we'll continue to discuss!
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  • MTSongbirdMomMTSongbirdMom 162 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @toystorymom I don't know if you have done this already, but you might want to print out some curricula for programs she's interested in (or just programs in general) for comparison. I originally printed out a bunch with school names removed (I put a letter in the corner and had a key). I included a variety of curriculum types. My D was able to look without the bias of a big name or a school she was in love with. But this definitely helped her realize things that were very important to her including required core classes, flexibility. Even within BFAs or within BAs there can be varying numbers of required hours and different foci (something for everyone).

    Also, my D's schedule is crazy too (I think most MTers are that way) and we were able to find a ballet studio that has drop in "adult" classes. No commitment. She goes when she is free and pays at the door.. They are even broadly levelled. You might see if there's a studio that has a similar option. Just a thought for incorporating dance into a busy schedule.

    Break a Leg during your journey!
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