<p>Since there has been a lot of talk on different threads about taking “practice lessons” with instrumental teachers before applying to conservatories, I thought I’d start a new thread to share experiences and put the information in one place.
Some conversation starters from DD’s experience:</p>
<li><p>Arranging the lessons: DD arranged the lessons mostly by email correspondence with the teachers, although some involved follow-up phone calls. We planned our visits to the campuses around the availability of the teachers. In two cases, her high school instrumental teacher contacted the teachers first, since they had been her teachers for undergrad and grad school, so DD benefitted from a nice pre-contact note that introduced her as a “very promising student that I think you will enjoy meeting”. Some suggestions about which teacher to contact came from the high school teacher, others from summer music camp teacher / conductors, and others were just from the faculty lists on the conservatory website.</p></li>
<li><p>cost/time: teachers charged between $0 and $125 for the trial lessons, which lasted between 20 minutes and 1 hour or a little more. I gather from other posters that the cost could be higher.</p></li>
<li><p>Feedback: Our experience was that the feedback was helpful and honest. One teacher that DD played for in the spring of junior year effectively discouraged her from applying, suggesting that she just send a tape (“there’s no need to come back in person, since you’ve already seen the campus”). This was a clear indication that she wasn’t really ready, and after a very intense summer experience (advanced intrumental study in several succesive programs and a lot of practicing) she had much more positive feedback from the teachers she played for in the fall. Postitive feedback generally means that there is some chance of being admitted, but it is usually not a guarantee unless the teacher actually offers you a spot. </p></li>
<p>One teacher who raved about her playing in the practice lesson (“You are just the kind of student we are looking for at X and your playing is beautiful”) did not remember her during the actual audition. However, we never felt that this was a case of deception, just a case of too many applicants. She was ultimately waitlisted at that school. Another teacher actually did offer spots at two of the less competitive schools were he teaches, a nice “safety net” although DD did have other choices following the auditions.</p>
<p>Hope this helps start a conversation, especially since for us this process of “trial lessons” came as a complete surprise.</p>