Things we learned in the music application process

<p>We got some surprising and confusing results, but the conclusion was wonderful. Much of what we had learned by reading this forum turned out to be true.</p>

<p>Things we discovered were true:</p>

<p>--There is no such thing as a safety school in an auditioned program.<br>
--It definitely pays to reach.
--Get the highest grades and test scores as possible, it will help with scholarship offers.
--Admissions really can be a crap shoot.
--Follow your gut instincts, the stars just may align for you.
--It is an excellent idea to do an "open house" type audition for an early admit.
--It is not impossible for sopranos to get merit $.</p>

<p>Things we suspect may be true:</p>

<p>--Unless you consistently win every competition, every role, you should probably apply to at least 10 schools.
--For schools with rolling admissions, it can help to audition at an early date if you can.
--For voice, schools and faculty may have a preference for a certain type of sound (ie dark vs. light, etc) and there is not much you can do about it.
--NO program exists that has everything you would like. No matter what, you have to compromise.
--Things will usually turn out for the best.</p>

<p>D's experience: She filled out applications for 10 schools: a variety of conservatories, universities, LAC's, some double major, some dual degrees. Academically, all were matches or safeties. Because she had a good offer relatively early on, she withdrew applications at 2 schools, so only 8 were full applications. 4 were reach schools, ie, pre-screens required. Of those, 3 out of 4 were rejected. That left 5 possible schools. Of these, 1 was what we (and her teachers) considered a "match," 3 "safeties," and the one reach school. 4 auditions were in person, one was regional, ie, recorded by a staff member and viewed later by faculty. The auditions: D felt she did her very best audition at her reach school, and she also did well at the match and two of the three safeties. The results: rejected by the "match" (regional audition), rejected by what we had considered the "uber-safety" (She had had a lesson w/faculty with very positive feedback and plenty of encouragement and post-lesson attention--that teacher was NOT at the audition), accepted by 2 safeties, one with a large academic scholarship but no music merit, the other with no merit $. She was accepted by her "uber-reach" with a music merit scholarship that the financial aid officer described this way: "a top-tier scholarship, they must really want her, there are very few applicants who get more than that...." </p>

<p>After a few rejections in a row, there was a point at which my D felt crushed, "I guess I shouldn't be a music major...." A few days later, a very attractive offer from Eastman. This had been D's number one choice from the very beginning. Gratitude and relief.</p>

<p>Good points! Congrats on Eastman (the west coasts loss is the east coasts gain)</p>

<p>Thank you. And all those winter clothes we bought for Interlochen will get used again!</p>

<p>I think you make good points, but I disagree with a few things.</p>

<p>10 is a lot of schools to apply for, write essays for, ect. You won't only get into ONE college. Plus as a music major you'll be auditioning at all these schools! Believe me, I was worried about being accepted to schools, and so far 5 of 7 schools have accepted me. I think 6 or 7 is a better number.</p>

<p>Also I don't really like having "safety schools." Just a personal preference thing - I think it's a bit insulting to the school that you're applying to, and what if you end up there? I imagine it wouldn't feel great to saying you're attending your "safety school" for the next four years.</p>

<p>Congrats on Eastman!</p>

<p>Hmmm, well, considering my D's results, if she had not applied to "safeties" -- remember, we concluded that really there is no such thing -- without the Eastman acceptance she would have had NO acceptances at all. Her only acceptances were to two "safeties" (both schools with great voice faculty) and her "uber-reach." Also, no, with pre-screens one may not indeed be auditioning at 10 schools. And though we did discuss the possibility of a gap year, my D would not consider it. And yes, she would have attended one of those "safeties," happily, as the teacher is quite excellent, the singers there are very good, we had seen performances, the $ offer was attractive, the location was convenient to our home. I guess by "safety" we meant a likely admit, a good program, but not one of the first choices. She did not apply to schools she wouldn't consider attending. You are right, 10 schools means too many essays, etc. But the result was worth it.</p>

<p>Congrats on your acceptances, deagle1. It looks like you will have some great choices! Good luck in your decision-making!</p>

<p>Congratulations on your D's successes, and more importantly, on getting through the process. Now you need to stick around awhile and pay it all forward! (As you are doing.)</p>

<p>As I read your post, I see that your D started with 10, but due to pre-screens and withdrawals, her final take was 5 schools. Five auditions is still plenty of work, but reasonable, I think. I think that on the more popular instruments, which require prescreens, it is better to start with a higher number.</p>

<p>Some of your experiences will be slightly different for different instruments and/or backgrounds. One thing you didn't list, but did mention: Enlist the help of private teacher(s) in determining appropriate levels to shoot for. There are SO many options out there - the list needs to be refined to fit the student. </p>

<p>Another thing to add: Believe in your kid. Worry, but in another room! Save the "back up plan" discussion for either early in the game, or much later. In the face of rejection (and there WILL be some, at some point), they need someone who supports them totally. Someone who insists that every rejection represents a stupid decision by the school.</p>

<p>--Unless you consistently win every competition, every role, you should probably apply to at least 10 schools.</p>

<p>I think 10 schools is a bit much, my son did 5 but he does not play a popular instrument and he really was considered one of the best euphonium high schoolers on the East Coast. (we were actually contacted by schools that we didn't apply to and asked why we weren't gining them a shot), My daughter on the other hand wil apply to more thatn 5 as she is a Flute/Pic player and the field is very different, but 10, I don't think so.</p>

<p>--For schools with rolling admissions, it can help to audition at an early date if you can.</p>

<p>I absolutely agree with this one.</p>

<p>--For voice, schools and faculty may have a preference for a certain type of sound (ie dark vs. light, etc) and there is not much you can do about it.</p>

<p>This is true for other instruments as well, at least it is for flute and euphonium.</p>

<p>--NO program exists that has everything you would like. No matter what, you have to compromise.</p>

<p>My son would argue this point, he is absoutely thrilled with his choice and never ever complains about anything including the freezing cold.</p>

<p>--Things will usually turn out for the best.</p>

<p>Yup !</p>

<p>I have applied to 9 (?) schools if I recall. That paperwork was grueling.</p>

<p>I agree with most everything on your list, very well put (especially the one about preference of tone color). I think that some variables of an audition can be out of one's reach. </p>

<p>Well spoken as well regarding the compromises one has to make. There's always at least something one might envy from another school (money is also usually a factor).</p>

<p>I do not recommend 10 applications/auditions, though. For a musician who is as involved in school and the community as much as most "pre" music majors usually are, the paperwork and auditions can kill. Although, I too love the options! It's a love hate kinda thing.</p>

<p>This thread should result in a sticky after everyone weighs in - there's a lot of good advice that can be assembled. Thanks for starting it.</p>

<p>A BEGINNING list of ten may seem like a lot, but if you are an undergrad soprano and interested in a merit scholarship like to actually makes a lot of sense. A good part of these choices will fall by the wayside very early in the process. After a few pre screens, visits, lessons et al. ----Safeties become reaches, dream schools become "nevers", reaches become "best bets". You never know who is going to be looking for your particular soprano sound and which school is already well populated with her voice type. Just remember the biblical quote " and the first shall be the last".</p>

<p>Sounds like a sensible list. One thing to re-iterate is that an audition is not a scientific process measured by machines, that members of an audition panel's criteria can go well beyond simple technical things like intonation, to things like preference for the kind of sound, as Sopranomom said. or stylistic preferences......and it is a crapshoot, unless you are going to a school where every teacher sits in (like Curtis), you may just get that panel that doesn't like the style of the student performing, whereas another group may love them <em>shrug</em>.</p>

<p>I have a question, about this statement "Get the highest grades and test scores as possible, it will help with scholarship offers." From everything I have heard, for conservatories and other auditioned music programs, grades and test scores don't factor into admissions or scholarships (I am leaving out dual programs, like Bard and Shepherd and maybe Oberlin, where you do dual BA/BM degrees), were you referring to academic scholarships, or ones where someone is getting a BM?</p>

<p>Just a side note. We know someone who got "the call" from Curtis yesterday for the MM program. This student only sent out three apps and one of those apps was rejected in the pre screen . You never know.</p>

<p>musicprnt, the convoluted nature of the whole music admissions process makes academics an important factor, be it for admission, merit or talent scholarship. There is such a disparity on how each specific school allocates money and the weight of academics versus talent in an admit decision. </p>

<p>The weight of that varies by program, even amongst Rice/Shepherd, Oberlin C and/or Con, Bard, Northwestern, or Podunk U.</p>

<p>There are auditon based admits, admissions centered admits, and admits where both criteria have to meet the bar.</p>

<p>Unless you have deep pockets and don't need to consider "free" money in help of paying for it, or your kid is only going after the true stand alone, "audition is the only factor" straight conservatories, academic grades and stats will play a role.</p>

<p>And some will argue that even at the straight conservatories, if Jill and Johnny each had equal talent, perhaps Jill gets in because of her "better" academics. My personal take there is well, it probably doesn't, but maybe it MIGHT (a little).</p>

<p>And if for whatever reason, if Jill decides at the last mnute to switch from performance to ed, or musicology, or theory the grades are gonna help.</p>

<p>Grades matter. Period. I don't want to say which school but we are aware of someone who is holding a rejection letter from one of the ultra-top, all about the music, conservatories having been expressly told, you passed the audition but your grades are a problem. And for scholarships at many conservatories attached to universities or colleges, grades can get you scholarship assistance in addition to music merit scholarships.</p>

<p>Great thread! Really clear and realistic for most kids. D applied to 10 last year (not music) and sort of went through the same process with ED and EDII and consequently withdrawing apps. Thanks for the music perspective-helpful for upcoming S.</p>

<p>Violadad is absolutely spot on about his Jill v. Johnny academic comparison. Peabody told us exactly this in a session last year.</p>

<p>This is a great topic.
My son applied to 10 schools, 5 of which had prescreens. In retrospect, I think he feels like he could have narrowed it down a bit more than he did, but, honestly, we were just so clueless as to where he would be successful, it just felt safer that way. It was exhausting and so time consuming, though, but ultimately paid off in him having a great selection of schools.</p>

<p>I also heartily agree that grades matter, in exactly the way that violadad explained...although it is not Juilliard, the admissions director at the New School spent most of my son's interview talking about his GPA and test scores. Her take was that students who demonstrate high academic achievement as well as musical prowess show that they are able to balance challenging and often conflicting schedules as well as perform exceptionally despite distractions.</p>

<p>Things we’ve learned…</p>

<p>You’re not the same person in November as you are in April. The school that D thought was top-of-the-list sank to the middle of the pile, and one that she only added on at my urging has turned out to be her top choice right now. (Unfortunately, she’s waitlisted, but that’s a different thread…)</p>

<p>You can audition at 9 schools, if you schedule carefully and get at least a couple done before Christmas break. It’s tough, though, and not for the faint of heart. </p>

<p>Dress appropriately and practice in the clothes (and shoes!) you’re wearing for the audition.</p>

<p>Bananas may be a placebo, but they work. </p>

<p>You should have polite yet informative answers prepared for the relatives who have only ever heard of Juilliard and the school in their hometown and want to pepper you with questions at holiday gatherings.</p>

<p>This is completely different from the regular college admissions process.</p>

<p>Invest in Purell. Germs are the enemy during audition season.</p>

<p>You get a free night if you book 10 hotel stays through Thanks to whoever alerted us to this one last year!</p>

<p>Snowboarding and extreme sports involving potential broken limbs should be put on hold until after audition season.</p>

<p>It *will *snow during at least one of your audition weekends, causing havoc to your carefully planned schedule. And making snowboarding that much more attractive.</p>

<p>Love your safety. Even though D won’t be attending hers, we liked it a lot and are recommending it to other people.</p>

<p>Mom’s/Dad’s job is to hold the coats, tell the kid how great they sound, find an empty practice room, and shut up the rest of the time. </p>

<p>Your music teacher, the one who’s also been your therapist throughout this whole process, should probably get flowers or a nice bottle of wine about now.</p>

<p>Money counts.</p>

<p>Audition live if at all possible.</p>

<p>Chocolate helps.</p>

<p>Sometimes it’s better before the mailman arrives.</p>

<p>The music world is very, very small. </p>

<p>All of this would be much more stressful without the wonderful people on this little corner of CC. Thank you, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and perspectives, dreams and defeats, humor and warnings.</p>

<p>Okay, stradmom, I'm afraid to ask about the bananas....the imagination runs wild!</p>

<p>I remember having this conversation on the board after auditions last year too, but I really caution the upcoming seniors AGAINST recommendations to do ten auditions. It really is too many, in my opinion.</p>

<p>Yes, auditions can be a bit of a crapshoot, but I honestly feel that if students know, more or less (as the result of an independent, professional appraisal, sample lessons, etc) where they sit in the talent pool, the list can be dramatically reduced. Ten auditions is not like ten college applications (although ten applications is also quite daunting, particularly for conservatories, which are not on the Common App---I don't care what anyone says either---that Unified App only saved time in typing in biographical information; the essays were ALL different, at least they were a couple of years ago).</p>

<p>I think the single best bit of advice we ever got here was to have the talent appraisal. After that, the job of making lists became much easier. Also, summer camps, visits, etc, did dramatically reduce our initial list, which probably was ten, My son's instruments were pre-screened, so that helped us know that if he passed the prescreens, at least he was in the running.</p>

<p>Hopefully, now that everyone is done with the process and the kids have such terrific results, parents can look back and relish the time that they had, running around to all these auditions. Exhausting as it is, I still remember the audition period as one of my most very favorite parenting times.</p>