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Auditions for Music Schools and Conservatories

Feb. 15, 2013
Auditions are more than practice. It's also about cultivating relationships with teachers you want to study with.



Auditions for Music Schools and Conservatories can be very stressful for musicians. The best advice I can give to high school students auditioning for undergraduate degrees or undergraduates seeking graduate degrees is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!! This guide will give you lots of advice for practicing and preparing your audition.

Feeling like you did all you can do to be prepared for an audition will give you the confidence to play well for an audition. In fact, some research suggests that over 90% of all performance anxiety is due to a lack of confidence from inadequate practice.

I want to give you some tips that might not be as obvious as simply practicing.  I am currently applying for a second master’s degree in violin performance and am going through this very stressful process right now.

I have taken two auditions already in this process; the first was for University of Maryland and the second was for Boston Conservatory.

Travel arrangements for your auditions

I live in New York City, so obviously I had to travel to these music schools where I have auditioned. This leads me to my first tip, arrange your travel arrangements so you arrive at least a day before your audition for music schools and conservatories . The last thing you want to be worried about is getting lost, being late, dealing with traffic and all the other worries of traveling. Take care of your travel in advance so you don’t have to worry about anything except for your performance.

Get familiar with the audition space and area

Getting familiar with the location with the area of your audition for music schools and conservatories is also a good idea. Its like having the home-field advantage in a baseball game.  The more familiar with your surrounding that you are, the more comfortable you will be, and the better you will perform.

When I auditioned for grad schools for my first master’s degree I spent 5 to 7 days in each city. I lived in Miami at the time so I had to fly to all of my auditions for music schools and conservatories and didn’t have the luxury of being a 4 to 5 hour drive to my grad school auditions, like many in the northeast are able to do.

Take a lesson from the teacher you want to study with

Take a lesson from the teacher you are interested in studying with, in advance of the audition. For my first master’s degree auditions I took a violin lesson a couple of days before each audition, or the day after.

In hind sight, I don’t think this was the best way to go about the process of auditioning. While my audition process for my first master’s degree was a great experience, spending a week each in San Fransisco, Boston, and New York City, there was one big problem, the teachers at the schools barely got to know me. They heard me play a day before my audition and then I took the audition and that was it.

I didn’t create a relationship with any of the teachers I wanted to study with. They were also probably too busy with the other scores of students auditioning to remember much about me anyway during the regular audition season.  So this is why my best advice to any musician taking auditions at a music school or conservatory other than practicing well: take a lesson well in advance with the teacher you want to work with, and cultivate a relationship with that teacher and school.

I have two more auditions for music schools and conservatories coming up, one for the Peabody Institute and the other for the Mannes School of Music. I have taken a violin lesson from a violin teacher at each school. I will be taking a second violin lesson with a teacher at Peabody before my audition.

I will be going to a recital by the teacher I want to study with at Mannes tomorrow. I am creating a relationship with these teachers.  They know I am serious about studying the violin and that I am serious about being in their studio.

In addition, I now have direct experience with these teachers and their teaching style. After acceptance letters come around, I’ll have a much better idea about which school and teacher will be the best fit for me, too.

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