For Students: Preparing for College Music Auditions

The college music audition is more than just performing the pieces you've learned.

The college music audition is more than just performing the pieces you’ve learned.

So you have decided to go to college and study music! Excellent! Hopefully you have done your research and determined which music schools you may want to attend. The next step is the audition. Here are some tips for preparing for college music auditions.

Do some research

It’s very important that before you walk on campus to audition, you know a little about the school and the faculty you will auditioning for. Check out the website. Read the bios of the applied faculty who teach your instrument. Learn what kind of ensembles they have. Learn what degree programs they offer and get a sense of what classes you will take in any given degree program. The more you know, the more you will feel comfortable on your audition day.

Find out what you will be doing on audition day

Auditioning for music schools usually involve more than just playing a certain number of pieces that you have prepared. You may also be tested on your musicianship skills through a series of placement exams – music theory, ear training, sight singing, piano skills (if you aren’t a pianist). These music schools want to see that you are not only a good performer but that you are a good musician. Contact the school and ask them what kind of placement tests, if any, that you will be required to do. Then study! Brush up your musicianship skills before your audition day so that you feel a little more prepared.

You may also have an interview scheduled on the day of your audition. You may be interviewing with the music department head or some of the applied faculty for your instrument. Don’t be nervous about this. They might ask you why you want to attend their school, what you want to do with your degree, what other schools you are auditioning for. Just be personable and honest. They will also probably ask you if you have any questions for them. If you have done your research about the school as suggested above you may want to know more. Be prepared with one or two questions to ask them.

 Read the audition requirements carefully

Every music school will list certain repertoire and technical requirements that they expect you to do. Read them carefully and prepare for them. If they require you to do melodic minor scales in two octaves, don’t just prepare your major scales in one octave. If they require you to sing two contrasting songs from the classical repertoire, do not bring in “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. If your music is to be memorized, memorize it. If you don’t follow directions by preparing exactly what they want you to prepare, you are showing them that you are not an attentive student and that will work against you.

Dress appropriately

You need to think of this audition as a job interview. You should look professional and not like you just rolled out of bed. Wear nice clothes that are comfortable but look put together. Do not wear flip-flops, sneakers, tank tops, t-shirts, jeans, shorts, baseball caps…you get the picture. Ladies, make sure that you don’t wear anything that is too revealing. Mini skirts and cleavage distract from your performance. We want them to listen to you and if the visual distracts from that, you have done yourself a disservice. Gentlemen, you don’t have to wear a three piece suit, but dress pants and an ironed button-down shirt presents a nice clean look.

Finally, don’t forget anything at home!

Make a detailed list of everything you need to take with you to the audition and just like Santa Claus, check it twice! Pack your instrument and all the accessories, your music (original sheet music or clean copies that don’t have any missing notes and are organized in a binder), your performance clothes and shoes, any paperwork they may require (transcripts, recommendations), a water bottle, your mp3 player…..if you forget something, it is going to distract you that day and that will take away from your performance.

Finally, remember to have fun! These people want you to do your best, they don’t want you to fail. Go in and show them what you’ve got and hopefully you will get into the school of your dreams!


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