(Ed. Note: Even
though the title states "College Auditions", much of this applies to
any competitive situation, even junior high or high school Solo & Ensemble
From Dr. Edwin
In the spirit of helpfulness, here are
a few thoughts for all you high school students who are preparing to do
auditions for admission to college. Just a few minutes ago, I sat on an
auditioning committee for a student who was playing her audition. Several
things occurred to me which might be useful, and I present them for your
First, it goes without saying that you
must carefully prepare the materials you are going to play. Remember that what
the committee wants to know about you varies from school to school, but
generally, they want to try to determine if you will be able to learn in a
four-year period what they want to teach you. Almost always, being able to
demonstrate satisfying tone quality, good intonation and musical expressiveness
will be much more important than fast fingers. Don't feel that you have to play
a technically perfect performance in order to be accepted. If you were already
a professional, they wouldn't have anything to teach you.
These basics out of the way, most of
what I would like to say relates to more incidental matters, but important ones
if you are going to be able to present your abilities in the best light.
- Find out what the audition
requirements are for the school or schools to which you are applying. If they
want a particular solo piece, or etudes, or certain scales played in a certain
style or speed, know that before going into the audition room. This information
is not secret, and every good school will be pleased to tell you that in
advance. If given free choice, get the advice of a good teacher and make
appropriate selections. Do not take something like the 3rd clarinet part or the
2nd bassoon part of a work from your band or orchestra folder as audition
- Take care of the fundamentals. Make
sure your instrument is in good condition, and if you are a reed player, that
you have a reed which works reasonably well. Warm up properly before going into
the room, but by no means make the auditioning committee wait for you while you
try to get in a little last-minute practicing. Be on campus early enough to
find out where the audition room is. Be on time, or a few minutes early.
- Dress appropriately. Jeans, shorts,
short skirts, sandals, T-shirts, etc., do not help make a good impression.
Don't have your hair made over into a hip, movie-star or starlet style, and
don't wear extremely heavy makeup. Be business-like. Dress comfortably, but
presentably. For women, high heels are almost always a bad choice. If your
knees begin to shake a little, this lesson will be brought home in a very real
- Remember that you are being assessed
in many ways in addition to the evaluation of your musical performance. Be
straight-forward, respectful, direct and congenial, but not overly familiar.
Try not to convey arrogance, fear, resentment, conceit or too much nonchalance.
If someone offers their hand, shake hands firmly - no "dead fish"
handshakes, please, and no "vise-grips." Smile!
- Focus on the task at hand. Don't
devote any mental energy to wondering what the auditioners are thinking about
what you are doing. Stay in real-time. That is, don't think about any mistakes
you may have made in the music, or any difficult passages coming up. Enjoy the
music you are performing.
- If the auditioners ask you any
questions, answer as completely but as concisely as you are able, in a firm
tone of voice. Look directly at the person to whom you are talking. You can't
be prepared for any and every question you may be asked, but prepare a little.
Have a copy of your high school transcript or resume at hand. Prepare a
repertoire list. Know the name and something about the background of your
private teacher back home. Be able to pronounce correctly the title and the
name of the composer of the music you are performing. Know what to say if asked
what make and model of instrument you play, what kind of mouthpiece or reed you
are using, etc.
- When you have finished and are
excused, smile and say, "Thank you."
- If you really want to make a
good impression and be thought of as a truly special prospect, when you get
home, send a brief note to someone at the school, perhaps your prospective
major teacher, the head of the music department, or someone in the admissions
office, thanking them for listening to your audition and for making you feel at
home (if they did so.) Very few students do this, and it can make you
stand out in their minds.
- Remember that those listening to you
want to make you feel comfortable and at ease. If you feel that they are
talking or laughing too much, they are probably trying to break the tension for
you. They have their job to do in the audition, just as you do. It is not their
intention or in their interest that you fail to do as well as you are able.
They are on your side.
- Remember that the audition and
acceptance process is a two-way street. You are auditioning the school as much
as they are auditioning you. The whole purpose is to make a proper match
between students and schools. Try to find an opportunity to establish
communication with the person who may become your major teacher, as this person
will exert a profound influence in your life.
I hope you find some of these items
helpful. Good luck!
|Dr. Edwin Lacy
||University of Evansville
|Professor of Music
||1800 Lincoln Avenue
||Evansville, IN 47722