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The Conservatory Audition Process

The Conservatory Audition Process

By Erica Garcia

Congratulations! Determining what you would like to pursue as a major in your collegiate studies is a big decision! When you choose to major in music, you open up a year to traveling to schools, writing application essays, and performing for esteemed audition panels.  It can sound new, exciting, or perhaps even overwhelming. Applying to music schools can seem scary, but with some organization, preparation, and hard work, it can be one of the most unique and rewarding experiences.

Timeline

Research, research, research! The first step of auditioning to colleges and conservatories is deciding which college and conservatories you would like to apply to. Additionally, which aspect of music would you like to study? Performance, education? Perhaps both? Maybe even a separate, unique program with a focus in music technology. Each school provides their own unique majors and curriculums. By researching a multitude of institutions, you will be able to see possibilities for your education you may not have considered before. When researching, here are some topics you should focus on:

Faculty

Who will be your primary instructor? Why would you like to study with them? What sets them apart?

Cost of attendance/Scholarship opportunities

The price of tuition seems to go up every year. Luckily, every college has their way of making their program accessible. 

Location

This is a place you are considering spending the bulk of your formative years in. Aspects such as campus, city, proximity to home, and weather are all aspects you should allocate some focus.

Deadlines

For the most part, there is a lot of overlap within the deadlines of music programs, but you should always double check! Better to take a few minutes to have your dates solidified then miss a deadline and not be able to audition for the program of your dreams.

Ask Your Friends! 

See which institutions your peers are applying to! Perhaps there is a school out there that you have not even considered, but many of your friends have expressed interest. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! This school may house a stellar program that you did not discover in your independent resource. Additionally, your friends will give you honest feedback about their experiences with schools, teachers, and communications. These factors will aid in guiding your decisions.

Preparing for The Audition

For some practice tips and additional audition prep resources, check out our How to Prepare for an Audition blog post. Additionally, be aware of which schools have a pre-screen requirement, which will most likely be due on or by December 1st. Some ways to make sure you and your instrument are in tip top shape is to pay a visit to your local luthier and have them examine your instrument and bow. Much like how a soccer player will not perform their best with a sprained ankle, you will not be able to perform your best if your instrument is injured. When preparing for your auditions, practicing can become mundane, as you will most likely be practicing the same repertoire for an extended period of time. Some methods to keep your practicing interesting are:

Learn an easy piece

Practicing for auditions can turn into an extremely stressful process. Take a step back and relearn a piece from years ago. Enjoy the simplicity in the music making.

Try practicing backwards

Once we learn a piece, our practice can turn quickly into running through the music ad nauseam. One way to mix it up, is playing the passage backwards! This can be done note by note or measure by measure. Be sure to mind your bowings! This will aid in memorization and internalizing the music, as your hands, mind, and ears become associated with the music on a deeper level.

If you can sing it, you can play it

Your teacher may be constantly telling you to sing through your repertoire. Singing is a great tool for finding ways to express your musicality and also memorize your repertoire. Do not discount the value of singing and listening to recordings of your pieces. I would recommend listening to recordings as frequently as possible. 

Create Balance

I know I just said to listen to recordings as often as possible, but you do not want to be able to completely exhaust yourself. Take time to explore other hobbies and do some self-care. It easy to become all consumed in the whirlwind of auditions. Make sure you are able to take a day and step away from the stress. Focus on other topics of conversation with your friends and family. 

It Will All Work Out

The process of applying to schools can breed a lot of feelings about uncertainty of the future. Millions of students have been in your shoes before, and millions will be after. You have worked hard to get to where you are today. You are in motion, and you will continue to grow and flourish. Trust the process and it will pay off.

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