In order to gain admission into the music department of a college, you will have to pass an audition, where you will be asked to demonstrate good tone quality, intonation and practical ability with your chosen instrument. The purpose of the audition is to determine if you will be able to learn what the college's music department has to teach you within a four-year period. A college music audition can be a stressful experience but with practice and the right preparation you can make a good impression.
Research what the music audition requirements are for your chosen school. These requirements can sometimes be found on the college's website or may be acquired by contacting the school musical department directly. Find out if they require a particular solo piece. Ask if they allow an accompanist, which may make your audition stand out in a positive way. Many college-level music teachers offer a free lesson to students interested in applying to their school, which provides an opportunity to ask questions about the audition process.
Maintain a rigorous practice schedule leading up to the audition. Most college music auditions will require the student to perform scales in a range of styles and speeds, so practice your modal scales at as many different tempos as you can manage and in a variety of styles and volumes (straight, swung, staccato, legato, loud, soft). Practice proper technique and posture while playing. Performing practice auditions for friends and family may help ease anxiety about the real audition.
Practice sight-reading. Sight-reading refers to the ability to play a piece of music while reading it for the first time and many colleges require sight-reading during the audition process. Like any other musical skill, sight-reading is something that should be practiced regularly for improvement. Practice can be done by choosing a musical exercise book and seeing if you can play the exercises correctly the first time. Take note of the time signature, recommended tempo and key signature before you start playing.
Choose several pieces of music that showcase your strengths as a musician. Most colleges will want to see what you can do with a piece of music of your own choosing, so pick pieces that are expressive and also tell the committee something about you as a person. Be sure to stick to music at your skill level that you are sure to sound good playing and that also demonstrates your versatility as a performer.
Prepare a list of questions about the college's music program. Examples of questions should include the number of openings for the next enrollment period, the job-placement record for the music department, the size of the classes in the music department, the music teacher's teaching philosophy and scholarship opportunities. Keep in mind that many schools allow parents to be present during the audition process.
Dress and act appropriately. Avoid wearing jeans, shorts, T-shirts and sandals. Avoid distracting hairstyles, heavy makeup and revealing clothing. Try to dress in a manner similar to how you would dress if you were applying for a job interview.
Be on time. Showing up on time tells the committee that you respect them and that you value their time.
Smile and thank the committee members after the audition is completed.
- Have your instrument serviced prior to the audition.
- Depending on your instrument, bring extra supplies, such as reeds, valve oil, slide cream or drum sticks in case you need them.
- Bring a copy of your high school transcript or resume.
Chris Hoke is a freelance writer, blogger and musician living in the San Francisco bay area. He began writing professionally in 2005 and his articles regularly appear on EmailServiceGuide.com and Slapstart.com.