For the college bound, after months of careful research wading through hundreds of brochures and catalogs, numerous discussions with your private teacher, band or choral teacher, friends, the ever-helpful guidance counselor, and yes, your parents, the list of candidates will have been narrowed considerably. Notice, I refer to the list of schools as the audition candidate. That is not a mental trick to reduce the butterflies in your stomach on audition day, but if it helps, why not?
A healthy mindset on audition day is not “does the school like you?, ” but “do you like the school, the teachers, the programs offered, the environment?” There are thousands of “good” music programs, both conservatory-oriented and liberal arts-based. The faculty members will hear hundreds of students audition. However, the number of schools you audition can be counted on one hand.
When choosing the “candidates” to pursue my master’s degree, I auditioned five schools (three live, two recorded). Following the auditions at each, I knew immediately how to rank them. Not as a reflection on the individual schools, teachers, or students — all were and continue to be fabulous — but with a feeling I got at each. In the whirlwind of warming up, waiting, meeting students, campus tours, entrance exams, and exit interviews, it is often easy to overlook these basic questions:
- Am I comfortable here?
- How hard am I willing to work to succeed?
- What are the challenges?
- Are there opportunities to perform outside of the university setting? (The networking begins here!)
Should you have extra time, visit your top choices again, preferably during a busy performance time. Attend student and faculty performances. Become aware of the guest performers that frequent both the campus and the surrounding area. Do your homework, yet listen to your instincts, too, and you will find the right school for you.