In today's video, we're going to be exploring the college audition process. It could be a little nerve wracking, it could be a little scary. But, I want to share my tips and tricks on how you can have a good college audition season this year.
Today we're going to be talking about five things for you to take note as you dive into college audition season. And it can get a little nerve wracking because you're all of a sudden making a very big life decision to get into music (and congratulations on making that decision!). It's a huge step forward and I know that a life full of music and studying music at the collegiate level is a very rewarding experience so I applaud for taking a big leap of faith.
Looking back on my experience into the whole college audition process, the first thing that I did that you should do is talk to your teacher. Your teacher (your private teacher) knows you the best in your private lessons. You've been with him or her for the last few years, they know how you play, they know what level you're at, and they might make some suggestions as to what kind of repertoire you might want to play for the college audition process.
So I would recommend talking to your instructor, your violin teacher, to get the best opinion on what you should do to prepare for this process.
Once you've had that conversation with your teacher, then you want to do your research.
Researching different institutions around the world is a good next step to really take note of this college audition process.
This is an overwhelming step 2 I would say. For me, when I was doing this college audition process, the second step of trying to find which music school is the right fit was actually really overwhelming for me. So, when you do your research, I want you to notice a few things.
I want you to notice, is there a lively music community in this school and in this area that you're going to be going for. Because if you're going into school for performance like I did, you want to make sure that there are performance opportunities, right? Not just inside the school, but also outside of the school. So that way you can build your professional experience in and out of school. And I think it is super valuable that we're starting to see more even in the job market. Right now in 2021, Fall of 2021, we're experiencing a large, large pool of jobs being open right now. And this is a great opportunity to be marketable in your field. And people are going to recruit you depending on how much experience you have.
The next thing I would research is the course load. What does the course load look like? What do the classes look like? What kind of topics will you be exploring? What topics are required out of your performance degree? Each conservatory, each music school has a different set of classes that are more or less aligned with the same kind of topics. But there might be some electives that will help you get to the next step. So yeah, I would do your research on those courses and on those electives.
Something that I would also do your research on (something that helped me as a musician) is diversity of the student body. If you have a lot of diversity you will learn a lot more from your peers. So, that is kind of like a little bonus tip that I want to add for you. Is that you have a diverse student body coming from different countries and it's very international, you're going to learn a lot more than you have a specific kind of student body. So I would really encourage you to explore that as well.
This next step be kind could be 2B but I'm making this a separate step because it's so important. It's to find the right teacher.
You want to find a teacher that will align with your goals, will align with your playing style, because many different teachers have different teaching styles. Even though this person may be (that you're researching) teaches at a good institution (or what you might THINK is a good institution) that teacher may not be for you. It doesn't matter what the institution is, what matters is the teacher. And if the teacher and the institution both match what you want out of your collegiate education in music, then that is what you should be going for.
You want to make sure that you can hit two birds with one stone. That the university or the college or the conservatory is really good, and also the teacher is very good. So that is a very big step 3.
In addition to that, I would add that if you have the opportunity, if you have the ability to have trial lessons with these teachers,
I would recommend that you do so. So that way you're not at the audition and then requesting a trial lesson because at that point you're in audition mode and you're traveling to different places around the country and around the world. It can get very exhausting and it could be very tiring. So I would recommend getting a trial lesson with a teacher before your audition so that you can get a better idea whether or not this teacher is the right fit for you.
I remember thinking there's this one school that I got into and I was like, "Oh this is a great institution!" But the teacher, you know, doesn't really align with my goals or my values. So I actually chose another institution another school and the teacher and the school really meshed well together and my values actually aligned with the values of the school. That's something that I would really encourage you to explore.
So, we did research, teachers, classes, the next one is the goals. You have to make sure that your goals align with your teacher's and your goals align with the institution. You're going to be spending 4 years practicing in the school and in ensembles. You want to make sure that these 4 years are well spent. So, are these goals of the institution align with your goals? Do the goals that you have align with the goals of the student body?
This is crucial because you don't want to make a decision in the first year and all of sudden be like, "Oh my gosh, I made a mistake. I made a huge, huge mistake. I actually don't want to go to school."
Keep in mind that if you want to transfer schools, a lot of these credits in conservatories and music colleges are not transferrable. Some of them are, but a lot of them aren't. You're going to have to start from square one from freshman year. Like, if you finish your freshman year, your full freshman year and you're like, "I don't like this institution" and you apply somewhere else, it's very unlikely that they will accept you as a sophomore. You will have to go back through their system, through their curriculum as a freshman. And that can be very frustrating so I encourage, I implore you make sure that your goals are aligned.
Last but not least, and this is a big one. Check the price of the school. We're kind of in an epidemic of student loan debt in the United States. It's really bad. You want to have good value in your education and of course if you are at a level where you're able to get a scholarship, get as much scholarship as you can. Try to negotiate! Checking the price of the institution is actually very, very, very, VERY important. Because sometimes schools are going to overcharge for education. And you're not going to get that much value out of that education. Or, there are some institutions that offer the price, and they offer the result and that's what you pay. But, check the price on what you can afford.
I feel like the number one reason why musicians don't find success after school is because they're in student loan debt. I can't tell you how many people that I know who are struggling with student loan debt in the music field and they have dreams, they have goals like recording an album or starting a chamber ensemble. Student loan debt is a crisis in the United States. So if you can avoid student loan debt at all costs, do so. Because it's going to help you.
And the reason why I say this is because orchestra jobs are becoming less and less available around the country of the United States. When I was auditioning for orchestras there were maybe 50 full-time positions available out of a pool of enormous amount of violinists. Kind of like what my former violin teacher said, "If you win an orchestra job, it's kind of like winning the olympics." And it's very very difficult to achieve.
However, musicians are going to be natural entrepreneurs after they graduate from school. So you're going to be spending a lot of time away from your instrument instead of practicing so that you can form something of your own like a non-profit, etc.
If you can avoid a student loan debt to focus more energy and more time into your goals and into your craft and into your music, that is a huge thing.
Let me know in the comment section. What are you nervous about or what are you excited about in the college audition process? I want to know your thoughts and I want to get this conversation going down below. If there's any video that you would like me to make, please post it down in the comment section below that way I can make a video about it or respond to you.
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