Auditions

Auditions

A week from today I have collge auditions for the violin. Im interested to hear about other peoples experiences with auditions. Its a big step for me, as I have never prepared for something of this magnatude before. Im also interested what happened to people after college how music has influenced their life etc . .This is meant to be kind of an open ended discussion.

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OOh, yay. I get to be first!
I went to college for music too, but I’ll tell you right off the bat, I did not graduate with a music degree, nor am I working in the music industry, or making any [significant amount of ] money from music. That said, however, spending 4+ years as a music major changed my life forever. If I could again spend that much time doing nothing but thinking about music, be it via classes, partying, jamming, partying, jamming while partying .. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Music was always a part of who I was before that time, but I never really put it into perspective until I was completely immersed in it during my “adult formative” years. I was 17 when I went to University, and I basically became the adult I am today in that environment (only I hope I’m just a tad smarter now than I thought I was then).

That’s a start …
Who’s next??

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Oh yeah, and the audition?? As long as you don’t completely choke, and it’s not Julliard or Eastman, don’t sweat it. If you don’t get in, you’ll never see those pompous windbags again, so just play your heart out, give it 110%, and forget they’re there. And if you do get in, they’ll probably not remember you -- unless you completely dazzle them, which would be cool, too.

BTW, what school??

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Hi Anna,
Well, my experience is some 27 years in the past, but I’ll share it anyway on the chance it might still have benefit.

They’ll be ruthless. Expect every mistake and every difference in opinion of interpretation to be counted, and in detail. (Don’t let this get to you; they do it to everyone, and it’s nothing personal.)

If you can keep from being flustered by the whole thing, that will stand you in very good stead. Don’t let yourself look thrown out of your stride. They aren’t just looking for your technical abilities, they’re looking for stagecraft, for how you perform.

If you have the choice of what to play, play something you could play upside down and backwards in your sleep. If you don’t have the choice of what to play, remember that everyone else is stuck with the same piece you are and probably hasn’t got it memorized any better than you do. ;)

Relax, relax, relax.


After college…well, in college I changed my major from music to art history, and went in a totally different direction. (Long story, not relevant to the thread.) So I’ll let other people talk about that one.

Good luck to you!

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HI! Where are you applying? I’m a senior in HS and play the fiddle/violin too! I applied to Berklee College of Music (in Boston ) which is where I’ll be heading in the fall. I auditioned for their World Scholarship Tour and played fiddle tunes, and they loved it. The awesome thing about Berklee is that they are a “contemporary music” school and welcome all different kinds of genres and styles. They actually encouraged the musicians to play in the style they are most comfortable in, which in my case was trad Irish.
I don’t know where you’re applying…but I think the most important thing for an audition of that scale is to love what you’re doing and be comfortable with the piece(s) you’re performing. Because that will definetly shine through.
Have FUN and GOOD LUCK!!!
😀 😀

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Thanks for the comments. Im audtioning for colorado state university. Its a really small music program and they are trying to build it so I have a really good chance, If im lucky ill also be able to land some really good scholarships because of this. I guess its more a matter of me being satisfyed that I did ok at my audition. I applied to berklee, but even if I get in, theres no way I would be able to afford it. I have a friend at berklee who plays fiddle/violin who is a freshman there right now. If you want I can give you his email or aim screen name if you have questions about the school. It is a very awsome school. after I do my first two years in state im hoping to transfer somewhere like berklee, if not berklee. You sound like an awsome person. Good luck with everything. As for all you who started out as music majors and then switched, I could see that happening to me too. I love music to death, and the idea of doing music for the rest of my life is appealing, yet im so young still, and you never really know what life is going to throw at you. I also have alot of other interests. Just as long as I end up doing something I love. I hope all of you did.

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“Im audtioning for colorado state university.”

With your background, piece of cake then. Don’t even sweat it.

Think about this; they don’t expect you to be the best violinist in the world, otherwise you wouldn’t need to go there to study, right? All they’re interested in is that you’re good *enough* to go there to get better, that you have the basic skills to build on.

And good enough to go there doesn’t even have a lot to do with your playing, per se. What they’re going to be looking for is how you handle yourself in the situation, under pressure and under extreme critical judgment, because that’s part and parcel of the learning environment. This isn’t a music contest, it’s a “will she fit in here” contest.

So treat the audition as a learning experience, and whatever criticism that is given as instruction, and react to it in that manner, as if they were your teachers in a classroom, not a contest panel.

You’ll be in like Flynn.

Shame about your not going to Berklee though. We could have gone down to Harbor Park and had a few tunes together now and again.

“. . . they are a ”contemporary music“ school and welcome all different kinds of genres and styles.”

Bear in mind that “contemprorary music” is a code phrase for “jazz,” and while they may welcome all different kinds of genres and styles at the entry level don’t be at all surprised if when you get there all anybody talks about is jazz.

Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the jazz curriculum is the equivilent to classical training for “contemporary style.” You’ll leave there highly trained.

But you better be fond of jazz.

KFG

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Hi Banana, First of all, best of luck on your audition; I’m sure you’ll play very well and be proud of your efforts.

I went to school for a long-- a really long-- time and got more than one performance degrees, and I presently listen to auditionees as a faculty member at a large university. So, please indulge me here, as you’ve touched on one of my pet peeves.

The audition process is certainly one in which you want to play your best; However, it should not be viewed as a situation in which you enter solely with the intent of “impressing” the committee. To put it completely unfairly, you don’t want to “fool” the listeners into accepting you as a student if the match isn’t right for them-- but most importantly, for you. This process should be, IMHO, about what the right fit is for YOU as a student, how comfortable you feel with your would-be teacher, how you feel about the ensembles, what the performance repertoire is like, how much you like the facilities, what else the university and its community have to offer, etc. I have seen student after student come to study in a setting where they did everything the could do to “get in”, some by the skin of their teeth, only to realize too late into their education that the school simply wasn’t the right match. They end up miserable, depressed, and often in another careeer path. On a personal note, when I was auditioning for conservatories, I had my heart set on a particular school north of Chicago. I played for four other schools, mostly to appease my dad, who drove me out there and didn’t want to waste the trip. Turns out I was very underwhelmed by the situation at my “dream school” and couldn’t stand the teacher’s attitude. Meanwhile, I visited a school which was literally an afterthought, and wound up feeling totally welcomed there. I connected instantly with my teacher. Needless to say, I wound up getting two degrees there and my teacher literally changed my life. I’d do it all again there.

That having been said, CSU is an excellent school with a wonderful reputation. Their new music facility is second to none, very impressive. And I’m sure you’ve really looked at your options as far as college is concerned. Just make sure you’re the one considering the school, not the other way around. Ask questions; watch a rehearsal; sit in on a lesson if you can. With today’s tuition costs, this may likely be the largest financial investment you make in your lifetime, and will certainly be the most important musical one. Once again, best of luck and keep us posted.

DK

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Ooohh la de da
KFG majoring an MA in ITM? WTF? IMHO, tel th BBC.
LOL.
B Th Tme w gt 2 Th 22nd Cntury thr wnt B NE vowels lft N Th NGlish Lnguage. So w’d bst prpare fr th futr by starting nw.

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“This process should be, IMHO, about what the right fit is for YOU as a student. . .”

I totally negelected to point out that the “fitting in” is not only a two way street, but that Anna is the paying customer and the school is the seller looking to get her money. Young people just trying to get into a school overlook the fact that a college is a business with a bottom line and they want to accept students, not reject them. That’s where they get their money from and why they pay recruiters. She should be the one doing the “auditioning,” even more so than the school.

Realizing that can take a lot of the pressure off the whole application process.

Lovely post.

KFG

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Nice post, Darin. Anna, I’m glad (selfishly) you’re staying in the Colorado area when you go to school. 🙂 Good luck!

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Ok, Darin, we cross-posted, & while I was being silly, you were offering solid advice. That was really interesting stuff. If I may, might I add my tuppence worth?
Just to say, to kind of add to your advice, from my experience in job hunting, and this may seem so obvious, but, always show yourself in your best possible light. No matter whether you don’t really want to go there. Then you’ve impressed them and you have more high cards to play. Seems so obvious….

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Hi everyone,

Really fabulous answers. I totally agree with both Darin and Kevin. By the way Darin, are you the same Darin Kelly who reviews CDs for the Harp Column?

Anyway, I just wanted to reiterate that they’re not looking for you to be a finished product. They’re evaluating your potential. They want to see that you’re at the level technically and musically where you can make good progress in their program, and like Darin said, it’s not about “winning” the audition and impressing them, but figuring out from your perspective as well as theirs whether this school is where you want to spend potentially the next four years of your life and whether it’s going to be able to help you accomplish your goals.

Having said that, I had a couple of thoughts about what might tip them off to your “potential” in a conservatory setting.

One huge thing in the classical world is your sound/tone. Sheer beauty of tone is going to create a big impression even if you’re dropping notes or playing easier repertoire. This is also one of the biggest differences between classical and Irish music--how much a full, rounded tone is valued and expected.

The other really big thing is rhythm and control. This is definitely true of Irish music as well, for example in the fleadh, and of any kind of music or performance that I can think of. As a performer, you have to make the audience feel like they’re in good hands listening to you, like you’re in control of the piece and the instrument, not keep them on the edge of their seats afraid for you. Pick a tempo you can handle--for harp players, one of the #1 biggest audition mistakes is starting the Handel Concerto at a tempo they can’t sustain. Not only do they sound out of control after the easy opening, but even if they manage to hold it together, their phrasing suffers and their sound goes right out the window. It’s generally much, much better to play under tempo with gorgeous tone and sensitive dynamics and phrasing than to go for fireworks with speed and virtuosity unless you’re sure that you won’t sacrifice anything else in the process, especially under pressure.


Finally, scholarship money. It’s worth mentioning that sometimes (often?) how scholarship money is calculated has more to do with factors like what other schools you are considering--if you got into Berklee, for example, another school that accepted you might offer you a free ride to sway your decision, because for a fairly small school to get somebody who could theoretically go to a place with a bigger name helps the small school both by getting a good player and by being able to compete in the marketplace with Berklee. The same school might not offer any scholarship at all to someone whose audition was equally impressive but who did not apply anywhere else. So if I were you I would definitely go ahead and audition for Berklee or even Juilliard or Eastman, if possible, even if you have no intention of going there or know you can’t afford it. Just don’t tell CSU that! It’s just sad but true that if you have a deep commitment to one school to begin with, they’re going to take you for granted and do less for you than if you play hard to get. If you can tell CSU you got into such and such and you’re really considering going to the east coast, you’d probably be surprised what kind of offer they’d make you. It sucks having to play the game like that, but with the costs of education being what they are, and the system being set up the way it is, I think if a student can find a way to make it work to their advantage, more power to them.

And yes, Berklee is a jazz school. I know of several Irish musicians who’ve gone there and didn’t really know what they were getting into. They don’t have any Irish music professors that I know of, though maybe they do now. But if you were to go to Boston, and wanted to study ITM, you could always try to study privately with any of the amazing local musicians (Seamus Connolly, for example.)

Anyway, best of luck, and enjoy the ride!

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“By the way Darin, are you the same Darin Kelly who reviews CDs for the Harp Column?”

Whoa… you don’t actually READ those things, do you? Jeez, now I have to proofread…

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To second Darin’s comments, I’ll offer a little story.

When I was finishing up my English Lit degree (now *there’s* a whole kitten of marketable potential!), and noodling my way toward mediocrity on fiddle, I decided to try improving my technique by enrolling in violin classes at the University of Montana. For the first audition, I played a slow air and a Bach cantata. Then I auditioned with the top teacher, Walter Oliveras, who was just back from his debut at Carnegie Hall. I didn’t try to fake any classical in front of him--just Greenfields of Rossbeigh and a jig. He responded by saying I had one of the best bow hands he’d ever seen, and that absolutely none of it was transferring to how I sounded. (I still wrestle with that. *sheepish grin*) For some reason, he accepted me as a student. Which is when I made it very clear that I would play whatever he put in front of me, but that as soon as I graduated, it was all fiddle.

Now, Mr. Oliveras had plenty of good violinists with real talent and potential to teach. I don’t know why he let me take up time in his day. But we were both clear that I wasn’t aiming to be the next Perlman (or Oliveras), and he was okay with that. We got to be good friends and drinking buddies, and I learned a ton from him--all of it twisted into service for playing fiddle.

As Darin suggests, the audition was more about me auditioning the teacher and the program than the other way around. In other words, the teachers and administrators already know what they’re going to do for the next 4 years, whether or not you come to their school. It’s really about you finding out what *you’re* going to do for the next 4 years and the rest of your life.

Oh, and music can be a vital part of your life as long as you love it, whether or not you get a degree or a job in it. Just a thought.

You go girl! 🙂

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Thankyou for all the wonderful comments and stories. It helped shape my approach to my audition. It helped relieve alot of the stress of trying to be perfect.

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hey, I *like* your reviews, especially the fact that you don’t let people off easy who think they can play Irish music but can’t. 🙂

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OK, Ostrich, now that you’ve outed me, I apologize to everyone on this site whose recording I’ve torched. You know, part of the job and all…

Seriously, I don’t want to come off sounding like an elitist or anything, but I must admit that it does annoy me when a harpist buys a steel-string lever harp and decides that his/her true calling is “Sell-tic” music, which largely becomes a euphamism for poor rhythm and lack of style.

DK

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Oops, didn’t know you were trying to keep it on the down low. I only mentioned it because I *really* like your column. 🙂

And anyway, aren’t all the cds you review stuff that people send you voluntarily to be reviewed? If they’ve read any of the cd reviews in the past, they should know what’s likely to get torched, and if they haven’t, that’s their problem! By the way, “didgeri-dont” has got to be one of my favorite music terms ever…

Someday maybe I’ll write something to submit to “sounding board” about Irish harp. I heard the H.C was at one time looking for an article geared towards explaining it to pedal harpists, or something like that…it must have been right after Harpcon ’03. The writer was supposed to give me a call about it, but apparently never did, or couldn’t get ahold of me, but at any rate the article ended up being about something else entirely…

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Darin--I had no idea you did reviews for the Harp Column! I’d sure like to see some of the more scathing ones! I’m familiar with the the HC but have never subscribed to it since I always thought it was geared toward classical harpists.

Ostrichfeathers, I think you would be perfect to write an article on Irish harp explaining it to the classical harpists. I bet they desparately need the explaining!

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Ostrich, email Kim Rowe, the editor… she’s a good buddy of mine and I’m sure would love to have you write something. Email me off list and I’ll give you her address.

Andee, the HC makes it a priority to balance content between classical and (broadly) non-classical harp issues. Its genesis, really, was in Kim’s dissatisfaction with the stodgy, “Oh-Irish-Harp-Is-SO-Mauvais” attitude put forth in journals like the AHS Journal. You should definitely give it a read-- “Practical News for Practical Harpists”!

Um, will I ever see you out again?

DK

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Darin, I will come out to play again soon, I really want to you know--I’ve had a rough few months--blah, blah, etc.

I had to look up the definition on mauvais--and that’s *with* having had French for seven years in school!

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Hey banana512,
Good luck again with CSU and Berklee! That would be exciting to be a part of a budding music program! It would be awesome if I could contact your friend with some questions…if that’s ok with both of ya. Very reassuring that there’ll be another fiddler there 🙂

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Auditions are cake. I was accepted to Berklee and Hartt as a jazz studies major, and the most important thing to remember is that they want to see growth potential, not perfection. If you walk in there, and show that you have the ability to take their criticism and work with it, then you will be fine.

Of course, there is another piece of advice that has always served me well with auditions: if you are the type to get really nervous, a cup of camomille tea an hour or two before hand can really help a lot without affecting your playing.

hth,
cp