College auditions can be one of the first times a student is faced with a truly high stakes audition situation. Using these tips can help lower your students’ stress levels and help them feel prepared on audition day.
Create a smart practice schedule.
- Six months before the audition: decide on repertoire for audition. Always double check with audition information websites for each school your student is auditioning for to make sure you include required repertoire.
- Set a date for when all music should be learned, approximately three months before the auditions begin.
- Set a date for when all music should be memorized or off book, generally at least two months before the audition.
- The last two months or six weeks should be dedicated to smoothing and polishing technique challenges and working to incorporate stylistic elements and musicality.
- Pieces should be run in full with a performance in mind during the two weeks leading up to the audition(s).
Discuss strategies for stage fright/performance nerves.
- Deep breathing techniques or other meditation methods
- Have your student perform in front of friends, classmates, or family to help them adjust to the sensations of live performance
Prepare your student for the day of.
- Provide them with a checklist for their materials
- Instrument, any sheet music or books they need to use for the audition, sheet music for the accompanist, sheet music for panel (if requested), clothes, water, a snack etc.
- Have your student practice how to introduce themselves and their pieces. This is just as much a part of the audition as the playing is.
- Also, have them practice how to give their tempo to an accompanist
- Help your student create a music binder for their accompanist.
- Sheets in correct order
- No plastic covers
- Clean sheet music with only the marking an accompanist needs to help you
- Discuss positive goals for the audition like making it through a tricky phrase in one breath or nailing the diction of a difficult song.
- This takes the importance away from the result and puts it on enjoying the performance aspect of auditioning — something easier to feel in control over.
Help your student set reasonable goals.
- College auditions are usually the first time your student is going to be faced with a high stakes performance for the ‘real world’.
- Have an honest and open discussion with your student about reach vs. safe music schools. Include a tactful discussion about their ability to make it into tough programs.
- Going to music school should be about truly learning a craft, not about prestige. Choose schools based on a teacher, specific degree program, importance placed on performing vs. class work etc.
- Audition panels are on your side! They want you to succeed. They are looking for potential and genuine love for the music.
- Discuss how to handle the uncontrollable aspects of an audition, like an accompanist taking the wrong tempo, a panel member’s phone going off or other distractions
- Help your student study for any written or oral tests they’ll need as part of entrance.
- Encourage your student to take a lesson or two with faculty that interest them at the school.