Tips for Preparing Students for College Auditions

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 the audition(s). 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.
Explore more tips and tricks to engage middle schoolers and how to teach high schoolers.