2 answers

I have auditions for music schools in February, how do I best prepare with the volume of things to learn?

Updated Port Orange, Florida

I have to prepare 4 pieces, scales (major, minor, chromatic), and an etude. #college #college-selection #music #music-performance #music-industry

2 answers

Alex’s Answer

Updated Fort Mill, South Carolina

It shouldn't be as much as it seems. Some schools will have required pieces, others will just have guidelines that must be met. The pieces can usually overlap. Scales should already be comfortable by end of high school, but even if they're not, they are easy to do as a warm up. An etude can be something from your lessons. So scales = part of your warm ups, etudes = current lessons; There's two things that are already checked off. The 4 pieces: LOTS of listening. Listen to multiple professionals playing each piece and figure out what they do different and imitate them in the practice room. Work on a couple of lines at a time and compile them at the end (always practicing with a metronome). Play with the recordings. Also, for all of your practicing, record yourself. Then listen to it and give an honest critique. Next time you're about to practice, look at those notes and see what you want to improve on the most. You will probably start to see some tendencies in your playing.

Alex recommends the following next steps:

  • Listen to professional recordings
  • Practice with a metronome
  • Play with the recordings that you listen to
  • Record yourself playing and critique it
  • Formulate a plan for your practice sessions and have a goal for each session
I try to record myself, but I should definitely do it much more often. I also think it is a good idea to keep a notebook of critiques for the next practice session. Thank you!

Joey’s Answer

Updated New York, New York

Before we get to the nitty gritty, I'm also from Port Orange, Florida! I'm a Spruce Creek High School Class of 2014 graduate.

Now let's talk about how to prepare for college auditions.

First, really decide what your pieces and etude are NOW. If you focus on specific repertoire, you can really develop it into something special.

The way I prepared for conservatory/university auditions is by really strategic planning. I recently auditioned for graduate school (though the auditions for undergrad and grad school are somewhat different, the preparation is about the same). After I decided on the pieces I would play, I decided a game plan of what I would learn at what time. For me, I had to do four pieces, four etudes, and multiple orchestral excerpts for six schools. I would actually start with etudes. Etudes are usually based on a singular technique or issue on an instrument, so once you have that etude perfected, you'll have that technique for life. From there, you can transfer it to your scales and pieces.

Preparing solo works involve a lot of research. I would suggest listening to recordings of the pieces you choose in order to get the sprit of the pieces in your head. One thing I like to do is on the front page of a piece I have to play, I write three buzzwords: these words encompass the whole mood of the piece and the emotions you want to portray.

Also: START SLOW. If you practice only at full speed and it's sloppy, it will most likely stay sloppy until February. Flutist Julius Baker always said "you'll never make a mistake if you never make a mistake". If you practice perfection from a slow tempo, you can slowly inch it up to faster tempos, because you've done all the muscle work and development without rushing yourself.

If you find yourself frustrated, it's good to just play long tones and scales to take the pressure off, or even just walk away from practicing altogether for a little bit. I can honestly say there were times where I felt like I was overworked and I admit to openly crying in a practice room because of the stress. In retrospect, I just should've taken more breaks and allowed the time for me to breathe and relax. Fundamentals help me do that, and even just packing up and not practicing anymore help. Anything that makes your personal headspace that much more ready to go back the next day and be even better.

Joey recommends the following next steps:

  • Find your own voice in that music: how do YOU want this music to sound?
  • make a mental game plan of how you want to tackle the work: do you want to knock out one piece at a time, or do you want to practice chunks of each piece simultaneously?
  • listen to good recordings of those pieces
  • Narrow down which pieces/etudes you want to play
Thank you, Joey! I know your sister, haha. I will definitely do all of the above and focus on pacing, I think