Kat DaVille | Musician, Blogger, Consultant | Central NJ | 6 Ways to Prepare for Your College Audition
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6 Ways to Prepare for Your College Audition

6 Ways to Prepare for Your College Audition

College Tuition guy has his priorities in check.


You decided to go to a music university???  Good for you!!


However, prepare yourself: you’re about to embark on a complicated journey…


University auditions tend to be extremely competitive.  Your grades may be fine and dandy, but how about your performance?  The audition represents a good chunk of the decision making process, anyway.  Besides, half the time, you’re uncertain as to what kind of student these judges are looking for, even though the admissions rubric is detailed.  It’s a confusing time!


I’ve been on lots of panels.  As a judge, there’s several items I look for in a prospective student:


  • How well can you take criticism?

  • Are you willing to listen to feedback?

  • How well can you apply the judges thoughts from their assessment?

  • Can you learn key points and commands quickly?

  • Are you open to other genres of music?


As a prospective student, there’s so much to consider when preparing for a university audition.  Naturally, you prefer to place your best foot forward, but is that enough?


Are you papers in order and turn in on time?  Did you submit all criteria, including video links, letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc.  It’s incredibly overwhelming for an aspiring musician whom all they ever wanted to do was play music.  If that’s not enough, as a teenager, these admissions decisions come with devastating blows that could provide the direction for the rest of your life…


I was that kid.  I don’t want that to happen to you.  Read on, dear reader…

1. Know the Requirements


Every university has a certain amount of requirements to audition for their arts program.  Some institutions pool music together with sculptors, painters and dancers.  Other places separate these disciplines into their own categories, let alone their own buildings.


Regardless, each institution documents all their requirements on their admissions website.  Follow those requirements, carefully.  Some of them may include:


  • Teacher Recommendations
  • Theory Examinations
  • Audition Requirements
  • Selection of Audition Dates
  • Undergraduate (or Transfer or Graduation Application)


I promise, if you put things in a master list format, this process will be much easer to keep track.


2. Dress to Impress


Courtesy of Glotsy.co


College auditions practically represent the same concepts as job interviews.  Just like in job interviews, we only have one chance to make a memorable first impression.


I’m not saying you need to wear a power suit equal to a NYC stock broker.  Instead, I’m telling you to be yourself.  If you have fantastic multicolored streaks in your hair, use that to your advantage when coordinating your outfit.  Suppose you wear lots of jewelry as a part of your identity; how can you use these accessories to make you stand out and ensure the jury remembers you?


The idea here is to dress your cleanest, sharpest and best self.  Dressing your way reinforces your confidence so much, that when you walk out of your house to attack this audition, you feel AMAZING.


3. Talk to the Judges


Courtesy of B & T Magazine


There’s no rule that says you’re not allowed to acquire feedback from the jury.


As a prospective student, you are well within your right to learn more about the audition process, what the judges are interested in hearing, how well you performed and what you can do better.


That’s the key: Humility.


Gaining feedback from individuals with more experience will give you the keys to success early on.


Also, the jury consists of human beings.  These judges are eager to hear your point of view about the song selection you chose and what situations inspired you to pursue music in the first place.  Your future is in your hands, especially at a university.  These professors are titans in their field and want to help you reach your academic and professional goals.

4. Perform Under Pressure


Courtesy of MIT Sloan Business School


The first time I auditioned for a music school was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been.  I walked in blind.  I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know for whom I would be performing.  Eventually, I played my pieces and they raved about how well I showcased my talent.


Hilariously, I didn’t get in.  I learned I didn’t turn in all my paperwork (we used paper back then) on time.


I have no shame in telling you how hard I cried when I got my rejection letter.


However, I learned something very valuable.  Yes, make sure your paperwork is in order (duh).  Also, regardless of how talented you are, perhaps that school (or gig) isn’t right for you.


Naturally, you are well within your right to exercise your natural responses to negativity.  BUT there’s a time and place to execute these responses.  As an auditioning performer, you will get many doors slammed in your face.  That doesn’t mean you’re a terrible artist.  It just means that school or band or show or production is not meant for you.


Don’t worry, though; all is not lost.  As you reinforce your auditioning chops and make your rounds in the circuit, you’ll feel much better about how well you perform under pressure.


Mentally prepare yourself for being inundated with last minute changes to musical pieces.  Sometimes, the just will throw a curve ball at you to see how well you interpret last minute information on the fly.  Interestingly enough, it’s a trick of the trade and helps the judges determine how quickly you think on your feet.


Above all of that excitement, the judges primarily look for students who are malleable enough to NOT crack under pressure.  Take a deep breath, remember why you applied in the first place and do your best.  Any judge, regardless of their decision, appreciates the audition experience of a first time student because they were once students themselves.


5. Be Yourself


Courtesy of Kyle Eilenfeldt


You’ve heard this time and time again: there’s no one on Earth like you.


What these well meaning people won’t tell you is that they expect you to fit into their idea of success.  They don’t mean to present themselves that way.  Unfortunately, their words provide more harm than good, especially when approaching the uncertainties of the future through the eyes of a young, scared and hesitant student.  A lot of these people forget what it was like to make a huge decision like attending a higher learning institute, regardless of age (Personally, I didn’t finish university until I was pregnant with my 3rd and final child – so I am NO ONE to judge you).  Honestly, I sincerely believe certain expectations are imposed on young people to fit a mold that just doesn’t suit their long term goals.


Here’s another bomb: Perfection is an illusion.  My ideas of “perfect” most likely differ greatly from yours.  Perfection itself is a relative term.  Judges aren’t looking for perfect.  They’re looking for your best.  Most importantly, they’re observing how well you take direction under pressure.


My friend, most people aren’t lucky enough to be in your shoes.  You’ll be under an insurmountable amount of pressure at a young age and you’ll experience a TON of anxiety while filling out your applications and performing your song itinerary to the jury.  Before bearing your soul to the judges, embody your anxious mind with gratitude and positivity.  Regardless of the outcome, so many universities exist that provide meaningful and valuable education that fit your academic goals.  You’ll find something you like, thanks to YOUR diligent research and YOUR audition experience.


6. Have a Blast!


Be yourself, you fabulous and fierce so and so


You may fall flat on your face during your audition rounds, but, please, don’t worry.  Many institutions all over the world are more than willing to take a student as unique as you.  If you didn’t get accepted to your first choice, it’s not the end of the world.  As you progress during your studies, you’ll begin to fully grasp that not everything will go your way all the time.


During these times of struggle, your adaptiveness, objectiveness and maturity really shine.  That’s what it takes to be a true original and consummate professional.


Go get ’em, kid.



Editor’s note: This blog post is about preparing for auditions.  If you’re interested in learning how to stay debt free during your academic journey through university, please review the following blog post written by a fantastic blog, “Get Rich Slowly:” https://www.getrichslowly.org/paying-for-college-a-high-school-students-quest-to-stay-debt-free/

This post will help guide you through the scary labyrinth funding your university studies.  Enjoy!

Kat DaVille

Kat DaVille is a professional drummer, facilitator, instructor, and recording artist for nearly 2 decades. She has three gorgeous daughters and a loving husband, who also plays guitar (surprise, surprise). When she's not hitting skins, she's hitting bags while wearing a second degree black belt. See that, kids? Dreams do come true.

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