Student Corner: How to Prepare for Successful College Entrance Auditions

by Grace Mason

Hello, future music majors! I am in my third year of college as a music major with a focus in piano performance.  If you are planning on being a music major in college, you have to first get accepted into the school (via your paper application, where they evaluate your grades, test scores and other application materials), and second, you also must be accepted separately into the music program.  To be accepted into the music program, you’ll have to give an audition in front of the faculty of the music department.  The requirements of the audition will typically be posted on their website.  I gave auditions at 4-5 different schools, each with their own piece selections and requirements. This is a big step, as most students only perform at bi-annual recitals up to this time and will now have to perform at each college they wish to audition for.  I’d like to share with you 5 helpful tips for preparing successfully so you’ll have a better chance of being accepted into the program of your dreams!

Tip #1- Prepare yourself for this audition with as many practice performances as possible! Invite all of your friends, your grandparents, and family over to be an audience for you, and perform around your local area as well. Sometimes working on a piece alone in your practice space can feel very different than playing for an audience, so this will give you the chance to get used to how it feels to be listened to while you play!

Tip #2- Make sure that you choose audition pieces that you LOVE.  I was passionate about several of mine and it helped me so much when it came to practicing.  You will need to know these pieces inside and out, so make sure that you will not be dreading them by the time you have to audition; you do not want them to get sloppy. You’re also more likely to give a musical and convincing performance when you enjoy and are invested in the piece.

Tip #3-This is applicable all of the time, but super important as you go into your auditions: LEARN YOUR PIECES ASAP. Do not cram learning a sonata a few weeks or even a month before.  Prepare yourself well; you should only be making simple tweaks and polishing your pieces as you get close to audition time. Try memorizing in small sections as you learn your pieces, rather than learning them and then trying to memorize them afterwards. I find that memorizing as I am beginning a piece saves me a lot of time in the end, and makes my piece so much stronger.

Tip #4- Sign up for the earliest audition times of the year so that you can relax and not stress about how you did.  You don’t want to be at the end of the semester senior year stressing about auditions, maybe just your senior recital.

Tip #5- HAVE FUN during your audition and choose the school that you feel most comfortable with. There are so many schools out there with great music programs and great professors.  Remember these are going to be your instructors for the next four years.  Make sure you are going to be getting the music experience that is going to grow you the best in your musical skills and abilities. Majoring in music was a great decision and I have loved it. It is a tough major, but it is very rewarding. I hope this helps you in your next step in becoming the next Beethoven, or at least helps you in the next step toward your musical education and career.

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