Sunday, February 8, 2015

3 College Audition Tips for Composers

‘Tis the season when hopeful composition students audition at colleges and universities for undergraduate and graduate degree programs! As you pack your bags for interviews at prospective schools, I’d like to offer three tips:

1. Preparation

  • Pack a portfolio of your works. Include the pieces you submitted earlier in the audition process, but also add in anything that you’ve recently completed. It is a good idea to bring your CV (including your list of works) as well.
  • Know about the school you’re visiting. Do your research in advance. Check out the composition program’s website to see what kinds of opportunities the program offers: student composition recitals, large ensemble reading sessions, in-school performance opportunities and collaborations, entrepreneurial activities, electro-acoustic studios, and so on.
  • Learn about the composition faculty too – check out their personal websites, listen to their music, see how active they are outside the university with commissions and performances.
  • Prepare some questions that you have for the composition faculty about the composition program. Remember, you are auditioning them as much as they are auditioning you.

 2. Presentation

  • How you present yourself and your work counts. Treat the audition as you would a business interview; dress to look professional, but in a manner that you can exhibit your personality.
  • Make sure your scores are in great shape with clean notation, your scores bound, and with cardstock covers.

 3. Punctuality

  • Be early to your audition. Figure out where you need to go in advance so that you don’t arrive last minute (or late) and out-of-breath. Budget a few minutes to collect yourself before you go into your interview.
  • Be punctual at all events the school schedules for you. Schools work hard to give prospective students a good idea of what your college experience would be like – they usually include a reception or luncheon with current students, as well as tours of the campus. If you skip these extra events, not only do you lose out on gathering information that will help you make an informed decision, but you also run the risk of appearing disinterested in the school.

One parting thought - while you’re visiting each school, try to tour the town. This is where you’re going to spend the next several years of your life, so make sure you feel comfortable with the environment. If you’ve got the time, check out what kinds of cultural events are happening while you’re there, or find a good restaurant to sample the local cuisine. Happy auditioning!