Friday, September 10, 2010

Preparing For College Auditions

Ok, yet another question (yes, people DO actually ask these!)...This one is on college auditions and how to prepare for them...

"Are the college auditions for music courses usually very difficult? how much practice am i supposed to do a day in order to pass with flying colours? i am asking this because i am now currently very busy with school because of football season and i am having a hard time to balance my social life,having good grades and devoting my time to the drums. i usually have about an hour to practice a day, or none for some crucially busy days. is there a way to make the best use of this one hour? my practice schedule is usually just warming up with rudiments for 10-15 minutes, and working through exercises from books, and since i am reall into jazz drumming now, i just practice exercises from jazz books. is this the right way to go ? or am i supposed to balance out the genres while practicing?"

The college audition's the skinny from my viewpoint...

You need to find out EXACTLY what they'll be wanting to hear from you. Track the professors down and talk to them, get the sheet that they should be giving out on audition guidelines and criteria, talk to other students within the program and ask them what theirs was like...anything you can do to get as much info about the audition as possible.

Once you have that info, then you can devise a plan. I know what it's like to be impossibly busy and still have preparations that need to be made for a show or audition. Sit down with your accumulated list of what they'll want and begin to make your own list...

List 1:
Everything they're wanting you to know

List 2:
Everything they're wanting you to know in order from hardest to easiest.

List 3:
All the things you don't know that you'll need to work on for the audition.

List 4:
Al of the things you're not worried about for the audition.

Once you have those written down (yes, WRITE them down) you can start to knock them out. The thing I would always get hung up with was I would practice like I always do, just work on getting better in general...not what you need to do for this one. You need to decide on how much time you'll have to practice and then prioritize that practice other words, here's a sample criteria list...

-Know all 28 rudiments
-Have one prepared piece
-sight reading
-trade fours over a standard jazz tune of your choice.

This is a very short's how I would knock it out...

Day 1: 2 hours...

-half an hour on first 2 rudiments
-first 10 measures of prepared piece learned
-sight read for 15 minutes
-all remainder of time spent on ideas for trading fours

Day 2: 1 and a half hours

-Half an hour on next two rudiments, 15 minutes reviewing old rudiments
-memorize first 10 measures of prepared piece, learn next 10 measures.
-sight read same pieces as yesterday, noting any improvements...move on to new sight reading material.
-trade fours using only the melody of the song as a guide.

So you begin to see how you're working on NOTHING but the audition material and you're being VERY specific with how and what you spend your time on. This is exactly how I prepared for my senior recital...I spent a whole semester doing exactly what I did above. And I'm happy to say that I KILLED the recital...people talked about it for weeks! I'm not tooting my own horn, I'm just saying that all of my work paid off!

Be sure and plan out your time so that you have all of the material learned a couple of weeks before hand so that by the time the auditions get there, you'll be playing the stuff in your sleep. DO NOT go into the audition and try things you're not 100% comfortable with...nerves usually get the best of you in those situations and you freeze up...I'd rather play something easier and play it well than to mess up something more complicated.

Hope this helps...if you need some more ideas, don't hesitate to let me know!

Stephen T.


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