Do you even pre-screen, bro?
Depending on how you look at it, pre-screening can be another challenge or joy of audition season. For me, it was a challenge. I remember the most difficult part of this process was keeping all of the requirements straight. Each school had a different set of criteria for their pre-screens and I could never keep track of who wanted what. Whether your pre-screen recordings are a confidence booster or a self-confidence disaster, you’re going to get through it! As soon as the live audition invitations start rolling in, it will all be worth it.
My favorite part about pre-screenings were trying to explain the concept of to my non-music friends. The idea of having to send in an audition tape in order to get a live audition was so foreign to them. I found pleasure in reminding my friends that they had nothing to complain compared to the stress of applying to art school.
Being an occasionally glass-half-empty sort of person, I HATED my pre-screening videos (then again, what artist is ever truly happy with their art). I actually ended up recording mine twice, because my first round was so unbearable. I have no insider information on the admissions process or what is looked for in a pre-screening video, however, After stressing myself out to make a perfect recording, I quickly learned that the less stress was better. Originally, I did my pre-screen recording in a recording studio. After hearing the recordings, I felt like I could have produced a recording of good quality on my own for much less money, and that the high quality studio recording over-emphasized my flaws. I ended up recording a redo on my portable microphone that I bought on Amazon and creating a recording that I was much happier with. I learned an important lesson: Don’t overdo it! Create a recording that shows the best quality of voice or instrument you can produce. No frills needed. As far as I know, spending hundreds of dollars on a studio session doesn’t win you any brownie points with the faculty, and studio reverb and other sound enhancements are explicitly frowned-upon in audition criteria for most schools. Take it easy: if you think you’re going overboard, you probably are. (Again, this isn’t to discriminate against any time of recording. Do what makes you sound the best!)
SHAMELESS PLUG FOR JUILLIARD:
One of the most fantastic things about Juilliard is their inclusiveness and commitment to finding the best talent. Of all of the schools I applied to, Juilliard was the only school that didn’t ask for a video recording. In doing this, the people who review audition materials remove any opportunity for judgement based on anything other than your performance (obviously, this isn’t the case for dancers because it is difficult to judge how well someone dances if you can’t see them dance). You can be confident that Juilliard is would be admitting you based on your ability, not just your good looks (or lack of, in my case).