Looking back…some wisdom from our 1st-years

by members of Juilliard’s 1st-year class

We recently asked some of our first year students to offer some words of wisdom to our Blog readers.  We said to them:

What is one piece of advice you would give to current applicants to your major, or one thing that you wish you had known as you began your application?

And here’s how they responded:

Try your best to not over stress about the process and auditions. Do your best work and try to relax. K.S. Dance

Choose a monologue that makes you feel special. Because if it doesn’t make you feel special, you won’t appear all that special. R.S. Drama

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. S.T. Horn

I would recommend focusing very hard on the pre-screening and making sure your first impression is a good one. I used a high quality camera to record my pre-screening and did the entire tape in one continuous shot. J.V. Percussion

Always remember that the Juilliard faculty is looking for talent and potential, not a perfect audition or performance. Don’t fixate on making sure every note is right if it means hindering your musical capabilities. C.W. Piano

At music schools, the fundamentals are absolutely crucial. I can’t emphasize enough just how important it was to get REALLY nit-picky about intonation while I was preparing for auditions, for instance. Good luck! C.Z. Violin

College and Pre-College

by Caeli Smith, 1st-year violinist

During my last two years of high school, I was a student in Juilliard’s Pre-College Program, which meant, among other things, getting up at 6 AM every Saturday morning to travel to 65th and Broadway from my hometown, Philadelphia. Despite the early mornings and the four hours spent on the New Jersey Turnpike each week, I absolutely loved Pre-College. I adored my teachers and made tons of new friends that shared my passion for music – and getting to spend part of my weekend in New York City wasn’t bad either. Like many of the other seniors in my Pre-College class, I hoped to be accepted to the college division and continue my studies at Juilliard. We never saw much of the college students during our invasion on Saturdays. In fact, I’d been told more than once that they avoided the music building like the plague on that particular day of the week (which, only one month into my first year, I already understand completely). The college students always seemed to hold a certain mystique for me – how glamorous and exciting it must be to live right on Lincoln Center, and perform as a member of the Juilliard Orchestra on stages such as Avery Fisher Hall (and even Carnegie Hall!) I looked up to these alluring, accomplished individuals and hoped to become one myself. Even though I came to the school every week, I had a feeling that being in the college was a completely different experience. And I was completely right.

My first days as a college student at Juilliard were formidable, but once I settled in and made some new friends, I felt right at home. Getting to know the other students in the dorm was one of the best parts of orientation – now my friends included not only musicians, but dancers and actors as well! My roommate and I (we live the 23rd floor of the residence building – with a great view!) bonded quickly and have a ton of fun with the other girls in our suite. But my fabulous colleagues are only one part of what makes Juilliard so great. As part of the Juilliard Orchestra, we have the opportunity to work with incredible guest conductors such as James Levine and Alan Gilbert (I’ll be playing Mahler’s 9th symphony under him next spring). Later this month, students from the Sydney Conservatorium will unite with students from Juilliard for a special joint performance in Alice Tully Hall. As for location, you couldn’t ask for a better place to live as a young, developing artist – we’re surrounded by the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic – and it’s easy to get cheap, student rush tickets to incredible performances. And there are, of course, tons of other perks to living in Lincoln Center – within my first month, I’ve already gotten to see models strutting around during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and caught glimpses of Blake Lively and Leighton Meester while Gossip Girl was being filmed outside of the Met, right next door!

My perspective of Juilliard has completely changed as a college student. The offices, hallways, and classrooms that I hadn’t used or known about at Pre-College had before seemed daunting and scary. But I quickly realized that the entire administration is made of friendly, helpful people, and that fellow students are exactly the kind of people that I always wanted to be around in college – wonderful, talented individuals who are wholly passionate about their art. I know there are many Pre-College students in their senior year of high school who are interested in applying to Juilliard, and I couldn’t encourage you enough. However much you may love Juilliard now, it won’t compare to your experiences as a college student. Now that I’m here as one of them, I can’t imagine myself in a better place – and I couldn’t be happier!