As I Schedule Music Auditions…

By Monia C. Estima, Senior Assistant Director for Music Admissions

As I schedule the 2010 Music Division auditions it occurs to me that:

  • Surf rock is really groovy background music for reading over a thousand audition date request e-mails and plopping “X” applicant into “Y” audition slot. In particular, I like the Aqua Velvets, who are a self-described “…fascinating blend of spaghetti western, shimmering psychedelia, pristine surf, latin rhythms, mysterious faraway places, and a tongue-in-cheek dash of lounge.” Their album “Guitar Noir” was in heavy rotation on my WMP this season and I particularly enjoyed “Subterranea,” “Casbah Club,” and the title track. Please note: these guys are a band formed in the 80s dipping into, and merrily messing with, a musical style from the 60s. One of the pioneers of more “proper” surf rock is Dick Dale, “The King of the Surf Guitar.” (You know the main theme from Pulp Fiction? That’s his version of “Misirlou,” which is a Greek folk/pop song. Who knew? *I* didn’t!)
  • Not all applicants take advantage of their chance to request their preferred audition dates when the opportunity exists. When I joined Juilliard in 2004 there was no such system in place; they just scheduled applicants and hoped that everything worked out for the best. It often didn’t. I got over 100 applicants asking for audition date changes that were impossible to make because the schedules were full. And we didn’t feel right asking folks who’d already booked their travel/lodging for their auditions with us to change their plans/lose money. So we didn’t ask them to–we’d wait for audition slots to open up from others’ cancelled auditions. Unfortunately, that meant the people who had audition conflicts sometimes waited till just three weeks before audition week to learn if they could audition on different dates. Those were difficult times for all of us, which is why I was more than happy to install this “audition date request” system. It’s a lot of work to get through in the first couple of weeks in January but it’s satisfying for me to do it, because I know I’m making life easier for our applicants. So when, say, 80% of applicants in a given music department put in their requests, I have to wonder what’s up with the other 20% who didn’t (some of whom then e-mail me in a panic because NOW they’ve got audition conflicts). Seriously, what’s up with that, dudes?
  • Applicants should really consider creating a simple, professional, e-mail account to use in communications with the schools to which they’ve applied. For example, I would go with something like, “[email protected]” I would probably not include in my professional e-mail address things like “booty” or “(some type of)–licious” or “(insert instrument)–diva” or “(insert instrument)–God.” Just sayin’.
  • Some applicants don’t believe us when we tell them that they can’t audition on a date outside of audition week. Every year we get a handful of e-mails from folks who say they can’t audition in the first week of March (which is almost always when we have our music auditions). Just so you all know – that’s Juilliard’s Spring Break, so it’s pretty much the only time that we have space available for auditions (no classes! no performances! no students!), faculty available to listen (since they’re not teaching), and in general the resources to hear 1,400 folks. While it may not be the best time for all applicants (after all, what would be the perfect time for 1,400 people?), we don’t arrange special auditions, to be fair to the vast majority of applicants who moved mountains in order to audition during the originally scheduled dates.

O.K., that’s about all I’ve got time for right now; still have a few hundred e-mail requests to get through. Hope y’all enjoy the surf music and know that we look forward to welcoming you in March. Cowabunga, brah!