By Lee Cioppa, Associate Dean for Admissions, with guest blogger Heidi Castleman, Juilliard viola faculty
A few weeks ago, I spent an hour in a van with Heidi Castleman, a longtime, greatly esteemed member of our viola faculty, on our way to a Juilliard event. We were talking about applicants, about audition preparation, and about the gap between information that we can provide on our website, our application, and our print materials, and the actual level of detail and advisement that is needed to prepare an audition. I had had the idea to use this blog to provide some of this to prospective students, and had intended to invite faculty, current students and alumni to give audition tips for an entry in the winter. Heidi commented that if we really wanted to give audition preparation advice, there were some things that applicants should begin work on sooner rather than later. So, I immediately invited her to write something in December as a guest blogger! She emailed me these tips below, and while I didn’t edit her writing, you’ll see some of my comments to make the tips a little less viola-centric.
Ten Recommended Audition Preparation Strategies:
1. Check the audition requirements carefully.
2. Select as audition material pieces that you love and want to share with an audience.
3. If you are unsure if your program matches the requirements, ask for clarification.
4. As you prepare your audition program, record yourself (audio and video if available); it will allow you to be your own best teacher!
5. Study the piano scores to your works carefully, so your performances will reflect that you are playing the “whole” score.
6. Perform all of your audition pieces in concert prior to taking your audition. (I just have to echo this as so, so important – perform your repertoire as much as possible before your audition, so you know exactly how you will react when you are nervous!)
7. When possible, arrange your auditions in reverse order of your priorities, i.e. last choice school first, first choice last. Experience in auditioning can help strengthen your ability to communicate your program well.
8. Make sure your instrument and bow are in good working order (e.g., the pegs turn smoothly, the bow is recently rehaired). (valves are working, keypads are in good shape, etc.)
9. It probably does not hurt to practice in whatever shoes and/or outfit you plan to wear if you do not customarily play the viola (insert your instrument here) in them.
10. Remember as you anticipate playing for the viola (Juilliard) faculty that a) we love music and b) we care about your music-making, or we would not be devoting ourselves to teaching.
I also want to invite you to use the “comment” feature of this blog if you have some tips you’d like to share with fellow applicants! (See below – you can click through the blue “No comment” to add a comment – or if there are comments already, you’ll see “# comments”, and click to read or add your comment.)