“I’m Lost And I’m Found”*

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

Hey y’all, this is Senior Assistant Director for Music Admissions Monia C. Estima again, blogging at you from the blustery Upper West Side. I schedule all the March Music Entrance Auditions, and that’s what today’s blog is about.

When I begin scheduling, I basically become a hermit and hide away from my colleagues, my loved ones, and all that I hold dear. (Except for music – I crank the alt rock and new wave until I’m mostly deaf. Last year’s play list included The Bravery, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Depeche Mode, The Smithereens, and Duran Duran. This year I’ll be grooving to Arctic Monkeys, B.R.M.C., and Hard-Fi as well.)

In past years, I’ve posted a sign on my office door which reads as follows:

Scheduling Auditions – Please Do Not Disturb

(Unless there’s a fire.)

(In which case, you should be running out of here, madly dialing “911″ on your cellular.)

(You’re not still standing there reading this, are you?)

This year, though, I’ll likely do the bulk of my scheduling from home (no, you can’t have the number) so I can slip in some Guitar Hero practice before my son gets home from school (there’s an 80s version!!!!!).

“But how does she do it?” you may ask, “How does she fit over 1300 instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, and conductors into a measly seven-day audition period?” Well, I wish I could tell you; after a few hours of scheduling I experience fugue states which eventually find me at a Starbucks begging for a Grande Toffee Nut Latte, with no memory of how I got there or how many days I’ve been MIA. But I’m told it usually takes me an afternoon (or a day, depending on the size of the department) to schedule all of a particular area. I first schedule folks who’ve put in requests for particular dates on which their departments hear auditions, then “special situations,” and then all other applicants.

Departmental audition dates: Certain days are selected for certain departments because those are the only dates the faculty are available to adjudicate the auditions – no faculty available, no auditions. With some departments – this year, for example, Double Bass – there really was only one day during audition week that we could gather the full department to hear auditions. Tearful pleas for a different date don’t fall on deaf ears, they just can’t be accommodated because faculty members can’t make it. (Honest! I’m a Sagittarius – I cannot tell a lie! Not convincingly, at least…)

Special Situations: OK, well, the above paragraph notwithstanding, I’m now going to sing you a song I wrote called, “The Not-All-Faculty-Members-In-A-Department-Can-Be-Present-For-All- Audition-Dates Blues” (in D-minor, which is a great key for me). Some departments, Violin for instance, have upwards of ten studio faculty members and, because they are premier performing artists as well as teachers, they often have numerous engagements which conflict with audition week. Therefore, out of five potential audition dates, a teacher may be able to attend only two. But don’t fret – my absolute top priority in scheduling auditions is ensuring that your first-choice for a teacher is present at your audition, since, if you are admitted, Juilliard makes every effort to assign you to that studio.

I’m often asked, “Is it possible to change someone’s audition date once it’s been scheduled?”  OMG!  I often reply, “You’ve NO IDEA how difficult that is!” Why is it so hard? Let’s pretend I’m about to schedule – oh, let’s say, oboe. Suppose I’ve got only 50 audition slots to fill. And suppose exactly 50 oboists apply. Once I’ve scheduled them all, all of the slots will be full. My Admissions colleagues will then process the data I provide and notify the oboists of their audition dates/times. And then the oboists (who may possibly be negotiating OTHER auditions in the area) will book their air travel and lodging, secure in the knowledge that their Juilliard audition dates are set. It’s not Juilliard’s policy to ask someone to switch dates with another applicant, thus forcing them to re-book all of the above (and possibly lose hundreds of dollars in the process!). The only way we can change an applicant’s audition date is if someone vacates a slot (by either cancelling the audition or asking for a change that jibes with someone else’s change request).

But on a lighter note (B-flat), once I’ve scheduled all 24 music departments (and my boss, the Associate Dean of Admissions, has rescued me from Starbucks – but not until she’s made me get her a Tall, half-decaf, half-regular, skim Misto), I can catch a bit of a breather. Until, of course, it’s time to focus on audition room scheduling and generating audition forms! (Rumble of thunder, tritones screech in the distance)

*The title for this blog was gleefully ripped from the Duran Duran song “Hungry Like The Wolf.”