We’ve written quite a few blogs about auditioning, and with our big Audition Week coming up in two short weeks, I thought it would be a good time to give some simple, practical tips that applicants can put into use for their Juilliard audition. Do search through our past blogs as well for some good suggestions – particularly past January and February blogs . And check back – I hope that we will post every few days between now and March!
Audition Tip #1: Choose your first piece wisely
At 90% of auditions, you will be allowed to choose your first piece. This shouldn’t be a surprise – don’t decide in the moment! Think about all of the repertoire that you have prepared, and choose your first piece based on the following:
- You can play it in your sleep. No kidding. It’s in your fingers, in your body, and even the worst nerves will not cause a major crash-and-burn.
- You love the piece. Part of the job of the first piece is to get you settled – comfortable in an unfamiliar room, with the faculty panel staring at you – it’s not a situation that’s ideal for playing your best! But if you start with something that you love, you’ll create the mental space to relax and communicate the music – and after all, that’s what music is all about – communication.
Now here’s the tip in reverse:
- Don’t start with a flashy, showy piece just to impress. Show us your musicianship first, fingers after that. We’d rather you play something simple absolutely gorgeously than play something fiendishly difficult and not play it well (see #1 above). Save fiendishly difficult for a few minutes in, after you’ve had time to relax a bit! If the faculty want to hear it, they’ll ask for it.
- Don’t start with something obscure. There is absolutely no advantage to playing something that nobody knows – and frankly, it can be a disadvantage. In the relatively small amount of time of an audition, the faculty have a lot of information to gather about your playing. If they don’t know the piece, and depending on the specific piece, they may not learn much of anything – and then you’ve lost some valuable minutes! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be interested in new repertoire for your instrument – just consider not starting your audition with it. Again, if the faculty are curious to hear it, they'll ask for it.