Written by Karen Rile
Published: December 5, 2013 at 2:27 PM [UTC]
A few years ago, a young violinist contacted me in a panic. According to Facebook his friends had been notified of their Juilliard audition dates. But he’d heard nothing. Could it be an email snafu? An administrative mix-up?
“I’m as good a player as Fauntleroy and Punchinella*,” he said. “If they got auditions, I should, too. My recording was excellent—unless it was lost. Do you think they lost my recording?”
I told him it was possible—but I had a sinking feeling about where this was going. Even without having heard his recording or knowing much about his level of playing, it was pretty clear to me that he had failed his prescreen. In a few days he would receive a paper letter in the mail explaining that his application had not progressed to the next level.
“Should I call admissions to see if they lost my application?” he fretted, concerned that they might be irritated, and somehow punish him, if he pestered them. I told him that it could not hurt to call the admissions office—part of their job was to deal with panicking applicants. There was nothing shameful or shocking about his predicament, I reassured him. It happens many times, to many people, year after year.
Then I tried to redirect his thoughts: where else had he applied? Had he heard back from any of them yet? He had not. But over the next few days he was denied auditions at several conservatories. He had spent much of his young life looking forward to these auditions, and now one by one his dreams were dissolving before his eyes.
What do you do?
As for my young friend, he did end up passing one of his pre-screens. And one is really all you need. Over the next few months, he practiced his butt off and won admission to a selective studio in an excellent conservatory. All of his problems, solved! Then, a year or two later, he dropped out and moved to Europe to continue studies there.
Which brings me to my most important point: when you’re young, the path you think you want is the path you can imagine. It’s impossible to see around corners or to guess at the unpredictable, serendipitous things that will happen in your life. But ask any adult you know if they are doing exactly what they hoped and dreamed to do when they were seventeen. Most will tell you that what they’re doing now was not even imaginable to them at seventeen. Most will tell you that, given the choice, they’d pick the life they’re living over the ideal-imagined life they conjured up at seventeen.
It’s a leap of faith, but, then again, you don’t have a choice, anyway. You flunked those pre-screens, but your world isn’t ending. It’s just beginning. It’s yours for the conquering. Go now.
*names have been changed (in case that isn't obvious).
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Click here for a reference page to all of Karen Rile's series: A Parents' Guide to Conservatory Auditions
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