College Forms: List Instrument Maker and Date?

February 2, 2012 at 12:18 AM · So, I'm planning on majoring in music in college (still a few years away). But I'm one of those students that do a lot of research ahead of time. I'm looking at a form that a school requires to be sent in about auditions and audition repertoire. It asks all the standard questions about how long you've studied, a list of teachers and current ensembles, ect.

However, there was one question that stood out to me in particular. They asked string applicants to include a maker and date of the instrument. I know the date, but not the maker. How important is the instrument itself for a college audition form?

Replies (46)

February 2, 2012 at 01:08 AM · Maybe they check your ability to pay for your schooling that way? :P

February 2, 2012 at 02:48 AM · Maybe just list the decade or the century?

February 2, 2012 at 04:50 AM · Maybe it's to figure out if you're "serious." I can't think of another reason really. Tell them you made it yourself in high school wood shop class.

February 2, 2012 at 04:52 AM · Offer to tell them about your instrument if they tell you about their job placement rates after graduation.

February 2, 2012 at 06:17 AM · Looks as if the "system" wants to put you in a socio-economic group. Since it would be so easy to ask you what instrument you play at an audition, when the panel could assess whether or not your instrument did you justice, it seems ridiculous to ask in advance.

You should be awarded an audition on the basis of a "ladder" of prior assessments under exam conditions, not on the basis of "bling".

Everyone will "massage" a cv when making an application. Put in "G. Rocca 1852" violin ("Stradivari" would be over-kill! ) and "Voirin" bow on the form, then announce on arrival at the audition that, regrettably, those items were stolen only last week .....

February 2, 2012 at 07:21 AM · "Looks as if the "system" wants to put you in a socio-economic group."

This would be easy simply by looking at the applicant's zip code. I have a feeling it's just curiosity on the part of whatever faculty member was in on designing the form. A quirk, just like on the medical forms you have to fill out where there's a prominent line for the date at the top, and then another line to fill in the date at the bottom. Someone designed it, no one really checked it, and there it is.

February 2, 2012 at 07:30 AM · Tell us which school!

February 2, 2012 at 08:22 AM · My violin's a Strad. It says so on the (printed) label - with the date added in Biro.

More seriously, I'm playing on a Chinese instrument because it sounds far better than my £6000 one. And so are some other professional players i know.

February 2, 2012 at 08:52 AM · "This would be easy simply by looking at the applicant's zip code".

Agreed. Should have thought of that ! Could it be that someone has a mind-boggling statistics project, leading to a scholarly analysis of instruments allegedly owned versus those actually brought along to auditions, correlating the data with background versus social pretension, ambition versus hard-headedness, and subjected to a truthfulness filter ? Who can tell what high academic honors await the compiler of the thesis !

I await the "Strad" article along with the big announcement: Only XY% of college hopefuls boast a violin above intermediate level ........ and expect to see photo-shop enhanced photos of the author of the published paper resplendent in glorious academic robes.

February 2, 2012 at 02:44 PM · I remember having to put the maker and year of my instrument when filling out my Eastman audition form. There were similar blanks for woodwind and brass players (which also included stuff like mouthpiece brand/type, etc.).

I'm really not sure how they actually use this information.

EDIT: I have a lesson later today, I'll try to remember to ask my teacher why they ask about applicants' instruments.

February 2, 2012 at 03:06 PM · Maybe its benign - to figure out how many students are likely to need a loaner?

You could misinterpret it as 'what would you like to be sponsored with'. Then put down "David Burgess, 2012, sawzall" hehehe.

February 2, 2012 at 04:14 PM · I saw something on the news about questions on applications that feel sound oddball. One interviewee said something along the lines of it being an effort to get students to reveal things that make them distinctive. I'd have a lot of trouble with that question, myself, since it seems to be "loaded" in socio-economic terms. BTW, these days few colleges loan out instruments. They may have a decrepit fleet of stuff they rent out for short-term methods classes, ie woodwind seminar for everyone who isn't a wind player. Better quality instruments for majors, if there are ANY, go to big-talent grad students or such.

February 2, 2012 at 04:48 PM · Tell them it's the one you were loaned by the middle school music department, with a $35 Glasser plastic bow. They'll be amazed at the sound you can pull out of it.

February 2, 2012 at 05:19 PM · It does seem odd that they request this information.

Identify the school, and I'll call them and ask why they want it, and won't mention your name.

February 2, 2012 at 05:28 PM · What would happen if you were to simply write "Faciebat, 1727" ??

February 2, 2012 at 05:31 PM · FYI some zip codes are more socio-economically diverse than others. You know it could be just idle curiosity on the part of someone with enough influence to control what gets put on the application form. I think you should take David up on his offer to find out for you though.

February 2, 2012 at 05:47 PM · In my years with academic bureaucracy, information gathering is NEVER benign.

If they asked, "do you own your own instrument?" that would be a reasonable question within many of the previous posters' suggestions. WHAT instrument seems pretty nosy. {Maybe I'm prejudiced by the fact that my viola was stolen out of a music building at a major university music dept. I'll never tell anyone again what I have.}

February 2, 2012 at 06:07 PM · I can imagine bureaucrats reading the description of the instruments:

"A Klotz violin dated 1736", followed by WOWWWW!!! Fantastic! Great!!! Wow!!!

"A Poggi violin made in 1970", followd by a silence or someone wispering "poor musician, he can't buy a good old violin"!!!!

February 2, 2012 at 07:57 PM · "What would happen if you were to simply write "Faciebat, 1727" ?? "

Or you could say that "my instrument was good enough for Heifetz."

(OR Goodenough for Boris ...)

(OR "too good for your lousy school ...)

(OR mind your own ***ing business)

February 2, 2012 at 08:11 PM · Hmmm, a few years ago i would have been able to impress the faculty with my Alfonso Della Corte violin built around 1870. Excellent sound, really dark lower register. Except it turned out to be a German workshop fiddle. Then there is the Italian violin with label of an amateur luthier which turned out to be Chinese. Excellent fiddle though, beautifully made.

And what if your big name fiddle was certified by D. Machold?

So in order to be fair and well informed the institution would have to get a big name appraiser to make sure the instruments and bows are what they are supposed to be.

February 2, 2012 at 08:57 PM · I wonder how many of the returning forms say 'Stradivarius'. I would be pretty funny if you actually HAD a strad - but got rejected because they are all assumed to be fakes.

February 2, 2012 at 09:25 PM · That is the weirdest question, I've never been asked that in an audition let alone on a form. It sounds like the sort of question that's asked during youth orchestra sectionals.

February 2, 2012 at 10:13 PM · If the school is indeed Eastman, tell them you play an . . . Eastman!

February 3, 2012 at 09:03 PM · Brian Lee, if you could please remember to ask, that would be great.

It actually was Eastman's form that I found it on. Ironically enough, my first violin was an Eastman, too.

February 3, 2012 at 09:33 PM · Hi Caitlin. Your initial question is a good one. Brian's offer is a good one . ALSO David Burgess offer to find out for you is well worth taking up. As one of the World's most respected luthiers he has all it takes to get the full answer.

I don't know about the USA but here in the UK the music colleges often have quite extensive collections of decent instruments to lend to students who might need to upgrade what they play on. It could be that the question is quite benign and aimed at planning allocation of college instruments.

Good luck with your future plans.

February 3, 2012 at 09:52 PM · Melvin, that's a good point. Still they don't ask that here in uk, or didn't. Perhaps I'm not as young as I think

February 4, 2012 at 01:32 AM · ... Whoops, I forgot to ask, sorry guys. I kind of had a half really good, half traumatic lesson.

February 4, 2012 at 02:01 AM · Hannah, perhaps the process does indeed operate here in the UK, but in a far less formal manner – a deserving student who might one day be in need of a better violin is quietly monitored – as only we Brits know how ;) – and a suitable instrument magically appears on loan in the fullness of time.

But who am I even to imagine all this.

February 4, 2012 at 12:12 PM · But surely, though, having a noteworthy instrument wouldn't really be the point of judging who might be suitable for an upgrade in the future. I would have thought hearing and seeing the player complete with violin and ability would be the first step. Many 'ordinary' instruments have managed to surprise listeners and players alike, which I guess is why they are still being played.

No, methinks the question on the form needs following up. Even if a good reason is given, the result could still cause trouble if the information were to leak.

February 4, 2012 at 03:08 PM · Melvin, I have no reason to think that they will feel any obligation to give me an answer. All I can do is try.

I might have a better chance by speaking to someone I know a little bit. Anyone know if Steve Doane is still there?

February 4, 2012 at 04:16 PM · Trevor, yes that is often the way hear, and there are various charities and scholarships that teachers and institutes will encourage students to apply for. But asking on a form seems to be putting the cart before the horse. I don't think it's a huge issue but still a little baffling

February 4, 2012 at 04:45 PM · Hannah, I agree with you. It didn't seem like that big a deal to me, either- I'm just naturally curious.

David, if you were willing to try, that would be great.

Brian, its fine. I know, some lessons aren't the best time to ask irrelevant questions..

Thanks for all the comments, everyone

February 4, 2012 at 09:54 PM · Yup, Steve Doane is still here, my teacher plays chamber music with him quite often. His studio produces scarily good players.

February 6, 2012 at 02:51 PM · I spoke to someone at the admissions office this morning. What I was told is that this question is on the auditions form, and the information is used to assist in evaluating the player, such as how much is due to the player, and how much is due to the instrument.

So I guess the strategy would be to say that you have a horrible instrument, and then they'll think you must be pretty hot if you can make it sound good. LOL

February 6, 2012 at 03:02 PM · I guess it might have kind of helped that I was using a Gliga at the time of my auditions, then...

February 7, 2012 at 12:28 AM · Thanks for finding out for me (:

February 7, 2012 at 01:07 AM · That's what I was guessing in my head. Sounds like you could put down "VSO" and play it to your advantage! ;)

February 7, 2012 at 03:21 AM · or 'made it myself' :)

February 7, 2012 at 04:00 AM · I'm so glad I found this post. One of my colleges I applied to had this question on the application as well. I decided to be honest, and made them aware of not-great advanced-student model viola that I currently play on. I recently bought a nice new bow, but my family can't afford a new viola at the level I need right now, so I told the college this as well. My audition went well, so I'm hoping that the college realizes that I am very capable of making good music, no matter what kind of viola I have.

February 7, 2012 at 04:59 AM · Wow... I am amazed at the nonsense of this school. Caitlin.... what is the school? Seriously... horrible.

February 7, 2012 at 05:16 AM · What is the violin equivalent to playing "air guitar" ??

February 7, 2012 at 02:43 PM · ...faking it in orchestra...;)

February 8, 2012 at 07:12 PM · ...faking it in orchestra...;)

But not everybody plays air guitar!

February 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM · Good one, ;).

February 8, 2012 at 10:24 PM · Everyone knows the violin equivalent of playing "air guitar" is . . . . . .. .. . . . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

playing VIOLA!

February 8, 2012 at 11:07 PM · My good friend, teacher and guide to violin playing can make a shop instrument sound like a Strad. He has sold more violins by playing them than I can count but it is all a "scam". When the buyers (frequently professional musicians) get them home they are frequently disappointed.

Violinist listening to teacher play: "Wow what is that"

Me standing on the sidelines: "That is him, don't get your hopes up."

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