College Audition

September 26, 2017, 8:55 PM · Finally, I'm getting close to college auditions.
I'm looking at three colleges for either violin performance, music education, or a double major with both.
Ball State University
Butler University
All of these are based in Indiana.

Mt rep that I have to pick from is the following:

Mozart Concerto No. 3 (ALL)
Kabalevsky Concerto Mvt. 1
Bach D Minor Allemande and Sarabande
Handel Sonata in E Major (No. 6 I believe)
Kreutzer Etude No. 6 (but I can probably do another one if need be)

I have an idea about what I want to use for each school. I know for IU i will not likely get in for performance, which is why I'm trying for education instead, and hopefully I can switch majors sometime after getting a lot better. But the other schools I am much more confident about auditioning for performance at. I was wondering what I should use. I know what level each school is looking for, but I don't know what to use. My teacher said it is ultimately up to me what I think I can best perform. I want to know if anyone could give me an idea of what would be best to use, and if anyone can give some advice/tips about college auditions.

Replies (31)

September 26, 2017, 9:16 PM · Choose the repertoire that most clearly demonstrates your strengths. Your teacher should be able to explain the pros and cons of each choice. If different schools have different repertoire choices, your teacher should also be able to explain the implications of playing different rep at different schools (since it's more music to prepare).

Also, you should now be taking trial lessons at all three schools, since you are effectively choosing a teacher and not just a school.

September 26, 2017, 9:21 PM · I have not done trial lessons yet nor have I really asked my teacher too much about that stuff, but I am planning on that.
Edited: September 26, 2017, 9:49 PM · You can search the site for similar threads. Also, I don't advise you to play repertoire you hate (excluding etudes).
September 26, 2017, 9:56 PM · You're starting your junior year, right? You're not learning new repertoire this year in preparation for auditions next year? That seems somewhat odd.
September 26, 2017, 10:00 PM · Lydia's advice is excellent, but you might also look around for FB groups or websites for violinists (or music majors in general) at your preferred schools. Current students are your best source of information for future schools.
September 27, 2017, 3:26 AM · I'm starting my senior year. I do have a friend who is a freshman at Ball State. I have talked to her, and that is why I am very confident about auditioning there.
September 29, 2017, 8:39 AM · What are your longer term, post-college plans?

Looking at what you've said, I suspect that music education is a better bet for you. In particular, music education at a better college might be a better option than musical performance at a worse college. People who go on to be professional performers will be playing Mendhelssohn or something at these auditions, and studying at somewhere like Butler probably won't change that. So in your position I would think carefully about whether you are aiming for a career as a classroom teacher or a performer.

September 29, 2017, 9:12 AM · Jacob's background and ambitions were discussed in a previous thread: LINK

Interested to know if your goals have evolved since then, Jacob.

September 29, 2017, 9:59 AM · I have thought quite a bit about it. I'm not 100% certain what I really want to do. I think I'll do performance, but if that doesn't turn out to be what I want to do, I'll switch to education. I would really like to double major in both though.
September 29, 2017, 10:26 AM · Performance is a hard and risky road for even the most polished students to embark on, and you're starting from way behind.

Most people end up working in a field unrelated to their college majors and a four-year-degree is a four-year-degree so I won't tell you not to try, but I do think you should have Plans B, C, and D. Music education is an excellent Plan B (and a better Plan A) *if* you enjoy teaching. If you don't like teaching, the kids will pick up on that, and the daily grind will become unendurable for you.

Good luck!

September 30, 2017, 11:43 AM · If A and B are performance and music-ed, may I suggest that C and D should be something like chemistry and data analytics.
September 30, 2017, 1:33 PM · I agree with Mary Ellen. If you do performance, you're going down a risky path that is already saturated with talented students. Music Ed is fine if you are willing to move where the job is, and if you enjoy teaching in a classroom K-12 setting.
September 30, 2017, 1:42 PM · How difficult is it to go to IU for Education vs Performance? Do they expect the same level for the audition?
September 30, 2017, 4:16 PM · I don't know but when I was at IU 35 years ago, the Mus Ed students were respectable players. This would be a great question for current students.
October 1, 2017, 10:27 AM · Plenty of schools have the same audition requirements for a BM and BME (a quick Google search seems to indicate that IU is one of them) even if the expectations might be different. IU uses the phrase "major concerto", note.

Out of curiosity, does Mozart 3 normally count as a "major concerto"? Is the interpretation of "major concerto" different in a college audition context than it is in a pro orchestra audition context?

(I would expect that Kabalevsky would definitely not count as a major concerto.)

Edited: October 1, 2017, 11:56 AM · Mozart 3 would usually count if not explicitly excluded. But, one needs to play it really well, which means one usually has some romantic concertos and/or paganini also in one's rep.

OP, have you considered taking a gap year and working with a local pro teacher? You could probably beef up your repertoire quite a bit with another year.

With that said, are you planning on playing for a living or do you just want to play while majoring in something else? Given your current rep, trying to go pro seems inadvisable to say the least, unless you have a trust fund to fall back on to supplement teaching.

Studying engineering or math and playing as an amateur would probably be more satisfying.

Edited: October 2, 2017, 2:00 PM · I have tremendous respect for the talent and lifelong dedication and sacrifice of the individuals who are my violin teacher and my kids' violin and cello teachers. After all, without them, we would not have such high quality musical education. However, were I one of them also, I likely would not be able to afford their services.

By the way, all of the elementary-school music teachers in my area were percussion majors in college.

October 2, 2017, 1:46 PM · Paul, including the strings teachers?!
October 2, 2017, 7:01 PM · Aren't elementary-school music teachers usually generalists, teaching group singing, maybe some recorder, maybe some Orff? Where I am, the 5th grade strings are an after-school program taught by middle/high school orchestra directors and/or string specialists.
October 2, 2017, 7:08 PM · To the OP: according to the IU Jacobs School website, all applicants on violin for all programs (which I assume includes the BME) must submit a screening recording online no later than December 1 of this year for admission in fall 2018. Based on your posts here as well as your stated repertoire, I think it is extremely unlikely that you would be invited to do a live audition. I suggest you focus your efforts on the other two schools you mentioned, and keep an open mind for other fields as well. You're obviously bright and could succeed in a number of other majors.

October 2, 2017, 7:17 PM · My parents and teacher still want me to try. I personally don't think I will get past the screening. I am focusing on Ball State. I've talked to my friend who is a freshman there for performance. She isn't that much better than I am, so I think I'll be fine there.
Edited: October 2, 2017, 7:19 PM · In many rural and rural-ish areas such as Southwestern Virginia, there are no elementary-school string teachers. Music is a once-a-week, one-hour class, and all the classes in the whole school rotate through the same one teacher. All these percussion guys, they can play maybe a little piano, often a lot of marimba or vibes, they can finger a recorder or strum a guitar or play some bass. I don't see them playing string, woodwind, or brass instruments but come to think of it one of them plays the euphonium rather well. They're impressive guys actually, we're very fortunate to have them. The one who I've played some gigs with is a very good jazz drummer and vibraphonist. Nothing gets the kids going like having their teacher sitting behind his drum set laying down some kind of funky groove.
Edited: October 2, 2017, 7:26 PM · Jacob, with all due respect, if your teacher still wants you to try submitting a screening recording to IU, then I am wondering how much experience your teacher has with the professional world in general and with top music schools in particular.

If you were my student, under no circumstances would I be encouraging you to submit a screening recording to IU. It would be a waste of your time, which could be better spent polishing your audition and application material for other, more realistic schools.

Edited: October 3, 2017, 6:45 AM · Sounds like the teacher wants to be able to say they've had a student apply at IU.
October 3, 2017, 8:57 AM · I've heard that the guy who hires music-teachers in my local school district is a trombonist, and so he keeps hiring trombonists. :-)

Music-ed teachers are frequently expected, especially at the elementary and even middle school levels, to teach all instruments, even in big wealthy suburban school districts.

But great school music-teachers are often not especially good players (even on their primary instrument). What matters is their energy, their enthusiasm, their love for kids, and their ability to manage a classroom and inspire their students.

Community orchestras are full of public-school music-teachers, and often their playing level is essentially indistinguishable from the amateurs.

October 3, 2017, 11:41 AM · Did the trombonist graduate from Central Michigan University? They used to have this amazing trombone ensemble.
October 3, 2017, 11:50 AM · "Music-ed teachers are frequently expected, especially at the elementary and even middle school levels, to teach all instruments, even in big wealthy suburban school districts."

In my children's district, instruments are not introduced until 5th grade (strings) or 6th grade (band instruments). The beginning string classes are taught after school by the middle and high school orchestra directors, mostly, but it's also possible for an uncertified violinist or cellist to assist with these classes. Beginning band instruments are taught in middle school classes by the band directors. The elementary school music teachers might teach class recorder but that's about the extent of their instrumental teaching--the classes are mostly singing and music appreciation.

In at least one neighboring (and poorer) district that I know of, the after school strings class is being taught by a band teacher.

Teacher certification in Texas is K-12, choral or instrumental (there is no differing certification for orchestra/band). I think most of the elementary music teachers have choral certificates. Theoretically a band specialist could be assigned to teach orchestra or vice versa but in the wealthier districts this almost never happens.

Edited: October 5, 2017, 4:29 PM · Pretty much all the "instruments" in our local elementary schools are percussion, including mallet instruments -- basically marimbas and the like. So you can play make an acceptable sound and even learn a simple tune without really having any actual skill. Kids love banging on stuff.
October 5, 2017, 12:28 PM · And, some charter and private schools don't even require music ed degrees at all, and may take people with performance degrees, or freelancers without degrees. I wouldn't count on such a school necessarily existing in your area though.
October 5, 2017, 6:47 PM · Some of the private schools around here essentially have adjunct instructors who are freelancers / private teachers. That's part-time work, no benefits, which isn't usually the security that people are looking for when they get a BME and hope to land a full-time school job.
October 6, 2017, 3:31 PM · I’m in a sort of similar situation as you, but also largely different in that I am trying out for a few conservatories for performance but my plan A (or B for that matter) hasn’t been music. I’m also terribly aware of the fact that it’s unlikely that I will get past prescreening for most of them. I chose to tackle a nigh impossible task to put myself in a setting where I am forced to get better—that’s been the education philosophy with my parents and something I guess that just stuck with me as a person. I have set my goals not to get into those schools but to fix all of my major problems before the end of the year so I’m not laughed out of auditions (which I might well be!). Getting into the said conservatories is really just the cherry on top—for me.

To offer my pennies, I don’t think it’s entirely bad that you’re trying out for auditions that you know won’t get past. We’re both still pretty young (since I took a couple gap years, you’re probably at least 3-4 years younger than me) and it’s our privilege to try impossible things. I think it would be a sin not to take advantage of it.

With that said, I think you also need to know what you’re signing up for. Challenge at our age is a good thing but it’s also important to start to cook up a plan for the future. I spent my first year at Northeastern University which is right next to New England Conservatory and I’ve had a few friends who did a dual enrollment program we offered—they were allowed to take classes from both NEU and NEC. It’s important to note that most of my NEC friends started out on their instrument when they were 3 and have been taking private lessons since—and they don’t consider music to be a part of their future professional lives. On the other hand, I have a couple friends who attend Towson University, a local school here in Baltimore as Music Ed majors and my tuba major friend has only started on his instrument half way through high school and he has only been playing an instrument since middle school. His future plans do indeed include music in a professional setting and he is preparing to do a master’s program soon.

You will probably be able to get into your local schools, even considering the high competition rates for the instrument we both play, but what do you want to do with your performance degree? My NEC friends have realised that even though they enjoy music and chose to take classes performance students at NEC would take, it’s really difficult to make it in the world as a performer—the violin major friend also majors in computer science and the clarinet major friend majors in biochem on a huge scholarship from NEU, and they both plan on using Comp Sci and Biochem to make livings. Does that mean they are abandoning music altogether? Absolutely not. It just means they won’t be making a job out of it.

At our age, it’s our God-given duty and right to dream and challenge, but as we approach an age where we will have to take responsibility for our lives, we also need to look at things from a cold angle. In speculation, i don’t think you can get too far with a performance degree at the level you’re currently in, sheerly judging from the list of reps you provided us. I was a little surprised I didn’t even see Bruch No. 1! If you really want to continue on the path that you have chosen, by all means, go for it, but it might not be a bad idea to not jump into universities just yet. Preparing yourself and practicing before college graduation and after graduation are two largely different things with largely different responsibilities, and I agree that beefing up your reps will be really helpful. I think during that time you should also try to envision where you really want to be—do you have to make a living out of music or can you enjoy it even without making a living off of it?

Best of luck to you!

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