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College Audition Repertoire/What Colleges should I audition for?

July 28, 2022, 1:13 AM · Hello, some of you guys have seen similar posts from me asking about college audition repertoire before, however the Universities I was thinking of applying to were quite unrealistic and definitely out of my league.

Today, I'm asking what colleges do you think would be most beneficial for someone like me to audition for a placement in their Music Performance Degree Program. I live in Texas, but I would prefer out of state school suggestions over in state ones, due to personal circumstances.


As for Audition Repertoire, I'm open to all suggestions that you guys have, and if you could explain why you're suggesting the pieces that you suggest, I would be very grateful for that.

Some information about me so you have an idea about what level of Universities and Pieces to suggest for me:
I'm about to start my Junior Year in High School, and I've been playing violin since the beginning of 7th Grade.
I've been self taught for the majority of the time I've been playing violin, except for the last couple months I finally started taking lessons (largely in part to the urging of some of the people on here).

Since I've started playing Violin, I worked my way through the first 6 Suzuki Books during my first 2.5 years or so of playing, I played The Allemande from Bach Partita 2, the Preludio from Bach Partita 3, the Gigue from Bach Partita 3, Mozart 3, Mozart 4, the Bach A Minor Violin Concerto (1st and 2nd Movements), I've played a couple Kreutzer and Fiorillo Etudes (I'm currently working on Kreutzer 31 and Fiorillo 32), and a couple of the easier Kreisler Pieces.

Now that I finally have a teacher, we've been working intensively on fixing my technical issues due to me being self taught, but he doesn't have much experience getting students into Music Major programs at Universities since he's a relatively new violin teacher, hence the reason I've come here for advice.

On a couple of the University websites where audition repertoire is listed, it'll say something like the following:
1. A Rode, Kreutzer, or Dont Etude (or an etude of similar difficulty)
2. One movement from a Standard Violin Concerto (Such as the Bruch, Mendelssohn, or a Mozart Concerto)
3. Two contrasting Movements of Unaccompanied Solo Bach
4. A movement from a sonata (Composed by Bach, Handel, or Mozart)
5. A showpiece of your choice (this one is less common but I've seen it a couple times)

However, sometimes it says "A minimum of two of the above selections are to be performed for your audition."
Is it preferred that we only perform two? Should I prepare 3 pieces? Do the movements of Solo Bach count as one piece or two?

Thank you for your help regarding my possible auditions, I hope you all have a nice Day/Night!
Andre

Replies (42)

July 28, 2022, 5:38 AM · If you are mostly self taught its may be hard for people here to know how to respond. How about recording something on utube and sharing the link here?
Edited: July 28, 2022, 4:56 PM · For the vast majority of schools, you need to prepare everything on the list they give you. Using your above example, that means preparing 5 pieces/etudes (and a total of 6 movements). They may only ask you for 2 of the 5 pieces, but you need to be prepared to play all.

The one exception to this is some lower-level programs which give you a list of suggested options and tell you to pick 2 or 3 from that list.

Each school is a little different. I suggest making a spreadsheet of the repertoire requirements at each school (and in each round if the school requires a prescreen audition). Then you will know exactly how many total pieces you need to learn for all of them. Note that this may also help you to decide where you are applying to, as some will have onerous requirements you can't or don't want to fulfill.

As for repertoire, generally a Romantic or 20th Century concerto is preferred over Mozart (and definitely Bach), unless your Mozart is absolutely pristine. Based on the pieces you have played, Bruch or Lalo are probably the most realistic for you at this point. At the higher-level schools, Bach Solo Sonatas are generally preferred over the Partitas (they like to hear a fugue), but in the tier you will be applying to, Partita 2 or 3 is likely fine. For sonatas, I would suggest Mozart to show breadth. These range from very easy to moderate note-wise, but it is all about the style. Showpieces are a bit tricky as they tend to be harder, so I am not sure what to suggest at your level. Wieniawski Obertass Mazurka would be one suggestion.

As for schools, you will likely get the most bang for your buck at a state school, but depending on how much progress you make in the next two years, you could possibly reach the level of some of the third tier conservatories and music schools. I agree with the above poster that some video would help assess that.

July 28, 2022, 11:08 AM · And, of course, a good/honest teacher will also have a few things to say.
Edited: July 28, 2022, 5:16 PM · I may be off-base with my suggestion, but have you looked into your state's community colleges. It might be a good way to further prepare for the bigger leagues.

The community college in my California county has had a good music program. I played in their orchestra for 16 years as a senior citizen and was thus able to evaluate (at least in my own terms) the musical and pedagogical abilities of the faculty.

The concertmaster of the Columbus, OH Symphony visited once to play a concerto with the college orchestra, because she had graduated from this community college before going on for further education her musical career. (Probably visiting her family too, but I don't know that.)

https://www.comparably.com/salaries/salaries-for-symphony-orchestra-musician-in-columbus-oh

July 28, 2022, 2:52 PM · What are your long term goals?
July 28, 2022, 6:25 PM · One problem that we have here is that we don't know how WELL you play any of the stuff you listed. If you play it all impeccably, which I strongly doubt, then you have a shot at the music program of a larger state university, but I have no idea which among them are good (except for those that are REALLY good like Indiana or Northwestern or Michigan or Wisconsin, and you're not going there).

My suggestion is that you base your selection of state universities on: (1) the institution and its location, reputation, academic quality, and financial accessibility seem agreeable to you overall, (2) the program offers the opportunities you want -- orchestra, etc., and (3) there is a violin professor that you resonate with -- someone who will invest his or her talent and energy in you and seems really committed to your improvement (need to do the trial lesson to learn this).

For your concerto, if you have the time and aptitude to learn the first movement of Bruch G Minor, you should do that. I agree with what Susan wrote about Mozart concertos. For a study, maybe Kreutzer No. 35 (The March). That's in a good key (E-flat) to help you improve your intonation in the Bruch. And K35 is more of a caprice than a plain study (it has a simple compositional structure). For a sonata I recommend the Mozart K304 because it's easier and you won't have time to learn several hard things from scratch and play them well. K304 will show off your ability to get some nice off-the-string colors with your bow. If you want to stay in flat keys try K378. I agree with Susan's suggestion of the Wieniawski Obertass Mazurka for your show piece. It's not really all that hard but it sounds flashy -- James Ehnes has used it as an encore. And it's not long.

July 28, 2022, 6:29 PM · Just a quick note that Northwestern is a private university, not a state school, and is commensurately expensive. It is also a very good music school and I agree that it is likely out of the reach of the OP.

The Kreutzer and Fiorello études mentioned in the OP are this year’s Texas All-State etudes, with excerpts from them required for region orchestra auditions also.

I can add more thoughts later but I have a concert to get ready for. I agree with those who say a video would be helpful.

July 29, 2022, 1:54 AM · It would be really helpful to know what your long-term goals are, as Rebecca asked, and also to hear a recording (preferably a video so we can also see what your technique is like). Without that information, trying to give you specific advice is very much like trying to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar without being permitted to examine it closely.

July 30, 2022, 8:51 AM · To remind people of some prior context, here is the previous thread: LINK

OP, I'm glad that you've apparently been able to get a teacher. I suspect that we need to see a video to guess at the amount of time you're going to be at a back-to-basics level before you can seriously work on audition repertoire. Since most people start working on audition rep at the start of the second semester of their junior year, you've got roughly half a year to concentrate on fixing your technical fundamentals.

Have you been able to increase your practice time? Are your parents any more supportive than they were before?

Going out of state is going to increase the cost of schooling, and given your unsupportive parents, practically demands that you win a full-pay scholarship, which will push your school tier downwards. That might not be a bad thing, given that for a while, what you'll really need is a teacher who can work on your core technique so that you can eventually be well-prepared to take an MM audition at a good school. There are plenty of excellent teachers at not-so-good schools, but you'll have to find them.

For the sort of programs you're most likely to be competitive for, you probably don't have a complex five-work program (i.e. ignore the requirements for the likes of Juilliard and Curtis). Rather, think "two movements of solo Bach + one etude + first movement of a concerto". Realistically, you're probably going to audition with a Kreutzer etude, a pair of the easier Bach movements from a Partita, and a pre-Bruch-level concerto (Kabalevsky, Viotti 22 or the like) -- and perhaps even that might be too high a level.

(I am making the assumption that your pushing through a lot of intermediate-level repertoire in your first 2.5 years of playing meant that you were ready for exactly none of it. Indeed, you probably don't even want to go back to those Bach movements because they'll push you back into old bad habits.)

July 30, 2022, 10:02 AM · Thanks to Lydia for the link to the previous thread which I had forgotten about. I am going to copy and paste part of my post from that thread here as it seems relevant. I understand that the OP has negative feelings about Texas – heck, so do I, and I’ve lived in Texas since 1988. But Texas is a big state, university towns tend to be bubbles, and I still think that applying to UNT in Denton as a BA music major with the plan of practicing intensively and re-auditioning a year or two down the road for the performance program is one of the OP’s best options. As I mentioned in the other thread, I know a student whose SAT scores were solid but not spectacular and they were offered a very large academic scholarship there completely separate from their audition.

Lessons with another high school student, no matter how accomplished that other student is, aren’t remotely adequate.

Your best bet is to enlist your orchestra director’s help in finding a local *qualified* professional teacher who will teach you for little or nothing as a personal kindness or outreach, or who has connections to a scholarship program that will cover your lessons.

Don’t waste your time and money applying to Juilliard or similar schools. Look for excellent teachers at schools where you are likely to get a large academic scholarship. Columbus State in Georgia, as I posted above, is one such. If you live in Texas, even reasonably high SAT scores will get you a large scholarship at North Texas—might still be a reach school for a performance major but they also have a BA - music program that could get your foot in the door.

Go to a good teacher at a lower-tier school and practice like a demon. You can always audition to transfer after a couple of years, or set your sights on a higher-tier grad school. In the meantime, take classes that keep other paths open to you. You may discover a passion in another field that will give you a good life while you continue playing for your own joy and satisfaction.

Plenty of my formerly professional musician friends have moved on to careers in computers, law, medicine, or education and are happier and certainly better off now than they were as struggling musicians.

July 30, 2022, 2:59 PM · Hello!

In regards to the recording, I currently do not have anything prepared to record, so do you guys have any suggestions for something I could record that would show what you guys need to see in order to give you an idea of what my technique is like?

I was looking at schools, and WIU appeals to me as a possible school for me to get my Undergrad degree. I spoke with the Associate Violin Professor there over email, and judging by the information I got, I think I'd have a pretty decent shot at getting in there. The tuition is cheaper than even some in state schools, and their academic requirements aren't nearly as high as some of the other lower tier music schools. What do you guys think of WIU School of Music?

Susan,
Thank you for the idea of making a spreadsheet! I started doing that and it's helping the planning process for possible audition pieces immensely. Also, thank you for the piece suggestions! Which movements from the Partitas would be appropriate? For the Mozart Sonatas, would the first movement of said sonata be preferred? Or does the particular movement not matter much?

Andrew,
I have looked at state community colleges, and I am considering a couple, but if possible, I'd rather not stay in Texas.

Rebecca,
My long terms goals are to hopefully graduate with a degree in Violin Performance, get into a relatively competent Symphony Orchestra, and possible teach students on the side. I know that isn't very in depth, but I'm in a bit of a rush right now, and I'll elaborate later if I have time.

Paul,
You're right in assuming that my performance of these pieces was not immaculate. It was far from that in fact. The most I can say is that for the pieces I performed at my school's Solo and Ensemble Contest (Mozart 4 Movement 1 with the Cadenza by Herrmann, Bach A Minor Movement 1, and a few others) I received a Superior rating from the judges. I know that doesn't say much, but it's all I can use to describe the level of performance I gave.
As for the pieces you suggested, I believe I have adequate time to learn them, provided I continue to have access to the practice rooms at my school outside of school hours.

Lydia,
Yes, I was able to increase my practice time, and yes, my parents are more supportive of me doing a career in music. They still don't fully understand why I want to do it, but they are helping me more than they were during the time of the last thread.
For what you said regarding repertoire, yes, I did "rush" through a lot of the intermediate repertoire, but it's not like I didn't learn it at a reasonable level of competency. The orchestra directors from my local middle schools and high school all advised me and helped me with those pieces, so I had some professional advice.

Mary Ellen,
I have UNT down on my list of possible options already. I'm definitely planing to audition for it sort of as a safety school (but not really because I would be happy attending there irregardless of my apathy towards Texas in general.)
My teacher isn't a high school student, I decided not to take lessons from the aforementioned High School student at the advice of the people on here (including you). Despite the fact that she is extremely competent (she placed quite high in the All State Orchestras and made NYO2), she doesn't have the experience necessary to teach violin. As I stated previously, the colleges I am considering are more realistic than the ones I mentioned in my previous thread.
What would be considered reasonably high SAT scores? 1400-1500? On the Practice SAT I scored a 1460, and although that doesn't say much for how my actual SAT scores are, is that a reasonable goal for the actual SAT?

Everyone,
Sorry for the short responses, I'm kind of in a hurry, but thank you for all of the advice you've given me, it's really helped a lot.

July 30, 2022, 2:59 PM · Hello!

In regards to the recording, I currently do not have anything prepared to record, so do you guys have any suggestions for something I could record that would show what you guys need to see in order to give you an idea of what my technique is like?

I was looking at schools, and WIU appeals to me as a possible school for me to get my Undergrad degree. I spoke with the Associate Violin Professor there over email, and judging by the information I got, I think I'd have a pretty decent shot at getting in there. The tuition is cheaper than even some in state schools, and their academic requirements aren't nearly as high as some of the other lower tier music schools. What do you guys think of WIU School of Music?

Susan,
Thank you for the idea of making a spreadsheet! I started doing that and it's helping the planning process for possible audition pieces immensely. Also, thank you for the piece suggestions! Which movements from the Partitas would be appropriate? For the Mozart Sonatas, would the first movement of said sonata be preferred? Or does the particular movement not matter much?

Andrew,
I have looked at state community colleges, and I am considering a couple, but if possible, I'd rather not stay in Texas.

Rebecca,
My long terms goals are to hopefully graduate with a degree in Violin Performance, get into a relatively competent Symphony Orchestra, and possible teach students on the side. I know that isn't very in depth, but I'm in a bit of a rush right now, and I'll elaborate later if I have time.

Paul,
You're right in assuming that my performance of these pieces was not immaculate. It was far from that in fact. The most I can say is that for the pieces I performed at my school's Solo and Ensemble Contest (Mozart 4 Movement 1 with the Cadenza by Herrmann, Bach A Minor Movement 1, and a few others) I received a Superior rating from the judges. I know that doesn't say much, but it's all I can use to describe the level of performance I gave.
As for the pieces you suggested, I believe I have adequate time to learn them, provided I continue to have access to the practice rooms at my school outside of school hours.

Lydia,
Yes, I was able to increase my practice time, and yes, my parents are more supportive of me doing a career in music. They still don't fully understand why I want to do it, but they are helping me more than they were during the time of the last thread.
For what you said regarding repertoire, yes, I did "rush" through a lot of the intermediate repertoire, but it's not like I didn't learn it at a reasonable level of competency. The orchestra directors from my local middle schools and high school all advised me and helped me with those pieces, so I had some professional advice.

Mary Ellen,
I have UNT down on my list of possible options already. I'm definitely planing to audition for it sort of as a safety school (but not really because I would be happy attending there irregardless of my apathy towards Texas in general.)
My teacher isn't a high school student, I decided not to take lessons from the aforementioned High School student at the advice of the people on here (including you). Despite the fact that she is extremely competent (she placed quite high in the All State Orchestras and made NYO2), she doesn't have the experience necessary to teach violin. As I stated previously, the colleges I am considering are more realistic than the ones I mentioned in my previous thread.
What would be considered reasonably high SAT scores? 1400-1500? On the Practice SAT I scored a 1460, and although that doesn't say much for how my actual SAT scores are, is that a reasonable goal for the actual SAT?

Everyone,
Sorry for the short responses, I'm kind of in a hurry, but thank you for all of the advice you've given me, it's really helped a lot.

July 30, 2022, 2:59 PM · Hello!

In regards to the recording, I currently do not have anything prepared to record, so do you guys have any suggestions for something I could record that would show what you guys need to see in order to give you an idea of what my technique is like?

I was looking at schools, and WIU appeals to me as a possible school for me to get my Undergrad degree. I spoke with the Associate Violin Professor there over email, and judging by the information I got, I think I'd have a pretty decent shot at getting in there. The tuition is cheaper than even some in state schools, and their academic requirements aren't nearly as high as some of the other lower tier music schools. What do you guys think of WIU School of Music?

Susan,
Thank you for the idea of making a spreadsheet! I started doing that and it's helping the planning process for possible audition pieces immensely. Also, thank you for the piece suggestions! Which movements from the Partitas would be appropriate? For the Mozart Sonatas, would the first movement of said sonata be preferred? Or does the particular movement not matter much?

Andrew,
I have looked at state community colleges, and I am considering a couple, but if possible, I'd rather not stay in Texas.

Rebecca,
My long terms goals are to hopefully graduate with a degree in Violin Performance, get into a relatively competent Symphony Orchestra, and possible teach students on the side. I know that isn't very in depth, but I'm in a bit of a rush right now, and I'll elaborate later if I have time.

Paul,
You're right in assuming that my performance of these pieces was not immaculate. It was far from that in fact. The most I can say is that for the pieces I performed at my school's Solo and Ensemble Contest (Mozart 4 Movement 1 with the Cadenza by Herrmann, Bach A Minor Movement 1, and a few others) I received a Superior rating from the judges. I know that doesn't say much, but it's all I can use to describe the level of performance I gave.
As for the pieces you suggested, I believe I have adequate time to learn them, provided I continue to have access to the practice rooms at my school outside of school hours.

Lydia,
Yes, I was able to increase my practice time, and yes, my parents are more supportive of me doing a career in music. They still don't fully understand why I want to do it, but they are helping me more than they were during the time of the last thread.
For what you said regarding repertoire, yes, I did "rush" through a lot of the intermediate repertoire, but it's not like I didn't learn it at a reasonable level of competency. The orchestra directors from my local middle schools and high school all advised me and helped me with those pieces, so I had some professional advice.

Mary Ellen,
I have UNT down on my list of possible options already. I'm definitely planing to audition for it sort of as a safety school (but not really because I would be happy attending there irregardless of my apathy towards Texas in general.)
My teacher isn't a high school student, I decided not to take lessons from the aforementioned High School student at the advice of the people on here (including you). Despite the fact that she is extremely competent (she placed quite high in the All State Orchestras and made NYO2), she doesn't have the experience necessary to teach violin. As I stated previously, the colleges I am considering are more realistic than the ones I mentioned in my previous thread.
What would be considered reasonably high SAT scores? 1400-1500? On the Practice SAT I scored a 1460, and although that doesn't say much for how my actual SAT scores are, is that a reasonable goal for the actual SAT?

Everyone,
Sorry for the short responses, I'm kind of in a hurry, but thank you for all of the advice you've given me, it's really helped a lot.

Edited: July 30, 2022, 3:37 PM · The student I am referring to scored between 1300 and 1400 on the SAT and was offered the second highest academic scholarship at UNT.

“My long term goals are to hopefully graduate with a degree in Violin Performance, get into a relatively competent Symphony Orchestra, and possible teach students on the side.”

Please be aware that the goal of “getting into a relatively competent symphony orchestra” is much much much more of a long shot than you may realize. There are plenty of violinists with degrees from the very best music schools who are still on the audition circuit, and the whole process of winning an orchestra job is completely brutal. And even winning a job does not guarantee job security. Ask me how I know.

July 30, 2022, 4:25 PM · Hi CV,
glad to see you are still hanging in there. I think you may be a little confused about what is meant by ‘recording.’ I am (hopefully correctly) assuming that we mean just play something. Not, polish something up so that you can send it to prospective audition type recording.
Gotta rush,
Will continue in about 30 minutes.
Cheers,
Buri
July 30, 2022, 6:10 PM · Sorry, where was I… (in the garden actually)
To be fair, it happens to the best of us at times, perhaps when one is suddenly asked by a really high level player to ‘just play something’ and we panic and make excuses (thereby losing a great learning opportunity);)
However, there is a huge difference in mindset, psychological resolve, technical ability and so on between a player who perpetually makes excuses (apologizes for not being ready) and somebody who -always- had something ready to play at a drop of a hat! Just one piece of music i is all it takes, but that piece has to be factored into your practice routine and brushed up on a regular basis. For my lower intermediate+ Ss I strongly recommend unaccompanied Bach. It’s always effective if done well.
I think this is something you should give some thought to.
My final point is that , in a sense, it would be good to start with a blank slate in relation to the pople on this site. That is, it is much more useful for us to hear a piece you have started from scratch with , including even vidoes of you actually practicing, as opposed to a piece you have been aimlessly scratching at for 6 months (if such were to be the case.)
My suggestion is to take the last movement of the e major partita (Gigue) and learn the first half from memory this week then make an unashamed recording (with a repeat) and also some short videos of you practicing. This would possibly tell us what we need to know and many people would love to jump in and support you in your endeavors. This is a pretty friendly site…..
Just my 2 cents,
Buri
July 30, 2022, 6:22 PM · For partitas, just pick two contrasting movements (slow and a fast). Not the chaconne, obviously!

For Sonatas with Piano, usually you audition on the first movement if it is a classical or early romantic sonata. They typically have the most depth.

Glad the spreadsheets helped!

July 30, 2022, 6:41 PM · Also, to the OP, if I remember correctly, you were looking for a decent violin because your $300 student entry level violin wasn't working out so well. Were you also able to settle on one in your budget? Preparing auditions would be much better on a decent instrument.
Edited: July 30, 2022, 8:59 PM · Had the OP phrased his goals this way: "My goal is to have a thriving teaching studio and play in a fee-for-service orchestra," would our responses have been very different?

Now, before you relax, most freeway philharmonics have good violinists. But it would be useful to look at one that has details on all its violinists on its web page so that you can see where they studied (such a The Virginia Symphony). There will be blue-bloods, but also products of "lower tier" schools. Reading through that list suggests to me that you could consider studying with Susanna Klein at Virginia Commonwealth University, because one of her former students is a Virginia Symphony violinist. I have heard the Virginia Symphony and it's a good orchestra. After you've studied a couple of years in college, if you've chosen your location well, you can probably start auditioning for sub lists. (The bar is often much lower for the sub list.) Also, Virginia is not Texas, although lately it seems like we're trying to be.

July 30, 2022, 8:02 PM · Paul, I've been clear and singleminded about my goal being to crush my enemies, drive them before me, and so on...
Edited: July 30, 2022, 8:40 PM · The Virginia Symphony is a very good orchestra with 76 full time musicians and a 35-week season. It is a member of ICSOM, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, which is the players’ organization of the largest professional orchestras, all the way from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the NYP at the top down to the former San Antonio Symphony. The VSO is by no means a freeway philharmonic nor is it a fee for service orchestra.

The Richmond Symphony is a ROPA orchestra (Regional Orchestras Players Association) with a smaller full-time core (guessing 30-40) augmented by B contract players along with subs and extras for larger works.

While it is generally easier to get on the sublist than it is to win a permanent job, I take exception to the statement that the bar is significantly lower. Having an unqualified or a lesser qualified person on stage is artistically dangerous if not destructive.

July 30, 2022, 8:36 PM · OP, all you need to do is to record something, anything. We'll be able to tell a lot. You could record just the exposition of the Mozart 4's first movement, for instance. A minute of playing is probably sufficient; it doesn't take long to form a quick impression of a player.

No need to worry about preparing a violin/piano sonata for the audition. I can't think of a school in your range that would require it for entrance into a bachelor's program. (Even Curtis doesn't require a sonata for BM candidates.)

Since your teacher is too inexperienced, you say, to normally get students into conservatory programs, you need to consult with someone who can offer you some guidance on what repertoire to choose. But you're probably best off focusing your efforts on the concerto. (In some lesser programs, you'll just need two contrasting works.)

July 30, 2022, 8:45 PM · Hi Christian,
‘ I've been clear and singleminded about my goal being to crush my enemies, drive them before me, and so on...’ How’s that working out for you so far?:)
Cheers,
Buri
PS Lydia, did you see my post..
July 30, 2022, 8:55 PM · Buri, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and so on...so any day now I'm guaranteed satisfaction.

Andre, honestly, you can't tell everything, but you can tell a lot about someone's playing by hearing them play scales and arpeggios. You don't have to overthink it.

Edited: July 30, 2022, 9:02 PM · @Mary Ellen, sorry for misidentifying the Virginia Symphony as a freeway phil. I'm glad to be corrected and educated on the distinction between the different classifications of orchestras. I just assumed it would be in the same general category as the Richmond Symphony, which I believe could be described as "relatively competent" (the OP's language). The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra (which apparently is neither an ISCOM or a ROPA member) is our local orchestra. They always sound good to me. But I know people who have auditioned onto their sub list, and lets just say I was surprised. Personally I feel that drawing a distinction between "generally easier" and "bar significantly lower" is largely semantic, although the former does seem more tactful.

I have no idea what Christian is talking about.

Edited: July 30, 2022, 10:11 PM · The Richmond Symphony is a good orchestra; I subbed with them once last spring. But there is a difference between an orchestra where everyone is full-time and consistently plays together, and an orchestra where a significant percentage consists of a constantly changing contingent.

I am not really sure what the OP means by a “relatively competent” orchestra.

Neither the VSO nor the RSO is going to hire unqualified musicians as subs.

By saying that it is “generally easier” to get on a sublist than it is to win a permanent job, I was thinking more of the psychic torture that a professional orchestra audition is. Sub auditions can be that intense but not necessarily.

July 30, 2022, 10:11 PM · All of that makes sense. I should have said "at least 'relatively competent,'" as I agree this descriptor has a sour tone. Maybe we should ask the OP what he means by a "relatively competent" orchestra. Maybe he could list a few that HE thinks are "relatively competent." I was assuming he meant something better than the average community orchestra. I was assuming he meant an orchestra that sells concert subscriptions and hires at least a reasonable core of professional musicians and is capable of performing some of the more serious repertoire, if perhaps not the most frightful pieces.
July 30, 2022, 10:12 PM · Sorry, Paul, I edited my response before I saw yours because it seemed to me upon reflection that my tone was harsh. I agree with your summation.
July 30, 2022, 10:48 PM · Paul, it's bad commenting etiquette to edit your post to make others look silly, but as a magnanimous future business leader of America, I forgive you. You are a good man, and whatever the opposite of an enemy is (I hope they invent such a word one day), and will remain safely uncrushed.
July 31, 2022, 8:39 AM · Lydia, just a note that as of late the requirements for audition pieces seem to have gotten progressively more bizarre. You will see second-tier conservatories asking for TWO Paganini Caprices (why????), conservatories requesting a piece by an unrepresented composer but then mandating you play Bach, Paganini, and a 19th/20th C concerto (how????), and even Juilliard is now asking for a brilliant concert piece written post-1960 and prefers at least one of your pieces be by an underrepresented composer. You know how many brilliant concert pieces by post-1960 underrepresented composers there are? Not many, unless you stretch the definition of brilliant concert piece significantly.

Point being, schools are asking for a wider variety of pieces and strange combinations, even third tier and state schools.

July 31, 2022, 9:19 AM · I would suggest that the OP search out a more experienced teacher, or at the very least play for a variety of teachers and get some opinions. I’m sure teachers at some of those Texas schools would be happy to schedule one lesson to evaluate what needs to happen between now and auditions. They might also help the OP decide if they are on the right track or totally wasting their time, money, and efforts.

The OP has several strikes against them: late start, self-taught, high competition for jobs. The only thing that might help at this point is an unusually capable and experienced teacher.

July 31, 2022, 9:37 AM · Christian, I edited my post because I noticed that I had misremembered the OP's chosen name. My intent was to fix a simple mistake, not to embarrass anyone. I did consider the latter possibility, but I decided that correcting the error was a higher priority. Your humor simply went over my head; sorry for being dim.
July 31, 2022, 9:38 AM · Gap Year?
Not sure why more people don't do this. Seems like one extra super focused year without the demands of HS could change options dramatically for the right person. Whether those options range from doing it at all, or moving from state college to top tier.
We have not looked at this in any depth yet, so I don't know if there are any ramifications for acceptance, financial aid, etc.
But if you can show up with somewhat higher rep and preparation, it all comes down to the audition, no?
July 31, 2022, 9:54 AM · Paul, I'm just giving you a hard time in my obtuse, enigmatic way
Edited: July 31, 2022, 10:34 AM · Matthew wrote, "Gap Year? I don't know if there are any ramifications for acceptance, financial aid, etc." I hope not. They would be intrinsically prejudicial and therefore illegal. I realize the top conservatories don't generally accept thirtysomethings, but that's not what we're talking about here. They'd probably much rather have a 19-year-old student playing a sublime Tchaik than an 18-year-old at, say, the Bruch level. At a state school, any ageism in the admissions process would be grounds for a lawsuit.

@Christian, no worries. I'll assume it was your parrot.

July 31, 2022, 11:49 AM · "At a state school, any ageism in the admissions process would be grounds for a lawsuit."

...and pretty much impossible to prove.

July 31, 2022, 12:38 PM · That's why I put on my pageboy wig and apply plenty of rouge to apple my cheeks in my conservatory auditions.
July 31, 2022, 12:56 PM · Buri, yes I saw and agree, but I reckon that we're lucky to get 30 seconds of smartphone video out of modern teenagers. (I'd draw a huge distinction between the polished kids in pre-conservatory prep programs -- who are likely rapidly "on" and ready to perform, with the beginnings of polished portfolios -- and kids like the OP.)

Susan, I'm not surprised by the requirement for underrepresented composers, which is showing up absolutely everywhere now. I'm surprised that Carl Fischer or other enterprising publisher hasn't started to put together collections exactly for this sort of purpose.

I'm guessing that the OP is largely going to be a candidate at schools with minimalistic audition requirements, though.

July 31, 2022, 1:29 PM · @Lydia the compendium would be published by Hal Leonard. And it would include guitar chords.
July 31, 2022, 4:25 PM · Hi Lydia,
thanks for the reply. Yep.Technology does seem to have bred a new kind of non-existence among the young. As far as having something ready is concerned, I am not suggesting that the OP needs a polished portfolio right now. However, I do strongly believe that this idea of having one piece to play at the drop of a hat (at an appropriate level) can be a core component of a player.
It is the difference between building in a sense of ‘I failed to perform’ can I do this?’ and notching up one small success in giving people pleasure through the violin which, as you know, has a huge knock on effect. Such a work only needs to be taken out and dusted off once or twice a week.
A lot of learning to play the violin is dealing with fear and risk. Right here. Right now. :)
Cheers,
Buri
July 31, 2022, 6:54 PM · I do agree that every player should have a thing they pull out when someone says, "So play something for me." Possibly even multiple somethings.

At the very least, for a student, the last thing you learned / performed should be something you can haul out on demand.

Edited: August 1, 2022, 12:53 PM · It's interesting to me how requirements for different instruments are so different. For cello, of the schools we are looking at, only Yale has a hard requirement for a post-1970 piece, not just BIPOC composers but also underrepresented or oppressed from around the world. They list several examples that range from unaccompanied in various styles to nearly-jazz with piano; it would be difficult to not be able to find something :), but it's so specific, you're potentially learning it just for them. Oberlin, NEC, and most others "encourage" applicants to choose a piece by underrepresented composers then list a bunch of other things that will work.

It is interesting to me the breadth vs. depth audition philosophy for cello for Juilliard vs. Curtis. Curtis is so straightforward - an entire concerto, an entire sonata, an etude of your choice. That's it. Several different shorter works for Juilliard, and no mention of underrepresented or BIPOC composers for cello, just a post-1945 piece from an example list of mostly white men (but since these are examples, could legitimately use the Yale piece).

Only Colburn and Juilliard have a "showpiece" requirement, for others it's in a list with etudes, sonata movement, etc.

There is definitely going to be a dilemma between fine-tuning the audition to the school vs. least common denominator, since there is a lot of overlap, while also crafting good college essays and the rest.

As long as I can remember, violinists seemed to have the toughest audition requirements for everything :).

p.s. One of our teachers' stepdaughter is assistant principal cellist with the Virginia Symphony, definitely not a freeway philharmonic.

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