And now, crunch time begins...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RB-R37297, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Today marks two months to the week of university auditions. I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous already - not so much for lack of preparation (I've been working towards this since August) but mostly for the actual audition itself. I'm quite certain that I'll be as adequately prepared as I possibly can be when the audition rolls around, but I know I'll be very, very nervous in terms of there being a lot riding on my audition. I resolved last year to go into music because I believe music education to be one of the most important things the school system offers, period, and I believe that music education is really what I should be doing with my life. I love this instrument and I love music in general.

    I am of the opinion that, while I'm not a bad player, I'm going to have to keep driving hard for the next month and a half if I expect to get into the U of Manitoba. My teacher is pleased with my progress, but I'm choosing to be slightly pessimistic on that front just to hedge my bets - better to overprepare than underprepare. I'm working on my theory skills in addition, and I think I'll be well prepared for that. Regardless of how much I prepare, though, I believe I'll be nervous for the whole entrance process.

    At no point in this venture have I believed this to be a fool's errand nor do I think I am destined for failure. I know that this is what I should be doing.

    I can feel the screws tightening a little bit already in terms of how close judgement day is drawing, but I just have a few questions for the more experienced players on TM.

    What was your audition to music school like? How did you think you did? How nervous were you?

    Actually scrap the specific questions. Just tell me about what your entrance to university was like.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    From the dim mists of time it's hard to remember, but I can relate how my son's audition process went. He auditioned at three schools. One of them he already knew the trumpet teacher pretty well from having attended summer music camp there three times. At another, he knew the trumpet teacher very slightly, having done a chair placement audition with him for a regional high school honors band. At the third, he auditioned before a committee and additionally was videotaped so that the entire faculty would vote on him. At that school, he had met with the marching band director who was one of the people who would be voting on his audition but that person wasn't in the room.

    Just like you, he was very nervous (who isn't nervous about such a process?) At the audition with the videotape (the school he really wanted to go to) he walked out convinced he had played so poorly they'd never take him. At the school where he had only a brief acquaintance with the trumpet teacher he had missed the fine print in the audition list which specified an etude from the Arban's book, so that even though he thought he had done fairly well with the stuff he played he was convinced he wouldn't get in. At the school where he knew the trumpet teacher pretty well, he walked out feeling very good about how he had done and said the teacher had congratulated him right there in the audition room. Problem was, he didn't really want to spend 4 years working with that teacher.

    The long and the short of it was that he was accepted into all three schools, so his initial reaction following the audition didn't matter at all. He was the kind of auditioner that most music schools would be looking for: obviously hard-working, dressing neatly so that he obviously cared about the impact he would make on the school, obviously capable of learning and obviously caring about his trumpet-playing skills and caring about the music he played.

    So, here are a few thoughts to help you relax a bit (not too much or you'll become complacent and that's a bad thing):
    1) schools are *not* looking for the world's greatest trumpet player -- they're looking for someone they can help to grow musically and that they will be able to teach;
    2) schools *are* looking for solid musical foundations;
    3) they're looking for signs of a solid work ethic;
    4) they're looking for people who care passionately about their music;
    5) they're looking for people who will be teachable and who will fit into the social atmosphere of the department -- an excellent trumpet player who is egotistical and feels he's already learned it all will be rejected while a trumpet player who makes some goofs but who seems willing to learn and not overly impressed with himself will be accepted;

    It seems as if you've got all the qualifications they're looking for, and of course I can't hear you play your music so this is purely conjecture based on your trumpet teacher's estimation of your progress, I'll bet they will accept you.

    Things to keep in mind, though, concerning the audition: some schools have a limit on how many students on any specific instrument they will accept so even a perfect student might not make it, if there are very few openings on that specific instrument that year. I have no clue whether U.Manitoba is such a school.

    Most importantly, though, is to remember: It's not how great you are when you enter that the colleges care about -- it's how great they can help you become by the time you graduate that they are concerned with.

    So keep on practicing, it's good never to be completely content with how you play.

    Tips for the audition day itself: eat a sensible breakfast and lunch (if your audition is in the afternoon), not very big but enough so that hunger won't be an issue to distract you. Dress nicely but comfortably. You don't need a suit or tuxedo, but a sports jacket and tie won't be bad, or a very nice clean shirt and a sweater. Whatever you wear, make sure it's clothing you can play comfortably in. Be polite, speak clearly when they ask you questions, don't mumble! If you don't know something, be willing to admit it. If they ask you a question you don't know the answer to, don't b.s. an answer. They're teachers, they know when a student doesn't know the answer and they really like honesty. Play what they ask you to play (it might not be every note in every piece you've prepared -- if they stop you mid-way, it is neither a bad sign nor a good sign) and if you're not clear on what they're asking you to play, ask them for further clarification. It's not good if your ego won't let you ask questions and you play what you *think* they might have asked you to do when in fact they didn't ask you to do that.

    Sometimes auditions turn into mini-lessons -- if the teacher you're auditioning for sees something they think could stand to be changed, work with them. It doesn't mean they like you enough to accept you, nor does it mean they think you need so much improvement that you're hopeless. But a free lesson should always be welcome. :-)

    Feel free to ask the auditioning teacher questions, if you have any, such as how many students are in his studio, when lessons generally are scheduled, how many recitals will you have to perform, etc. Always ask with an air of humility, though, starting them with "If I do get to go here, how many recitals . . ." for example. Don't ask questions which make it appear as if you are assuming that you've passed the audition and been accepted.

    Best of luck to you -- keep working hard and don't put too much pressure on yourself for the audition. While it may appear as if you have a lot riding on the audition, keep things in perspective: they won't shoot you if they don't like you, the sun will still come up the next day (unless your audition is on december 19th, 2012 if you believe the Mayan calender stuff), and there are other schools than just the one. When you put your trumpet to your lips in the audition room, it's just like putting your trumpet to your lips in your practice area at home or in the band room at school. Don't put any excess "baggage" on your shoulders when you play in the audition room -- it's just another time through the music, music which you've worked on very hard for a long time, music which you know very well.

    And when the audition is over, no matter how you think you may have played, smile, be gracious, thank them for their time, and don't walk out grumbling or saying to your parents/friends whoever may be with you that you can't believe all the mistakes you just made, don't say they'll never accept you. Don't say anything like that. Keep smiling.

    One final thought -- if you are waiting outside the audition room and you can hear the person before you playing, don't think at all about how well they're playing and how they sound so much better than you will sound (most of us think that about our own playing). Even if they play flawlessly, it doesn't mean they'll be accepted -- they could be the world's biggest jerk and the teacher may well be saying to herself, "I'll never let that fool into my studio!"

    The only thing you'll have any power over on that day is how well you play -- so forget all the rest, there's no pressure, it's just a concert for an audience of one, so enjoy it and put on a great show.

    Good luck! -- the really nerve-wracking part is after the audition, completing the rest of the application process and waiting, waiting, waiting for that letter. ;-)
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009

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