Sunderman Conservatory of Music’s tips for acing your audition

How to prepare for a music audition

A student playing a piano in front of a faculty

We all know that music auditions can be intimidating. At Gettysburg College, we want you to demonstrate your potential and we want you to succeed. Below are tips from the Sunderman of Conservatory of Music faculty on how to ace your upcoming audition. Good luck!

Step 1: Advance preparation

  • Do some research about your applied area ahead of time.
  • Contact the school and see if you can have a lesson with a teacher within that applied area ahead of time.
  • Research the audition requirements specific to your instrument.
    • Are there specific works you need to learn?
    • Do you need to know certain scales or technical exercises?
  • Double-check any application deadlines.
    • Some schools will require you to submit pre-screening materials (recordings, videos). Be sure you look carefully into those requirements and reach out if you have any questions.
  • Careful and serious preparation is key to a successful audition.
    • Perform your audition for anyone who will hear it!
    • Record yourself playing or singing your audition repertoire so you can assess your own performance.
  • If you have the option to choose your own repertoire, play music that you how to play well, even if that repertoire is less technical. It is better to play a simpler piece artistically than a difficult piece that is beyond your ability to play with comfort, fluidity, and joy.
  • If you play a keyboard instrument, inquire ahead of time to see if you can warm up on the instrument you will be auditioning on.
  • Find out if the school will supply an accompanist, if you are expected to provide one, or if one is not permitted. Every school’s policies will differ.
  • You may be expected to take a music theory or sight singing exam on the day of your audition. Check the school’s website or be in touch with them to ensure that you’re well prepared.

Step 2: Audition Day

  • Be sure to double-check your schedule and plan your travel time. Try to avoid cutting it too close!
    • Weather is often a factor during audition season, so budget more time than you need to travel, especially to areas with more severe winter weather.
  • Ensure that you’ll arrive on campus with plenty of time to find your way around, warm up, and feel comfortable.
  • Dress professionally, but comfortably. Be particularly mindful of wearing comfortable shoes that you have performed in before.
  • Bring a water bottle and healthy snacks—you want to feel well-rested and powered-up.
  • Check your schedule to see if you have been assigned an accompanist and if you are scheduled to rehearse with them.
    • Warm up prior to this rehearsal so that you can make the most of your time together.
  • Prioritize your warm up time! If you are on a campus tour or in an information session, feel free to step out to take time to warm up.

Step 3: The Audition

  • Arrive a few minutes early at the space where you’re auditioning—the room may be running ahead of schedule.
  • Be able to determine the order that you want to play your audition repertoire. You may not be the one making this decision, but it may be in your hands.
  • Bring a simple resume and a list of repertoire you have studied.
  • When it comes time to perform, take a moment to find your breath and focus before you begin.
  • Answer questions honestly. If you haven’t learned a certain piece or studied a scale, don’t say that you have! The faculty aren’t testing you, they just want to know as much about your experience as possible.
  • You will likely have the opportunity to chat with the faculty about your background and your goals in music.
    • Share stories of participation in various opportunities both in and out of music.
    • Be prepared to articulate your goals for pursuing a degree in music. You don’t have to have everything figured out, but you’ll want to show that you are considering how music fits into your life
    • Consider preparing some questions about the school or about the faculty and their goals.

Step 4: Follow-up

  • Don’t expect to hear about audition results immediately—every school handles these decisions differently, and their timelines will vary.
  • Contact the applied faculty member who you played for and thank them for their time. If you had a lesson, be sure to thank them for that as well.
  • If it’s possible to return to campus, see if you can sit-in on an academic class in the music department or another area on campus.

Learn more about the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. Schedule an audition today!