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6 Tips for Acing Your Conservatory Audition

An over-the-shoulder shot of a student playing trumpet. In front of them is a music stand with sheet music.

Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is pounding. Are you in danger? No, you’re about to walk into an audition!

Auditions bring excitement, but they can also be a rollercoaster of nerves, especially for young musicians. With auditions for the Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory around the corner in April and May, we want to alleviate any anxiety you may have about the process. To turn down the volume on those pre-audition jitters, here are six tips to help you ace your Conservatory audition.

1. Do Your Homework

Most auditions will have specific requirements, so it’s crucial that you do your homework ahead of time so you understand exactly what you need to prepare.

For Merit’s Conservatory, the requirements are tailored to each instrument and program. Your audition may consist of prepared pieces, etudes, scales, and sight-reading.

Check out our audition requirements to learn what you need to prepare for your audition.

2. Consult Your Musical Mentors

You don’t have to do it alone! Reach out to your music teachers as you gear up for your audition, whether it be a private lesson, group class, or in-school teacher. While Merit’s staff is here to answer questions and steer you through the audition process, your regular music teachers hold the key to personalized insights that can make your audition truly stand out.

Your teachers are invaluable resources – seek their expertise in selecting repertoire, mastering the music, preparing scales and etudes, and anything else that might elevate your performance. Their seasoned guidance and attentive ears could be the key to unlocking a standout audition.

3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Conservatory auditions take place in April and May. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare! Practice a little bit every day to make sure your pieces, scales, and etudes are all in top shape, and don’t forget to polish your sight-reading skills.

One helpful hint? Give the day a practice run with a mock audition. This could mean asking a music teacher to observe your run-through and give specific feedback to improve your performance. However, this practice run doesn’t need to be in front of another musician. Even playing your audition for friends or family can work wonders. The more you practice in front of others, the more comfortable you will be when the day arrives.

“I would be lost if it had not been for the close-knit Conservatory community. It has taught me so much about myself and the way I communicate with others through music and other means.”

– Josh, Conservatory alum

A student plays piano onstage.

4. Take Care of Your Body and Mind

Let’s face it: none of us perform at our best when we’re not taking care of ourselves. Showing up to an audition tired, hungry, or dehydrated could keep you from playing to your full potential.

A good night’s sleep is essential. Quality rest boosts your concentration, problem-solving, creativity, motor skills, and memory – all vital for a musician! Hydration is also key, particularly if you sing or play a wind instrument, as a dry mouth or throat can directly impact the quality of your performance.

Minimize distractions at your audition by nurturing both your body and mind so you can deliver a more relaxed and focused performance. Get ready to showcase your musical prowess without unnecessary hurdles!

5. Be On Time

The more rushed you are, the more likely you are to feel flustered. Set yourself up for success by ensuring you have plenty of time to prepare yourself and your instrument for your upcoming performance.

For your Conservatory audition, you will be assigned a designated time slot. We strongly advise arriving at least 30 minutes beforehand to check in and warm up. When it’s your turn, you will be escorted to your audition room, where you’ll showcase all your hard work and preparation for our esteemed Merit faculty members.

If you’re a new student, you will also take a music theory placement exam to gauge your level of knowledge. If you don’t have a strong background in theory, don’t be discouraged or nervous; we simply want to place you in the right class if you are offered a spot in Conservatory. Many Conservatory students are beginners in theory!

After the audition, you and your guardian will meet with Merit faculty in a family interview. This is a chance for us to get to know you and your musical journey and to answer any questions you may have about Conservatory.

In total, the audition process for new students takes approximately an hour and a half. Be sure to allocate enough time to complete all components of the day without having to manage rush-induced stress.

6. Be Yourself

Conservatory is a unique, supportive community of young musicians coming together to learn and grow. As you approach your audition, remember that we’re not only looking for great musicians but passionate individuals who will thrive in this environment. Let us get to know you. Introduce yourself, share a smile, and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have.

Remember – we want you to succeed! Let your genuine self shine.

We hope the tips provided here can serve as your guide to not only navigating the audition process but flourishing within it. So, breathe deeply, relax, and embark on this audition journey with confidence. Best of luck!

Audition for Merit's Conservatory

View the audition and repertoire requirements.

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