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It is that time of year, students are finalizing their college audition plans. A few tips come to mind.
1. At most schools there are two parts to the application process. At Arizona State, for example, as an undergraduate you have to be accepted to ASU itself and accepted to the ASU School of Music to be a music major, and as a graduate student you have to be accepted by the ASU graduate college and the School of Music. Your application is more than just playing an audition. Inevitably a few applicants neglect one or the other application and this slows things down a great deal.
2. Visit the campus. My experience is that applicants who don’t visit the campus are unlikely to come to ASU. You have to see the place to visualize what study there might be like for you. Make a point of visiting every school you are interested to attend, it is a big commitment.
3. Contact the horn teacher. Seems like a no-brainer but every year there are applicants whom I did not know about until a week or two before the audition day they are scheduled on. Your contact can be very simple, just your name and interest in auditioning, but many skip this important step. Also, if they never reply, you learn something important about that teacher as well.
4. If you can, set up a lesson with the horn teacher. Many horn teachers will meet with prospective students for a lesson, often for free but ask first. I try, if possible, to meet with every applicant at Arizona State.
5. If the posted schedule of audition days won’t work for you, ask to see if you can audition off schedule. While some schools are not very flexible, at ASU I can actually schedule an ad hoc audition on almost any day before the final audition day.
6. Finally, remember that it is not so much what you play as how you play it. This is a final key point, play music that you play well and feel shows off the best qualities in your playing. Your selections must be learned well and must sound comfortable. In relation to this, don’t forget to work on your scales every day! They should sound like old friends.