So You Want to Be a Music Major? by Dennis AsKew, Associate Editor for College & University
This article aims to help prepare students who are considering becoming a music major in college. (The ideas and background of this article are based upon the way most American colleges and universities are run.) The first question to answer, of course, is why do you want to be a music major? If the answer is along the lines of ” 1 hope to perform in a symphony” or “I want to be a band director” then you are probably heading in the right direction. If your answer is more along the lines of ” I’ve just always done band” or “I dunno, it sounds like fun” then you should seriously reconsider your future plans.
Let’s assume you have the right frame of mind and are set to work hard to enter college as a music major. Now what? Look around at colleges in your state/region and narrow your choices. Most larger statesupported institutions have a full-time tuba and euphonium instmctor – if at all possible, try to find a school that has one. If not, at the very least, try and find one that has a full-time low brass person. Get to know that teacher, if at all possible, even if it’s via e-mail.
Very often colleges require that you apply for admittance academically before you are allowed to audition for the school or department of music – many times this information is found on the schools’ web page or in its published audition information guide. Find out what is required for the audition – scales, solos, etc. Some schools have publisljied requirements, while others do not. You should find this information well before the audition date.
Some schools run on a “rolling” admittance, which means that they might fill all available slots early in the year; others might have only a few closely scheduled audition dates and will defer all results to one time frame. Again, this is information you should be able to obtain from a web site or from the instmctor at that school.
Some schools have theory and piano requirements for entrance as well – other may just have placement exams in these areas. Additionally, a more formal interview may take place while you are on campus for the audition. The tuba/euphonium instmctor at the school you are applying for can answer these kinds of questions.
OK, now you’ve settled on several schools/teachers you want to audition for and it’s mid-October. Time to focus on the audition. If there are not listed audition materials, then it’s decision time. Teachers are looking at prospective students for both current abilities and potential for growth. You should have all major scales, (and natural minors-they aren’t THAT hard…) and at least several different kinds of pieces at your disposal. All-state solos and district/region solos or etudes are usually good to pull from.
If you are currently studying privately, obviously your teacher is a good resource for materials, too. Plan to perform something you are very comfortable playing – don’t take in something which is a “good piece” but that you can’t play well. While preparing for the audition, don’t forget to practice sight-reading, as this has been known to make or break auditions. Usually 15-20 minutes a day of sight-reading practice is needed, so that in a live situation, you don’t lose your cool.
When the time comes for the “day of,” get plenty of rest (or at least as much as you possibly can) and stay as relaxed and focused as you can. If possible, try to have a lesson with your prospective future teacher while in town for the audition. This can help you make up your mind, and will help the teacher as well. So, in summation:
• Look Around
• Talk with the teacher(s)
• Find out audition requirements well in advance
• 3″ Practice, practice, practice