Re: College Auditions

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Posted by Jay Bertolet on December 06, 1998 at 09:37:19:

In Reply to: College Auditions posted by Bill Russom on December 05, 1998 at 20:13:24:

I think that what you play depends on what you want to major in. As with any audition, you always try to play music that shows off your best qualities. I also advise students to show how versatile they can be, i.e. different styles, speeds, dynamics, etc. Also, you may want to consult a prospective teacher as to what they look for in an audition. With those things in mind:

If you are a performance major: I would play a major solo. If you have a small tuba (F or Eb) then I would definately do a movement of the Vaughan-Williams. If you only have a CC or BBb, then I would do one of the major solos for the big horn, like the Kraft Encounters or an Alec Wilder Sonata or Persichetti Serenade #12 or the Penderecki Capriccio or Spillman 2 Songs or 4 Greek Preludes or Gordon Jacob Tuba Suite or other works like that. I know these are VERY hard pieces but what are you trying to do when you audition? My take, especially for college auditions, is that you have to set yourself apart from all the other applicants. That way, you put yourself in the best possible position to both get into the college of your choice as well as get significant scholarship. So when you are spending those long hours in the practice room trying to work out a piece, you'll know it is really an investment in your future (and a BIG money saver and school loan eliminator). Whatever piece you choose, be absolutely sure you will sound great when you play. Don't take chances on a piece in an audition if you're not completely confident that you will sound like you can handle the piece. The worst thing you can do is go into an audition and sound like you're trying to play a piece way past your abilities.

After the solo, I would suggest you play some of the major orchestral excerpts for tuba. After all, as a performance major, this will be your focus and your stock and trade. It would be nice to show the teacher that you have some knowledge of what you will be working on during your degree, in preparation for auditions. I always suggest the top 5 excerpts:

The Ride
Prokofiev 5th
Hungarian March

If you have a small instrument (F or Eb) then I would add a couple of other excerpts:

Symphonie Fantastique
Overture to Benvenuto Cellini

Again, these are hard pieces and will require many hours of preparation. In the case of the excerpts, this is just like putting money in the bank. You have to know these pieces cold to win a job so, as the ad says, you can pay me now or you can pay me later...

Also, be prepared to sightread. Many college auditions require this.

If you are not majoring in performance:

This is much more wide open as far as choosing literature. Really, I would just focus on the main goals of an audition: sound good, show your musicality and technique, be professional. Remember that in this type of audition, your grades take on added significance. Be sure you have all your academic ducks in a row. If you keep those things in mind, you could almost play anything, within reason. Just try to show the prospective teacher that you have tools to work with and that you have potential. Most teachers understand that non-performance majors will not be performing as a career later on, so they usually don't require some of the hard line literature for an audition. Once you're taking lessons with them, it is sometimes a different story...

I hope these opinions help you. Good luck in your search!

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