I will be having my Master of Music postgraduate program auditions soon and I’m trying to recollect all the advice I have received during my training here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and from people I have met along the way.
In this blog post I want to talk about my undergraduate audition experiences. It may help answer some questions for those about to take their first auditions but if not it is my account of what I discovered and I hope that you find it interesting. I don’t pretend to know all the answers but I know that when I was auditioning I would have been grateful for more knowledge.
I personally think it’s important to feel as confident and calm as possible on the day so that you can sing at your best. For me I can help to aid this by planning and making decisions before the event for example; what I’m going to wear; how I’m going to get there; who am I going with; when and what am I going to eat. They may seem like silly questions but I like to know that on the day the only thing I have to make decisions about are artistic and creative ones when I sing. I was once told that we have a limit on how many decisions we can make in one day. I think this is really interesting and I will research into this to see if it’s true, (one day).
Try and travel to the Conservatoire using public transport, remember that if you are offered a place this is probably how you will be travelling between home and your place of study. Check the routes, timings and how many changes you will need and this will help with journey times. Book your train tickets early it’s less costly and you don’t run the risk of there being no seats available as I did trying to book a week before going to Cardiff.
It can be an anxious time but think of this as a new skill to master, the audition will be important to you and the anxiety you may feel is just because you are about to encounter something totally new in your life.
Ralph Strehle, a professor at the RCS once advised me to create a ‘positive list’. This is essentially a list of things people have said about my singing that they liked or thought were a strength. This could be comments from an exam critique, a teacher, a friend or audience member. The list may start off as just one bullet point, however it only takes a moment to realise that as your training progresses the list will grow. Reflecting on what’s good can improve your attitude, increase your optimism and boost your wellness.
Like preparing for an interview, research the school you are applying to. I know the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland voice department have a Facebook page now, on which they keep updates of what is going on and what our alumni our achieving. It can be quite exciting to see what is happening and can help you to form some informed questions that you would like to ask during your audition. But for these questions focus on what interests you and don’t be afraid to ask.
Check out the audition requirements for each Conservatoire as they will vary. Each will ask for a specific selection of song types but within each genre the song choice is yours. Some have a written exam and others may ask for a spoken monologue and a sight reading test so be prepared.
Most conservatories have two rounds and some possibly three. I can say without embarrassment that I didn’t get through every round at every conservatoire but I did at several others. We all are diverse and so are the Conservatoires. All you can do is be yourself and show them where you are at that moment in your journey and they will decide whether you are ready to work in their way.
Just remember that everybody’s voice develops at a different pace and there is no set age to join a Conservatoire. In my year there are a range of ages and it is OK and normal to re-apply if unsuccessful the first time around and you’ve set your heart on going to a Conservatoire, or to take time out before you commence the audition process. There are 16 vocalists in my year 11 girls and five boys, some Conservatoires take more at undergraduate and some take less but if singing is your passion then they are fabulous institutions to train at.
Lastly and probably the most important thing to remember on the day is that the audition panel are looking for keen students so remember that they want you to succeed.