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Advice from an Alum: The College Audition Trail!

September 6, 2019

After 10 years of teaching high school vocalists to #SingtheSongbook here at the Songbook Academy, we have built a network of alumni who have gone on to pursue performance degrees from Vocal Jazz to Musical Theatre at the nation's top university and conservatory Arts programs.  Our alums know the ins and outs of not only applying for their dream schools, but auditioning for their respective programs, and ultimately surviving the rigorous curriculum that successfully prepares them for a professional career in the Arts! 


Interested in viewing a list of schools attended by Songbook alumni?  Click here.


So what does that have to do with YOU?  We know that you, whether you are an alum, a prospective applicant or a parent, probably have some of the same questions that our graduated alums and families had when they were entering the world of "College Auditions".  With that in mind, we asked one of our amazing alums Lucy Breedlove, who recently began her first year pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre at Otterbein University, to take us through her experience and give us the inside scoop that SHE wished she would have had a year ago when she first started the college audition process!  Stay tuned each week as she takes us through all stages of the process: Choosing Schools, Academic Applications, Pre-Screens, Audition Material, Scheduling, Unifieds, Setting up your Book, Audition Day, Thank Yous and Letting Go!   


A note from Lucy: "To say that the college application process is daunting for any performing arts major is an understatement. My mom and I both felt lost after hearing about all that the musical theatre track required, and most of our help came from talking to those who had just finished their auditions and had immediate advice to offer. I hope that this blog series will be useful to anyone thinking about continuing their arts career, and that it provides some clarity for what can be an overwhelming process!  Enjoy!"


Step 1: Choosing Schools


The first step in the audition process is to choose which schools you want to apply to. DO YOUR RESEARCH — look through the playbills of your favorite broadway/regional shows and see which alums are working; look up what a school’s faculty has done; look at where your favorite actors went to school, who was working while they were in school and then find where they work now (chances are they’ve moved programs!). Be sure to include some variance of reputation/difficulty level. For example, just because you apply to all ivies doesn’t necessarily mean that your chances of getting in at any single one will increase.


It’s important to decide roughly what type of school you’re looking for. Whether it’s a conservatory, conservatory style in a liberal arts setting, or a larger university with their own program (or any other possibility), it’s better to know where you would be okay going to school than be forced to choose between two conservatories at the end of your process when you know ahead of time that you don’t want to spend four years in a conservatory setting.


A great way to find out what what you prefer is by touring a few different kinds of schools junior year. It’s not really worth making rounds to your entire list if you’re going to audition on campus then probably tour again later senior year, but it’s definitely a good investment to spend the day on a few campuses to find for yourself what you definitely do and don’t want.


Musical Theatre or anything performance related is typically the most competitive major at each school, so apply carefully. Don’t add schools just to add them, but also don’t audition at only one. There are definitely success stories of kids who audition at only one or a few schools, but if you’re like me and need the peace of mind that your probability of going to college is higher, then apply to a range and what seems like a safe amount (whatever that means to you). For reference, my final number for MT was 21 which seemed to be on the higher end of average for girls. My best friend applied for acting and started with 10 then withdrew some applications after she got into her first choice, and my guy friend for MT did 11. Another girl friend of mine did 4, so you’ll be fine wherever your instincts take you!


What's next?  Tips on Academic Applications, from the Common App to writing your college essays!  Read Lucy's next blog here.


Lucy hails from Vienna, Virginia and recently graduated from James Madison High School.  She attended the Songbook Academy in 2017 and 2018, and will be attending Otterbein University this fall to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre.