College Auditions: Do I Really Need To Train?
Getting into college can be a stressful process for any high school senior. Between the applications and trying to raise your test scores, any senior can start feeling the weight of applying for college. To top it all off, those desiring to pursue a performance based degree in college have another set of hoops they need to jump through. Every year the demands for young performing arts majors gets tougher. Don’t panic, there is help out there!
One of the biggest questions I get asked by parents and students is “Do I really need to train in order to get into a good college program?” I always follow this question with another ” What are your expectations of a college program?” If they want an extensive program that is competitive and has a high Alumni success rate then my answer is “Yes”!
So, now that you know training is a necessary step in your college audition process, what do you do? Well, the 4 steps below will help guide you to a success!
Step 1: Get into a dance class….or two!
Preferably, you will have been taking dance before your senior year but if not, enroll asap! Register for a ballet class and if you have time in your schedule, get yourself to a jazz class as well. Classes like hip-hop and tap are fun, and if you have the extra time they are an added bonus, but they should not replace your ballet or jazz class. Some college departments will require a dance pre-screen, that will need to be recorded by early fall in most cases. Some of these schools will also have a ballet bar as part of the requirements. Each program is different in the amount of dance technique they are looking for in a college hopeful. However, I don’t know of one program that will not look on you fondly for being a good mover. This step applies to the strict Actors as well.
The best acting programs are highly physical and the more in tune you are with your body the better prepared you will be.
Step 2: Find a qualified voice teacher
You will need to be in the best vocal health you can be in during your senior year. A qualified voice teacher will not only pick you amazing songs for your auditions but will make sure your instrument is finely tuned, healthy, and ready to go! College vocal auditions are unique, and so it is important to work with someone who has coached other college audition hopefuls. So, when looking for a voice teacher ask questions and make sure they are the perfect fit for you. More and more college programs are requiring vocal pre-screens which usually consist of either a 16/32 bar cut of a contemporary musical theatre selection and a 16/32 bar cut of a pre-1960/1965 piece.
Actors, I know you are thinking that you can skip this step, right? Well, I would challenge you to get in with a vocal teacher as well. There are college programs that want a song from acting major hopefuls as part of their audition process.
Just like with the body, the voice in an important tool that you want to be in great shape!
Step 3: Search for an experienced private acting coach
The monologue can be a dreaded entity for many performers. How can you find a good one that isn’t overused? Well, a private acting teacher can not only find you amazing material that will suit your type but will also coach you on how to break them down and master your performance. A qualified private acting coach will also help you to break down the acting in all of your songs so that your whole audition package is in tip-top shape.
As a private acting coach myself, I also help my college auditioners with things like the interview process and how to handle re-directs. Just like with your voice teacher, try to find an acting coach that has coached college auditioners in the past. The college audition is not like auditioning for a show, it requires a separate set of skills to find the right monologues that will get you noticed by college departments. If you can’t find a qualified teacher in your hometown consider teachers that do Skype/online lessons.
It is better to have great advice from 100 miles away than mediocre advice in the same room as you!
Step 4: College Audition Advisement
Make sure that your team understand the difference between show auditions and college auditions. The college auditions are unlike any other audition you have been on or will go on. It is the one time that you are not auditioning for a role. This process is one that allows college departments to see who YOU are and what YOU will be bringing to the table if they accept you into their program. So, that being said, it is ideal for your entire team to be trained in the college audition process (acting coach, voice teacher and dance instructor) but if not all of them, try to have a private acting or voice coach that knows the process, has previous experience, and can guide you.
Make sure that someone on your team can give you extra guidance through the whole process (school selection, pre-screens, audition clothing, etc…) There are many programs that you can find online that will help guide you through the college audition process. However, they are NOT all created equal! Make sure that you are not overpaying for generic information and that the services that you seek will be guiding you as an individual and is doing what is best for you.
So, now that you have some facts let me put things into perspective. People often think that you shouldn’t have to train to get into college, and though there are some people that will get into programs with nothing more than raw talent, there are far more that are being passed up each year because they are not as prepared as the person standing next to them. We do not think twice when we hear of a young athlete and all the training they have to endure to try and get recruited for a college program. Pitching coaches, physical therapy, batting coaches, elite camps and a plethora of other speciality training are the norm. Knowing how competitive the collegiate arts programs are, why should the artist not train just as hard and have a team of coaches by their side during the process?
So, grab your planner, research like crazy, get your team ready, and start making those calls to get yourself equipped for YOUR college audition season!