Music School Auditions: 4 Tips for Parents

Music School Auditions: 4 Tips for Parents

Jenna Simeonov
As a follow-up to my recent 5 Tips for University Auditionees, I wanted to extend advice to the parents of young singers. You're supportive, you travel long distances with your kids, and you wait around all day as they do their audition thing. Here are a few etiquette tips for parents, from the mouths of professional pianists who play auditions all day long.

1. Encourage your son/daughter to contact their audition pianist themselves

From a practical side, pianists sift through a lot of email conversations, many of which are with people we haven’t yet met in person. It’s helpful to be communicating with the name that matches the auditionee, instead of talking via a parent, and trying to remember their names as well. It’s also a matter of professionalism; if your son or daughter are pursuing post-secondary education in singing, the process of organizing audition details is one of the skills they’ll need to learn on their own.

2. Your son/daughter’s pianist thinks their audition is important, too

This is something I’ve encountered in my own career. Parents are looking out for their kids, making sure that the pieces of the audition day puzzle fall into place. This can manifest in an attitude directed at the audition pianist, which implies that they can’t be trusted with the seriousness of the situation. Within my circle of colleagues, it’s a consensus that yes, undergraduate entrance auditions are an important thing. It’s in our job description to be on time and play well for our clients, and our experience in playing auditions doesn’t mean we take them less seriously; it means we know what the auditionee needs.

3. Let us have a private rehearsal with our client

Your son/daughter will only get 20-30 minutes of rehearsal time with their pianist, a stranger, before they go in a sing a big audition. I think that time is best spent in a private rehearsal. I’ve met some singers who prefer to have their parent(s) present for their rehearsal with me, but it’s wise to assume that parents will not be in the room. This way, your son/daughter can focus on the task with someone who’s unbiased and part of the music scene they want to get into.

4. We don’t know how the audition “really” went

In most cases, the pianist doesn’t get to hear anything that the panel says to your son/daughter, since we usually get kicked out of the audition room before the conversation begins. Even so, the audition won’t be solely based on how well they sang (grades, available spots, available funding, etc., are also factors), and since an audition pianist probably hadn’t heard your son/daughter sing before, they can’t really give feedback on “how they sang” just now. I wish we could be your personal audition spy, but we’re just not that cool.

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