Meeting of the Minds

Have you ever had the feeling that someone is talking about you? Yeah . . . that would be us.

This weekend, the admissions directors of many of the top schools of music will be meeting in Seattle. It is a time for us to discuss ideas about recruitment and admissions and also get to know each other better.

This year, we will be discussing topics such as minority recruitment, the value of college fairs and online recruitment efforts. So here is a question for all of you reading: if you had the admissions directors from schools such as Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Manhattan and USC, what would you ask? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I plan to bring up any issues with my colleagues and will certainly let you know what they think.

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4 comments so far

  1. Mark Haun on

    I would ask them to describe how they evaluate auditions, and what really goes into the final decision to accept a student. It would be good to know how many seats were actually open for the instrument you played and the approximate acceptance rate. It is a major expense to travel to places like NYC to audition and sometimes you wonder if there are actually positions open for your instrument.
    Thank You.

  2. Michael Clark on

    I’m interested in how scholarships are distributed. It’s obviously different for public and private schools, but in general, how much is given to students based on merit?

  3. Kelly Fister on

    I see I’m a bit late in asking this, but perhaps it could be of some use at another time…

    In addition to what has already been mentioned, I’d be interested to know what goes into the decision NOT to accept a student.
    Obviously, the competition for top programs is extreme to the extent that a school/studio can only accept so many, but I’m curious as to which students might be cut first to diminish the applicant pool. Which factors raise the biggest red flags throughout the application/audition process? How exactly does faculty progressively reduce the total number of applicants to the few who will be chosen?
    Skill in the performance medium is pretty much understood as a requirement (though if there are specific technical flaws heard too often, I’m sure we’d all love to know what they are), so I’m mainly curious about details beyond the obvious. What factors might be harmful to one’s odds of acceptance that he/she may not expect?
    In short, what NOT to do when applying to music school…what are the most common mistakes and misconceptions? How can they be avoided?

    I imagine some harsh realities in the answer, but I think acknowledgement of these may aid in careful decision-making when it comes time to apply for schools.

  4. danhassler on

    Mark – While this may not be what you want to hear, audition evaluations a quite subjective. Faculty are looking for students with a certain level of skill, but also looking for students that they can work with. Sometimes, students are not admitted because the faculty doesn’t feel that they would be a good teacher for that student.

    Regarding the number of spaces open, there is a reason that this is rarely publicized. The reason is that studios are at least a little flexible and an outstanding applicant may be cause for taking an extra student. Often though, if you ask the faculty member directly, they will let you know if they have space.

    Michael – Scholarships are very different by institution. Some schools are purely merit-based and offered scholarships based only on the audition. Some schools are purely need based and don’t considered musical ability. Most schools, however, when I asked at our meeting, said that it is a combination need and merit that determines scholarships. There is no set formula but again, you can always ask when you apply.

    Kelly – From what I’ve seen of auditions, most faculty have a very clear idea of the students that they wish to admit after the audition. The majority of this decision comes from the audition itself. Sometimes, there will be a need to admit a few more or a few less. In these cases, most faculty look closely at letters of recommendations and transcripts. Often the deciding factor comes from experiences such as youth orchestras and the like.

    Thank you all for your great questions. Look for new posts soon!


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