Looking at the title, can you guess why I haven’t written on my blog very often lately…
For the past month, I have been running all over New York City auditioning for precollege music programs. The precollege programs are basically another day of school built in on Saturdays, except it is a whole day of musical training, performing and theory classes. I auditioned for three specific schools: The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes College of Music. I had been preparing for these auditions for over a year with various voice teachers, and they finally came at the end of last month and the beginning of this month.
In total, I took six auditions. All of them were within 15 days of each other. A lot of school was missed, there were a lot of nerves, but in the end, there was joy:
It started on Saturday, May 18th with Manhattan School of Music. I was welcomed with open arms at that first audition, because I not only found the atmosphere warm and close-knit, but I said hello to several of my friends from the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus. I knew from there, that if I got in here, it would feel like family!
My audition there went very well. I sang “Lachen und Weinen” by Franz Schubert and “Silent Noon” by Ralph Vaughan Williams. There were seven people on the committee, and it was in a beautiful room with long windows, and a great view of Riverside Park. No questions were asked, I just sang and left.
10 days later on May 28th, I received an email saying that I was scheduled for a callback audition on June 1st! I was so excited!!!
Three days later on May 21st, I auditioned for the Juilliard School. Having it placed right next to Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera already gave me a warm feeling inside. I did see one fellow Met Children’s Chorus member, and I knew from prior knowledge that more were auditioning. My audition took place in a giant ballet studio, with giant windows and giant walls, making me feel like the smallest molecule in the universe. There were three people on the jury. I sang the same two songs that I did at Manhattan School of Music, and I also sang “Già il sole dal Gange” by Alessandro Scarlatti. This time, questions were asked. They were mostly about my musical background, and it was kind of funny pointing out the window saying that I had sung in the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus next door! The auditioned ended and I left!
That night I received an email: I had gotten a first callback for the Juilliard School. I was thrilled!
Audition #3: My Juilliard Callback audition happened on May 23rd, two days later. This audition was much different. First of all, I had to take music theory and ear training placement tests. If I were to go to any of the schools, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes included, I would have to take music theory and ear training. They each gave placement tests for both, so it would be easier to organize classes for those accepted. I took each of the exams at Juilliard, finding ear training to be challenging, but theory to be a piece of cake. Then the audition:
This audition was MUCH different than the one before it. First, I sang “Lachen und Weinen” with my glasses off! I couldn’t see! I guess she wanted to see my expressions…? Then I did acting, and took my shoes off! I played the “mirror game”, where you imitate someone and they imitate you back, with a Juilliard college student. There was yelling, there was jumping, all of the typical things you would do at a singing audition. After that, they tested my range, I went up to a high E. Then they did rhythmic exercises. Then I said the words to “Silent Noon” like a poem, sang it, and finally, they said, “Thank you, very nice audition”. After all that, that audition was over!
On the evening of Friday, May 24th, I received another email: I had gotten a SECOND callback for Juilliard….it would take place at the home of Juilliard’s precollege main voice teacher. Wow! They never mentioned second callbacks in the papers I signed, but I was obviously lucky to have one!
Audition #4: My second callback audition for Juilliard was on May 29th. My parents and I found the teacher’s apartment and went inside. This time, I was really wondering, is this really an audition? Could this be an interview for how interested I am in going? What is this?! I walked inside the apartment, and it felt like I was walking into any friend’s apartment that lives in New York City. I sang my three pieces, and the jury tested me on different things. Making pianissimos, crescendoing, etc. They also tested me on vocal warm-ups, scales, and how quickly I could pick up on what they wanted. In this audition, I felt more like a science experiment, where they could observe me and take notes on my progress. I guess any audition is really like that, but this one especially felt like I was in laboratory. Even with the scientific thoughts, I finished my audition, and left!
Audition #5: Remember Manhattan School of Music? After three consecutive auditions at Juilliard, I finally had my callback audition at Manhattan School of Music on June 1st. I took their ear training and music theory placement tests, and found a boiling hot, unairconditioned practice room. The audition took place in a much smaller room. No bigs windows or great views. They had asked callbacks to prepare an art song and an aria, so I sang “Vedrai Carino” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and I sang “Silent Noon” again. They also wanted to hear “Lachen und Weinen”, which I put down on my forms. They stopped me in the middle of “Lachen und Weinen” to say they had heard enough, so I thanked them and left.
You must have a great memory if you remember that I said I was auditioning for this place called “Mannes College of Music”. This audition took place on Sunday, June 2nd. Mannes, unlike Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, is tucked in a side street on West 85th street. So, when I walked in, it felt like I was going into an apartment building. It was much, much smaller than the other schools. I took their theory and ear training exams because they did not have callbacks where people could take them. I warmed up, and I gave my tempos to their provided accompanist. I walked in the audition room with dimmed lighting and greeted the jury. I told them I was going to sing “Lachen und Weinen” and “Silent Noon”, neither of which they had heard of. I motioned for the pianist to start and she did. Probably at least 50 meters under the tempo I gave her. I thought, “Should I stop? They haven’t heard of the song before..”. But by the time I had thought of that, I had to come in for my cue. So a song that would have taken a minute and half, probably took more than three minutes to perform. “Silent Noon” went more smoothly than the other piece. I finished my audition, and since the jury was made up of all women, I got gushes of “Where did you get that dress? Let me see the back? Oooo so pretty!”. Hey, at least they were friendly!
So now all of these auditions are over and are behind me….but what happened?!
Here you go:
I am going to Manhattan School of Music for Precollege Voice!!!
Yes, I am going to be in a precollege voice program next year at Manhattan School of Music. I received the email on June 6th. Not long after, I received an email from Juilliard: I had been rejected. However, the rejection letter surprisingly was very nice, saying basically that one can succeed in the music world without Juilliard. It was the warmest rejection letter I had ever received.
The next day, I got an email from Mannes: I had been accepted! I knew from the start that I had wanted to go to Manhattan School of Music more, because of the atmosphere, the teachers, and all the people that I know that have gone there for school. I kindly sent them a letter saying I would not attend their school, and put my “Yes, I will be attending Manhattan School of Music” letter in the same mailbox.
It was a life-changing experience auditioning for all of these schools. The best way to practice being a singer or any musician really, and getting rid of stage fright, is auditioning. Waiting and waiting and waiting for emails is also good practice for the world of music. Auditioning is the best practice any musician can use. I am thrilled that I will be attending Manhattan School of Music in the fall. It will make the end of summer a bit easier.
….and yes, I will be back blogging regularly now…I apologize if my last month was preventing me from doing so 😉