Preparing for Graduate School Part 2: Adequate Preparation

Without a doubt, the best way to ensure a great audition and application experience for graduate school is adequate preparation. As I see it, there are two big ways to do this: organizational/application prep, and audition/mental prep. One thing I was I had done a little better would be organizing my materials and pre-screening requirements long before the applications were due (Dec. 1 in many cases). I recall checking one school’s website a few days before the deadline to find differing information on pre-screening requirements than the previous time I had looked. That being said, here are my suggestions for your best preparation:

Organizational/Application

Narrow down your schools (maybe 1 safety, 2 attainable, and 1-2 reach). Of course this is just a suggestion allowing the most open of options after the audition.

Lessons and emails with professors- contact early on, ask questions, ask for possible lesson and be understanding if they can’t do it.

List of requirements. What I suggest you do here is to get the app Evernote or some sort of file that you can have on paper and on a mobile device, this way it’s accessible in lessons and practice rooms, etc.

  • Does the school have prescreening? If so, what are the requirements and what is the date? Get the exact materials and formats for uploading (sound file, pdf, video).
  • Audition date(s)?
  • How many letters of recommendation does the school request? Email your professors at least a month out for this.
  • Do they need a resumé or a repertoire list? Save your programs! (Sample Rep List)
  • Do they require essays? PDF format?
  • Fees? Consider fees for sending transcripts as well.
  • Do they require the GRE?
  • Is there a separate Teaching Assistant application or a separate application for the graduate school and school of music?

Travel plans

  • Drive or fly?
  • Arrive at least a day before your audition to relax and get some good sleep.
  • Money can be a big factor in where you apply as you will need to find a way to get there.
  • Email your university professors a month ahead of time asking to be absent from class if need be. Send a reminder email a week out.
  • Figure out a place to play your instrument before. (I played in my car outside of a hotel in Michigan… until someone told me they couldn’t sleep because of it)

Audition/Mental

Prepare material you can play well, even if it seems easy. Any panel would prefer to hear a solid performance where they can hear your musical voice rather than a battle for notes.

Understand that the panel wants you to succeed and have a great performance. Nobody is rooting for you to stumble, they want to hear you play well.

Practice the way you want to perform.

Have fun, what’s the point if playing music isn’t enjoyable and rewarding.

The next post will be discussing the audition and how not to psych yourself out! Stay tuned for more to come and some suggestions on reading for audition success.

Published by Andrew Dougherty

Andrew Dougherty is a native of Gainesville, Virginia, and joined the tuba section of The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in December of 2020. He previously was a member of the West Point Band, which he joined in November of 2017. He holds a Bachelor of Music from George Mason University, where he studied under Andrew Hitz, and a Master of Music from the University of Maryland, where he studied under David Fedderly. Andrew formerly played with Brass of the Potomac, the ITEA winning tuba and euphonium quartet NOVATEQ, and other band, orchestral, and chamber ensembles around the Washington, D.C. area. As an educator, Andrew has taught masterclasses at the Bard Conservatory of Music, and at the Tanglewood Institute, while maintaining a private studio of dedicated students. Prior to joining the military music field, Andrew was selected to perform as principal tuba with the Disney All-American College Band of 2014 in Anaheim, California, under the direction of Ron McCurdy. As a student, he won the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Mock Band Audition, and was selected for the United States Air Force Band’s Collegiate Symposium.

One thought on “Preparing for Graduate School Part 2: Adequate Preparation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: