Time Tone Tune Style: Music Audition Tips from Three UAlberta Pros
The first round of auditions for the University of Alberta’s BMUS and BMUS/BEd programs are upon us this week. The second round of auditions will take place May 1 and 2, so if you have not yet signed up, see Music’s website for details and submit your application. The deadline to apply is April 1. I’ve gathered tips and advice from associate professors Dr. Angela Schroeder, Dr. Guillaume Tardif, and Dr. Patricia Tao on what a successful audition looks like. Take these pro tips to heart and good luck!
~ Joanna Manchur, UAlberta Fine Arts Recruitment Coordinator
- Dr. Angela Shroeder
- Dr. Guillaume Tardif
- Dr. Patricia Tao
Dr. Angela Schroeder is Coordinator of the Winds and Percussion Area as well as the conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Academy Winds and Percussion and Concert Band. Dr. Guillaume Tardif is Coordinator of the String Area, and was recognized as one of Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2012 for his varied involvement in the community, including his engaging performance style with the Enterprise Quartet. Dr. Patricia Tao is Coordinator of the Keyboard Area. She is a pianist who leads an active life as a teacher, concert organizer and performer. Her trio, Trio Voce, continues to perform throughout North America.
The audition process is comparable to public performances. What does that mean for you?
Angela Schroeder: We are looking for students with a demonstrated ability both artistically and technically, and with potential for growth. This does not always mean the most difficult repertoire or highest grade level, but a person with depth of musical understanding and preparation on their chosen repertoire.
Choose pieces that demonstrate the BEST of your playing ability, and that provide the panel with many elements to consider, including technical, musical and stylistic variety. Most upper level repertoire provides contrast between movements or sections of a composition, but it is up to you to make the most of your time.
Patricia Tao: For pianists, this usually means a technically polished performance from memory, that also shows a good understanding of the style of each piece performed.
How should a student prepare for the audition?
Preparation and practice are key. Photo by Curtis Comeau.
Guillaume Tardif: Prepare well, in three steps:
1) Learn the text
2) Interpret the text
3) Simply play (adapted from Galamian’s Principles)
Patrica Tao: Show yourself in your best light. Good preparation is crucial! Perform your audition pieces as often as possible before the actual audition. Depending on the program you apply for, some of you may have to sight-read, so practice this at home.
Angela Schroeder: For sight-reading, take adequate time before beginning. We expect you to take a few minutes to look through the chosen excerpt. Choose a reading tempo that you can maintain, and try not to stop once you’ve begun.
Having a solid grasp of the fundamentals is clearly important. What does that look and sound like to you?
Guillaume Tardif: Time-Tone-Tune-Style.
Patricia Tao: A poised and polished performance will help you communicate your skills and understanding of the music.
The audition is about 20 minutes in length, and will include time for the panel to ask questions as well as for you to ask questions of the panel. How should applicants prepare for this interview portion of the audition?
Guillaume Tardif: Be yourself. We are not in a hurry.
Patricia Tao: We just want to learn more about you, and to make sure you are ready for our programs. We want to ensure students will be successful.
Any final words of advice?
Angela Schroader: The audition experience is a professional one, so dress professionally, introduce yourself to the entire committee, and make eye contact with them.
We like to get a feel for the person that you are, so be yourself and remember that you are auditioning us as much as we are auditioning you. It needs to be a good fit for everyone, and in order to determine that, you need to put yourself out there musically and personally.
Patricia Tao: We look forward to meeting and hearing everyone!
About UAlberta’s BMUS and MBUS / BEd Auditions:
The audition requires you to perform on your chosen instrument or voice, and where appropriate you should have an accompanist perform with you (orchestral instruments/voice).
Prepare specifically for your area (strings/piano/winds/percussion/voice). A detailed list of required elements is provided on our website. The requirements are different by area. Consult these guidelines carefully.
About UAlberta’s BMUS and BMUS/BEd programs:
The Bachelor of Music program is the most intensive of programs offered by the University of Alberta Department of Music. Admission is competitive and based on a successful performance audition, the successful completion of theory and keyboard proficiency examinations, and meeting the academic entrance requirements.
The BMUS combined with the Bachelor of Education (Elementary or Secondary) program is a rigorous program, offering a combination of music and education courses, resulting is the granting of two degrees at the end of five years. Visit the Department of Music website to learn more about these programs.
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