College Auditions: The Student Perspective, Part III

Much has changed since we last checked in on our talented seniors this past January. All three have completed their high school careers in various states of quarantine while trying to make decisions about where to go to college (you can read Part I and Part II by clicking on the hyperlinks).

We caught up with them this past week as they prepare for graduation. We’re happy to report back on their experience of deciding where to continue their education.

Name: Anna Bakun
Hometown: Beaverton, OR
Age: 17

Name: Maleah Moon
Hometown: Somerset, NJ
Age: 17

Name: Isaac Tardy
Hometown: Palmyra, Maine
Age: 17

Have you decided where you’ll be attending in the Fall?

Anna: I’ll be attending Carnegie Mellon University for their BFA Acting/Music Theatre. I am THRILLED!

Maleah: Yes, I’ll be attended Pace University School of Performing Arts.

Isaac: I will be attending Boston Conservatory at Berklee College Of Music to pursue my BFA in Musical Theatre.

What were the deciding factors?

Maleah: 1) How much money was offered; 2) Inclusivity (LGBTQ+, diversity, POC feel cared for as all students should feel, etc…); 3) Attending student and alumni testimonials and experiences.

Anna: A healthy mix of financial factors, talking to alumni, current students, faculty, and looking at how the overall curriculum would suit my needs as a performer.

Isaac: Throughout this audition process, you will hear a common phrase of encouragement: “You will end up where you need to be.” I always rolled my eyes when someone said this to me, until I truly ended up where I needed to be. As soon as I left the audition room, I knew it was the right place for me. While on campus at BoCo, I had the pleasure of meeting the MT program chair. Interacting with her directly in the audition room was such a rewarding experience. In my opinion, no other audition compared to the warmth of the audition room at Boston Conservatory. Knowing that I would be in such a caring environment was very important to me. When looking at my options, I wanted a program that would challenge me in all aspects of theatre. Not only does BoCo train their students intensively in acting, singing, and dancing, they also allow you to pursue other interests such as directing and casting. The students at this school are like no other. Their open minds and willingness to chat gave me such a warm feel for this program. BoCo was where I wanted to be from the moment I stepped on campus and met the students and staff.

What do you wish you had known going into your audition experiences?

Isaac: I had coaches tell me time after time to just have fun. It wasn’t until my final auditions that I allowed this to sink in. Remember that you have prepared and put in the work, now all you can do is present it in an authentic way. The people sitting behind the table don’t want to just see a character you put on, they want to see the authentic you. I remember at one of my final auditions I was going into a dance call that I had been told was the hardest dance call of the audition season. Instead of getting nervous and freaking myself out, I kept a positive mindset and decided to just have a good time. In the long run I really had nothing to lose. This ended up being my best dance call, and I left the room with a confident smile on my face. Have fun, be authentic to yourself, and make every moment your own.

Maleah: Prepare more monologues! I remembered to prepare my repertoire but having extra monologues is often overlooked.

Anna: Honestly, I don’t know if there’s anything I want to say, because it was really important for my audition journey that everything built on itself. I made some good old mistakes my first audition (always check your accompaniment keys BEFORE an hour to call, people) but I also think that I really learned from that experience for life!

What advice would you give to friends planning to audition for musical theatre programs next year?

Anna: Do! Your! Research! I saw a lot of people not knowing the specifics of the school they were auditioning for, and when it showed, IT SHOWED. Every school has a different process and requirements and audition styles etc, and not bringing the right monologue or song just looks bad, period. While chilling in an audition room and being your authentic self is wonderful and comfortable and fun, there’s no space in a 10 minute audition to not follow simple audition requirements.

Also, I got asked a lot of questions like, “Why XYZ University/Conservatory?” And it always helped to know specifics that I could tie into my answer. And truly, if I wanted to go there, I wanted to know everything about those schools! You are auditioning them just as much as they are auditioning you. At the end of the day, you make the final decision on where you are going.

Maleah: Start early with preparing material so that you can take things at a nice pace (as opposed to scrambling the month before to find good pieces). Also, the longer you sit with material, the more time you have to tweak and really get comfortable with it. Similarly, the more comfortable you are with your pieces, the more confident you feel when audition season comes, and the better you’ll do. Remember: THEY need YOU, you do not need them. they need a graduating class and you will end up where you need to be. Lastly, you don’t need to audition for 25 schools just because everyone else is. The audition process is both mentally and financially expensive, so do your research and pick a number YOU feel comfortable with. I had about 20 possible schools but I only really wanted to audition for 5, so that’s what I did. NYU, Carnegie, Rider, Marymount, Pace. I got into 4 of them and got to go to my dream school. You can do this! We believe in you.

Isaac: It is important to let yourself breathe and recognize how challenging the process can be emotionally and physically. Never be afraid to ask for help and advice when you need it.  One of my close friends who went through the process said something that has really stuck with me: “Leave every room brighter than you found it.” I truly believe that if you live by this philosophy, the audition process can be enjoyable and rewarding. Never hesitate to reach out to other students who have gone through this process before you, and absolutely reach out to students who are going through the process at the same time as you. It helps to know the people who are experiencing all the same anxieties as you and it is important to have open dialogues about these.

What advice would you give to teachers and parents who are supporting students auditioning for musical theatre programs?

Maleah: Don’t breathe down their neck – they’re already under enough emotional stress as they’re approaching the next pivotal phase of their lives. Do some research so you can help them along in an educated fashion and give them all the support you possibly can. They need it.

Anna: I’m sure it’s obvious, but please be patient with us. This was probably one of the single most stressful things I’ve ever done in my life. To send a piece of art – a tiny part of yourself – our into a big scary world is really exposing. You’re deliberately inviting rejection into your most vulnerable state, and it causes a lot of stress!!

I was lucky – I had what I believe to be the single most amazing team of all time for my auditions. And while I might be a little biased, I know that the very best thing about these people is that they made me feel supported and comfortable and happy in a crazy two months full of travel and ups and downs like nobody could possibly imagine.

Every kid is different, and I saw a lot of different parents do things a lot of different ways. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to listen to what your kid/student is really saying. I promise, we’re doing our best.

Isaac: I think the most important thing for teachers and parents to remember is that these students are going through three times the process of normal college admissions. College auditions can become extremely pricey and it is sadly a pay to play game. Don’t let the prices get the best of the situation. Look at unified auditions and don’t be afraid to contact the schools directly to discuss fee waivers. This process should be accessible to everyone. I urge you not to become intimidated by the travel and scheduling. It can become very overwhelming, but if your student is committed to staying organized, they will find success. The best way to stay organized is a simple spreadsheet with all the schools, costs, and requirements listed. This spreadsheet will become a go to resource and you can reference it easily.

***

We’re grateful to each of these talented seniors for sharing their audition and decision process with us. We hope you’ve found this series helpful, whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent. Please consider our book as a resource when you have further questions about the college audition musical theatre process.

We wish Anna, Maleah, and Isaac the best with their studies and can’t wait to celebrate their many successes!


available on Amazon

Check out the updated edition of our book “Mastering College Musical Theatre Auditions: Sound Advice for the Student, Teacher, and Parent.” The second edition includes more than double the repertoire recommendations, updated summer intensive listings around the country and internationally, and recent developments with common pre-screens, Unified Auditions, and financial aid offerings. Available now on Amazon

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Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 600+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.

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