How High School Musicians are Dealing with College Auditions

FSSA Senior Instrumentalist, Jose Dominguez

While the class of 2021 is busy sending in their college applications, some students are sending in their music applications for music programs. Musicians more than ever are grinding on their music skills with all this free time. But sometimes the recording process can be very overwhelming. New York City high school students are more worried than ever before if they will be accepted into their musical dream schools.

Many Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) instrumentalists are applying for a Bachelors in Music Performance. While they still have to go through the regular admissions process, all schools also require students to send in video recordings. 

This year, seniors were firm on what they wanted to pursue. Some already knew they wanted a career in music. By September, most already had a general idea of their lists of schools they were applying to: Peabody, University of Texas, Juilliard, Queens College, NYU, and Berklee. However, not every student has the same amount of pieces to prepare. Brass students have about two etudes, two solos, and four orchestral excerpts to prepare, while string instruments have about one solo, two etudes, and two excerpts/supplements to prepare. For composition students, some schools may require two to six compositions

Most big deadlines were December 1st, which for most instrumentalists meant submitting a pre-screening video. However, four students in FSSA decided to do mock auditions back in November. Jose Dominguez (violin) suggested the idea of doing mock auditions where students would present their videos to each other in order to calm some nerves. Enzo Cetti (trumpet) hosted the event on Zoom. Other participants like Josiah Whittaker (violin) stated that sharing his videos made recording sessions a bit easier.

For a composition student, they would get random surges of inspiration, but deal with writer’s block the next day. However, they suggested having some type of recording device to recall back a cool melody that popped up.

Since most students started recording in the third week of November, the pressure was on. A private music teacher noted that COVID-19 has changed the message of music, since there’s still that energy, but there is that waiting for an audience that can make students feel shaky. 

Most students stated that the first video was the most frustrating, since there always needs to be better. Raphael Painson mentioned how the first couple hours he felt he was focused on the wrong things when he recorded.

For others, it was required to move furniture to help with the acoustics, as Jose stated. However, by the end of the recordings, everyone felt so relieved and satisfied with their videos.

Virginie Zhang (bass trombone) mentioned that her music is now engraved, and the music rings in her brain the days after recording. Since COVID-19 is impacting everyone, some musicians decided to give some advice for the next generation of online musicians.

Aziza Cazaubon (trumpet) suggests students have their pieces prepared by the summer before senior year. Jose and Enzo reinforced this idea by stating that waiting last minute will make you more stressed.

Zhang advises musicians to be comfortable with their pieces, and Painson stated that if you practice enough your situation won’t be complicated. 

– by Itzy Uranga ’21