Theater, Acting, and Music Programs at College: Tips for Nailing the Audition

Students all across the country are busy preparing their college admissions packets with forms, essays, and letters of recommendation. However, if you’re looking to join any of the theater, acting, or music programs at college, you’ll need to complete another very important step in the admissions process: the audition.

Auditions are your chance to shine in front of your future professors and program leaders. Of course, admissions personnel will look at your entire application when deciding on your candidacy, but performing arts programs want to see what skills and talents you already have and can continue to develop.

For many universities, auditions are used to decide scholarship winners. If you want the best chance for a scholarship, come prepared to deliver an outstanding performance at your audition.

How to Prepare for Your Audition

Before scheduling your audition, check the department’s website to see what the audition requirements are. For example, there might be different requirements for vocal and instrumental auditions. Additionally, some theater and acting auditions may require you to perform a song in addition to a monologue. Check to see if you need to prepare a piece by a particular composer, within a certain genre, or of a specific length.

Showing up with the wrong type of music (or a piece that isn’t technical enough to show the full range of your capabilities) could impact the outcome of your audition. If you’re auditioning for a theater or acting program, the school may request more than one scene for your audition—so consider choosing monologues of different styles to show off a wider range of your abilities.

On the department’s website, you’ll find all of the requirements for the pieces you should prepare beforehand. Most programs also want to test your ability with material you’re seeing for the first time. Audition guidelines will also outline what skills the program is looking for, what style the performance should be in, and how long they will be. They’ll also detail exactly how many pieces of music or scenes you should prepare. Read the guidelines carefully and practice at home (or with an instructor) and you’ll be ready to face any challenges presented.

Dealing With Nerves at the Audition

An important key to a successful audition is simply trusting yourself. It’s normal to be nervous, but you’ve made it this far for a reason. Trust in your ability and studies up until this point. Reviewing the requirements thoroughly, selecting the right pieces, and practicing the necessary technical skills will help you walk onto the stage feeling prepared and confident.

The more you practice and prepare, the more secure in yourself and your abilities you will be. The result will likely be a smoother (and less stressful) performance.

Benefits of an In-Person Audition

Auditions are a necessary part of the world of performing arts and a process you’ll grow more comfortable with as you gain experience in the industry. A live audition with professors and instructors gives them the chance to get to know you and see if you’re a good fit for the college.

Erin Giesenhagen, director of prospective student engagement at Azusa Pacific University, highly recommends students audition in person, if possible. “This not only allows our faculty and students to get to know each other in a one-on-one setting, it’s also an opportunity for the student to get a feel for the school itself,” Giesenhagen says. “Students can take a tour, visit a class, talk to current students, and ask faculty questions. Auditions on campus also allow for a more complete audition.”

Keep in mind, the audition isn’t just about your performing talent. Professors that teach theater, acting, or music programs at college want to learn about you as an individual. An in-person audition can help you put your best foot forward. In fact, many schools use auditions to consider students for scholarships. APU offers the CMA Music Scholarship to all incoming music majors.

Take a few deep breaths before you start your audition and picture yourself succeeding. Be yourself, have fun, and do your best!