This post originally appeared as a guest contribution to My Town Tutors.
Flute is a very popular instrument, so the competition during any audition is tough. When you play an instrument with so many individuals jockeying for so few available spaces, simply playing the audition music well isn't enough. Bearing this in mind, how do you help your private flute students stand out from the crowd and achieve their goals? You help them bring something extra to the table.
Always prepare your students for the next level. When they're in middle school, lay the foundation for high-school level skills. Explain to them the value of memorizing scales and practicing etudes as a way to learn the patterns and building blocks of music so that mastering pieces can happen quickly and efficiently.
When they're in high school, teach them how to think about music in a deep and analytical way instead of just playing it note-to-note. Talk about style with your students; help them see how the way music was played during different periods of history varies greatly from one era to the next, and what that means for the particular pieces your students are learning. Any high schooler can handle the basics of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic style; challenge your students to create the biggest contrast possible between these different idioms!
Encourage responsible, mature behavior. If you have a student auditioning for college, make sure they send a polite, concise email to their potential teacher requesting a meeting or trial lesson. This helps the student establish a connection and gives their potential teacher some context during the audition. If the student willingly accepts and applies suggestions made during their trial lesson, it shows commitment and makes them a more appealing candidate for admission.
Always make sure your students send a thank-you note to whoever took the time to hear their audition. Help your students see that what comes before and after audition day is just as important as how they perform their music; often, these connections are what tip the scales in favor of one student over another.
Don't let the audition environment come as a surprise to your students! Do mock auditions. The key here is in the plural; do as many mock auditions as your student needs to feel at ease in the situation. Practice how to walk into the audition room and how to make a graceful exit. Talk about the value of verbally thanking the jury before you leave the room. The jury will pick up on this level of confidence and ease, and it will show in your student's audition score.
If you have a flute student preparing for college, consider adding The Conservatory Boot Camp Workbook to their weekly practice regimen. This self-guided audition companion is suitable for any instrumentalist looking to stand out from the rest and get into their school of choice. It is available for purchase here.