Music School Auditions: It’s a Matter of Balance

by Katherine Pukinskis –

You did it! Whether it was December 1st or 15th, you hit “submit” and paid your fee. Your friends are already relaxing. Their winter break will be spent glued to that Project Runway marathon or watching Harry Potter 1 – 7 in one sitting, in one day. But you, you’re not even halfway done. You’re waiting for the letters that say you have been granted in-person music school auditions. Once you get those letters, a whole new kind of preparation starts.

Hopefully, you were thorough with your “Music School Application Table” in the fall, and you know which schools want to hear your pre-screening pieces or all new repertoire. Either way, you’re prepared. If not, it’s time to put it all together! January is not far away. In fact, it’s almost here.  Now is not the time to stop — if anything, it’s best to take this time to prepare yourself as well as you can so your auditions in January/February go as well as possible. The more comfortable you are with your rep, the more you can actually perform for the audition panel. It’s way more fun to play or sing when you really know your piece, rather than when you’re thinking, “What’s the next word?” or “Is it an F natural or F sharp in this next passage?” Because you’ve gotten this far in the process and are reading this post, I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced both. And you know that the prepared, confident performance is much more enjoyable for everyone. It’s really tough to be working when all of your friends aren’t, and when all you want to do is relax. And you’re probably exhausted, too! School, SATs, applications, sports, lessons — it’s been a busy fall and you just want two weeks of doing nothing. So by all means, relax! You’ve earned it. Plus, if you don’t relax a little, you’ll burn out before you’re halfway through auditions. It’s all about balance. Say you were spending eight hours a day in school, two hours on practicing/applications, and two hours for extracurriculars. Now that you’re on vacation, you’ve got eight to ten (or twelve) seemingly “free” hours to relax every day. My suggestion is to keep up your two hours of practice each day, but try to increase your practice time by a few hours, four days per week. Maybe do two practice sessions a day instead of one. You’ll still have plenty of time to sleep in and hang with friends. A little extra work now (when it’s not so tough to work those hours in) will make two hours a day seem like nothing once school starts up again. The audition season is a busy one, and your efforts during this break will help to even out the workload over the next six to ten weeks.


Katherine Pukinskis is currently working on a PhD in Music Composition at the University of Chicago, with a minor in ethnomusicology, basing her work in the Latvian choral tradition and its connections to cultural and national identity. Her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in composition are from Carnegie Mellon University, and her works have been featured throughout the U.S. and UK.

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