Auditions without audiences

Amelia Nored, Editorial Board Member

For most seniors applying to colleges this year, the admission process isn’t much different because applying to colleges has always been done online. But how are performing arts students auditioning for colleges when auditions traditionally take place on campus?

Most performing arts auditions begin with a pre-screening that students send to colleges online. 

“For scholarship students, there is a pretty rigorous screening process that includes the usual GPA, application letter, and recommendations, as well as admissions tests in music theory in most cases,” choir teacher Robin Wood said.  “Often, choir students were required to send in a very short video of themselves singing as a precursor to the actual admissions or scholarship audition.”

Following this initial part of the audition, students would either be asked to come to the college campus for an in-person audition or be turned away. But for students needing to do a follow-up audition to their pre-screening, the process looks a little different this year. 

“Students that have traditionally done all of this by moving between different rooms to sit for a test, sing for a panel of judges, and sight sing for a screener will now have to adjust to doing these screenings online. The interviews for prospective scholarship students are being handled via Zoom in many cases,” Wood said. 

Students auditioning for band and orchestra follow this same general process, playing their instruments instead of singing in their submission videos. For musical theatre or drama students, a monologue, dance piece, and singing video are required.

While this may seem simple enough, this way of auditioning online can pose many new challenges.

“Applications can be disqualified because they are in the wrong file format. Each student will need to have good microphone and video quality to make sure their submission really shows what they can do,” Wood said. “Also, there is always that elusive performance ‘magic’ that happens when you are in front of an audience. That will have to be manufactured to a large extent, as the only audience member the student can see is the person behind the camera.”

Despite this, there are also substantial benefits to auditioning online: students can redo their video until they are satisfied with the final product, and they don’t have to deal with travel expenses.

“It levels the playing field for all students. Most people assume that students who can travel for an audition have a better shot at getting in. Now, the students who don’t have the money to fly around the country are dealing with the same circumstances as the students who could afford to travel,” band teacher Jared Tanner said. 

While online auditions will be a big adjustment, students are quickly adapting to the situation and continuing their path towards a musical career. Nothing can stop Liberty’s performing arts students from achieving stardom—not even the pandemic.