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College Auditions Questions

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by mazaremba, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. mazaremba


    Apr 15, 2004
    I am hoping someone here can give me some clear advice on colleges and the programs they offer.

    I should give you some background information first. I just started playing double bass in June/July of this summer, before that I had been a so-so trumpet player. Well I have really come to love the double bass and I am advancing pretty quickly. I practice about 2 hours a night after schoolwork, so I am considering majoring in a performance degree. Although, because my family does not have a lot of money, I have to go to community college first. Well I have no problem with this, because I want to first get an A.D. in Nursing. (That way I can support myself, until I was able to hopefully make it into an orchestra.)

    What I don't understand is if you go to Northwestern University in Illinois, there school of music has nothing written about academic requirements. My biggest concern is my ACT score. (A 22) Does the ACT make a differnce with music performance majors? Would they look down on me for not choosing the music first and then the nursing? Would I have an easier time getting in or a harder time being a transfer student? (Assuming by then I was a top notch player, who was very serious about the instruement.)

    If you could just explain your experinces that would help a lot. BTW, I want to study orchestral music mostly, I don't know if that makes a differnce.
  2. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    most of the time, you can do some core classes like english and math at the community college, then transfer a little easier. Plan that all out and double check that you will get credit before you do it though.

    also, consider a cheaper school. It may not be worth the debt.
  3. mazaremba


    Apr 15, 2004
    The reason I was considering Northwestern was because it is near my home, I am just started to look into these colleges. Although I could go to some school in Iowa, I am looking to stay in the Chicago, Illinois area. :) Thanks for the advice on the classes though.
  4. kontrabass


    Sep 29, 2004
    I have a book entitled The Performing Arts Major's Guide by Carole J. Everett (whom happens to be the former director of Admissions at the Juilliard School) which may be useful for you and anyone looking to major in music or even if you are just wanting to get basic information on Music Festivals. Music schools usually look for well rounded, talented musicians. Rarely do they reject an applicant solely on their grades, but again, this is a factor. My advice: kick butt on the auditions, work on grades, and have fun in the process.

    Good luck,
  5. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN

    I pretty much took the same route but ended up at Berkeley (not Berkelee) as a transfer student went on as a film and history major.

    Here is a brief descritpion of my exp.

    Coming out of high school only playing the electric bass, had just started the UB, I got aluke warm reception at most schools. What I gathered was it would be better to have good technique and be a begining DB player as oppose to a GREAT electric player, just my exp.

    I auditioned for:
    Columbia College-relaxed audition
    Northern Ill Unv.-relaxed
    Roosevelt Unv.-relaxed
    DePaul Unv.-Rude, really turned me off to the school
    Berkelee College of Music (Boston) tape audtion
    Elmhurst College-relaxed, and after not attending invited me to join the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra (was a big deal for me since I had only been playing a few months, really got my playing into shape)
    U of C and Northwestern were out of the question with my grades.

    To answer you questions first:

    If you want to go to Northwestern you need to be an excellent musician, on top of having a great academic background. They will be looking for a GPA in the 3.5 area as a transfer student. If you are caming out of public school you need to realize many of the students at top tier schools did not, they got an expensive private education.

    Plus they don't mention the academic core because it is implied at schools like Northwestern (I know first hand from many friends who went to NW and U of C, which also has a good music program). If you really want to go there get a copy of the common core and the first two years of music classes they require for music majors. The Common core is going to bust your ass, but that is the point. Also, as a transfer student most schools DO NOT require ACT or SAT scores, but double check with the school. What they are looking for are good grades across the board and excellent Teacher Refs.

    Junior College. Find one that has an excellent music program. I ended up at Dupage College instead of my Local CC b/c my local CC music program was in a sad shape. At Dupage I was able to do Jazz ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, got in a Community Symphony orchestra, Music Theory class, Basic Piano class, and ear training. That was pretty great for just a CC. Plus they had good rep as a CC which I think helped me get to where I ended up.

    DO you have a teacher? Really let them know what you want to do and accomplish so you can be prepared for auditons in two years. Also, seek out some of the faculty at the schools you are interested in and maybe take a few lessons with them so you get a feel for them. Many different schools and the bass faculty have different theory, technique, and so forth.

    I lucked out and studied with a bassist I auditioned for. He was a faculty member at many of the Chicago/North Ill schools so I got a good sense of what school provided what.

    Hope this helps and let me know if you have any specific questions.

    Plus, I say CC was one of the best things that happen to me, I was able to save tons of cash, get a great GPA, and then transfer to a top school.

    Oh, one more thing. Just realize the amount of work ahead, not that it can't be done, it can and will be worth it.

    You will need to spend a few hours (3-4) a day just getting school work done to maintain a high GPA (if you are already a good student this won't be hard, I wasn't), plus another (3-4) just with your instrument.

    Good Luck,

  6. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    I too came to the bass quite late in high school. I got into a good school, but really didn't get the financial help that I would have been able to get with more experience under my belt.

    Honestly, If you want to stay in the chicago area, then do your nursing degree and establish a good academic track. A good GPA will definitely help. While doing this, I would suggest locating some Chicago Symphony players or the Prof. at Northwestern (these will likely be the same folks). Ask if you can study with them privately. Make sure they know that it is your intent to enter their school as a full time student when you are ready. Do not be scared of the high price for their lessons. You will get more bang for your buck out of a truly top player. This becomes especially true if you compare it against the cost of Northwestern's tuition.

    After a year of studying with a top player, you will be ready to make a good showing and you will be playing the bass the way they want to hear the bass played. You will have much more pull with them becasue they have some time invested in you already. And to boot, if you have showed them that you are willing to work hard and have improved alot, you might be surprised at just how $FREE$ they can make your college days.

    Also, an earlier post suggesting 3-4 hours a day of practice is dead on. It really takes that much time. Be slow and patient with your practice. Far better to take your time and learn it right the first time, than to rush through it and have to fix a "bug" later.
  7. mazaremba


    Apr 15, 2004
    Well I am actually a great student, it's just a school like Northwestern requires you to be outstanding from the GPA,ACT side of things. My current senior year GPA is 3.3 So I have the student side of things down. I will be attending College of Dupage (community college) first.

    Ssab67, I noticed that you auditioned quite a bit, but I think you mentioned you majored in something else other than performance. If you don't mind me asking, why? Was it just loss of interest or was it too much work? (Or maybe some other reason?) I am just trying to get a feel for the whole audition/major thing, since I have never done it.

    Also you noted about being a beginner with good technique is better than being a player with random technique that is hard to follow... So are you saying a player who may make a few mistakes in the audition, but maybe has better intonation has a better advantage then some who, well "thinks they know everything?"

    Goodbass, I do have a teacher who works extensively in the local Chicagoland area, so I am going to be discussing this with him soon. About how much would a professor charge for a lesson and do you know how long it might be for? I know you can't give an exact answer, but I am guessing maybe an hour for around $150?
  8. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    You will get a lot out of COD. I would take music theory with Ken Paoli if possible, he is a good teacher and will push you. Also, even though you want to do more classical/orchestra work, I would get in a Jazz ensemble for the exp. Mr. Tallman is a good group leader and I am sure would love to have an upright bassist in the mix. Lee does a Chamber Orchestra so you would want to get in that as well.

    As for me...I got the film bug and ended up applying to film school as a transfer student. So I ended up at Berkeley doing film and history as my two majors. I am still pretty much torn today between music and film. Not too much work, just started down a different path.

    As for Auditions(and anyone can correct me if I am wrong since this was my exp). Schools would rather see you play something correctly, with proper intonation and technique, than a harder piece that you just get by with the skin of your teeth. In the latter situation they are seeing that the foundation is flawed so more work will be needed to get you up to their standards of playing. If you come in and have a great technique, good intonation, show that you have a good understanding of the music you are playing, BUT it might not be the "this will blow your sox off", I think you'll see that they see you as a good candidate and can start working with you at your current level, as oppose to going back and doing some minor repairs.

    Plus, if you can study with some of the faculty, they will prepare you and you will be at a great advantage.

    If I can ask, who are you studying with?

    As far as money and lessons...hmmmm. It depends on the person. I have great lessons with people who charged a reasonable rate $40 1- 2 hours and others (because they have the bigger name) charge $75-$85 for 45 minutes- 1 hour. I guess what I am saying is that the $ amount does not always equal a better instructor. Plus, I find that it helps to study with an instructor who uses the same bow...just my exp. again. $150 for an hour is insane, even by NYC standards.

    Also, have you considered UW-Madison. Richard Davis is great, great school, and will be cheaper as a out-of-state student than at a private school. Also, Richard Davis has a Youth bass camp every year around Easter. He takes anyone in high school and grades below that. Try and go, you'll meet tons of player from the area and bass intructors in the tri-state area(Ill, Michigan, Wisconsin).

    Also, check out this site:

    this link is Bass Prof and schools in Chicago:

    I would try and set up a few lesson with Greg as he is on the bass faculty at numerous school (I think at NW as well).

    Hope this helps.
  9. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    I forgot, one more thing.

    COD is a great CC, but it will not prepare you for the academic rigors of say a school like Northwestern. Honestly, it won't even prepare you for a good state school.

    So just keep that in mind when you transfer. The first sememster is going to have a big learning curve.
  10. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    Yeah, $150 would be mighty steep. A previous post was probably on target @ $60-85 an hour. Some teachers are really nice and will keep working with you for a 1.5 to 2 hours if they feel you need it. You know its funny, Your current teacher may be the best player and teacher in Chicago, but the CSO names seem to go very far in the orchestral world. Plus, these cats have won a major gig. That is a huge feat. You are very lucky to be in a town with a major symphony. Their advice is coming straight from the source. They listen to auditions all the time and can give you a unique perspective on the whole affair. And I guess more to my point is that these types of players can mold you into an auditioning machine. Take a look at KPO's audition winners list that is going around this forum. It is very informative as to what schools are producing job winners. That is not to say that those schools are the only ones, but one has a hard time doubting that kind of pattern.

    There was also some good advice about experimenting with jazz and other things. You are very new to the bass and the orchestra route is a very long road. You will do well to make very sure that you want to commit to it.

    Good luck with the bass either way. You are in a great city with a ton of great players. Glean as much knowledge from as many of them as you can.
  11. mazaremba


    Apr 15, 2004
    My teachers name is Mike Ciancenelli. ( Pronounced
    Santa-nelly) He plays both upright and eletric, I won't say much more about him, other than he is an amazing player and teacher. I know how music teachers work (I did play trumpet) and this guy is the real deal.

    Thanks for the advice guys, I already play in the top jazz band in school so I know how jazz goes. :) So far I just can't drop my bow down! For certain, I will look into obtaining lessons with those guys.
  12. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I'll add my $.02.

    If you want to stay in the Chicago area Larry Gray is thee guy to study with. No if's, and's or buts, IMO. He is the most musical person I've ever met and has performance degrees in cello, guitar and piano as well as being the top call jazz player in the city. He also has experience with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and taught at DePaul for around 18 years. Aside from being a great musician, he is a fantastic instructor. I've sat in on many of my son's lessons and I've seen it first hand. You won't be sorry.

    As far as schools go, I think Northwestern has an excellent program but is considered one of the toughest schools to get into academically. I don't think a 3.3 is going to cut it. In fact, I doubt its even close. You should check with them but that's my understanding.

    DePaul has a great classical professor, Rob Kassinger. Mr. Kassinger is with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has degrees from Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard and is also a mighty fine jazz player too. Damn nice guy.

    Despite the fact that we live in Madison, I can't really recommend U.W. Madison as a good place for classical Bass instruction. U.W. Stevens Point might be a better choice. Contact their bass professor, Catalin Rotaru. My son studied with Rotaru and he is excellent. My guess is that UW Stevens Point and would probably be much cheaper too. They have a new state of the art facility and it might be worth looking into.
  13. Chris Rose

    Chris Rose

    May 22, 2006
    This thread seems to have been dead for a while, but I thought it might be good to mention Catalin Rotaru is no longer teaching at UW-SP. He is now at Arizona State Univ. Dave Story is the new prof at UW-SP. I know him personally, and he is a great guy, and a monster player. Mark Urness teaches at the Lawrence accadamy in Appleton, Wi. He is a very solid player, and from my limited exposure to him, seems like a nice guy. If you are in the Chicago area, Kalamazoo Mi. is only two hours away, and Tom Knific (Western Michigan Univ.) is a great teacher.
  14. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Yes I knew that Rotaru had moved. My son had studied with him and we ran into him sometime ago. He's a helluva nice guy and a great player. We also met Mark Urness and he is indeed a very nice fellow.

    Anyway, my son ended up at UNT and has finished up his freshman year. He has done very well and thoroughly enjoys studying with Lynn Seaton. He's signed up for summer school and will be taking some theory and will study with Jeff Bradetich.