December 6, 2016
GUEST BLOG: Thornton Audition Weekend
Greetings, Earthlings! Brittany Jimenez here, Associate Director for Undergraduate Admission at the USC Thornton School of Music. It’s currently post-December 1 so your frenzy of submitting applications and pre-screen auditions is likely over. Woohoo! While you enjoy the holiday season and wait for the email to let you know whether you will be invited for a live audition, I thought I would give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a typical day in the life of Brittany on the Saturday of our January audition weekend. So, pull up a chair, grab a snack, and enjoy!
4:30 a.m. WAKE UP!!! Yep, that’s right. My audition day starts before the sun. Why, you ask? Well, I have a very important task to complete in order to start the audition day properly …
5:15 a.m. DONUT RUN! It sounds fun, but being in charge of picking out five dozen donuts is more challenging than you would think. The essentials are apple fritters, coconut, glazed, cinnamon rolls (for those who are not donut lovers), and most importantly chocolate with rainbow sprinkles (those are for me!).
6:15 a.m. The rest of our wonderful audition day staff has arrived by now and I have successfully made it upstairs without dropping the five boxes of donuts. This is the calm before the storm when we are working on Round 1 of donuts and definitely consuming coffee… lots of coffee.
6:30 a.m. Set-up mania begins! I’m usually in charge of making sure the check-in table is ready to go but I think it’s worth sharing what else we accomplish so early in the morning:
- Balloon crew distributes 100+ balloons all around campus for easy to follow trails. (Fun story: one year I had to do this in the pouring rain and was totally soaked by the end! Rain and balloons – 1, Brittany – 0.)
- Unlock facilities, put up signs everywhere, setup audition and warmup rooms.
- Setup the snack table – complete with granola bars, fruit, water, and later the good stuff like chips and cookies. It’s complimentary so take advantage of the deliciousness!
- Setup the swag table. That’s right – you can get free USC Thornton swag at the live auditions!
- Setup approximately one million other things ….
7:30 a.m. Check-in begins! I LOVE working at the check-in table. I get to meet people I have been pen pals with for the past few months and try to guess what program you are auditioning for as you approach the check-in table.
A couple pointers for checking in:
- Arrive and check in early! There’s a lot of information to give you when you first check in and we would hate for you to feel rushed or be late to your warm-up because you didn’t give yourself enough time to check in and find your warm-up and audition room.
- You, the auditioning student, have to be the one to check in. Your fan club (i.e., Mom and Dad) are welcome to tag along but you have to be present in order to check in.
- Smile! Don’t worry, we don’t bite. We’ve probably already had 2 donuts and 3 cups of coffee by now so we are in great spirits!
Fast forward to 11:00 a.m. By now, auditions are in full swing and many are already done! 11:00 a.m. marks the beginning of our additional activities offered for you to help make your visit to campus complete. These activities are usually offered multiple times during the day. Here’s a little information about each session:
- Financial Aid – Join a representative from the USC Office of Financial Aid for a session about USC’s Financial Aid application process and other important things to know about need-based aid at USC.
- Campus Tour – Join a Thornton admission representative for a walking tour of campus that highlights areas our Thornton students frequently encounter. (Fun fact: if I am the tour guide I will also point out locations where Gilmore Girls was filmed!)
- Theory Exam – this is required for all undergraduate applicants. It may not be as fun as learning about where on campus Gilmore Girls was filmed but it is a required aspect of your live audition, so don’t forget to take the exam.
- Current Student Panel – this is one of my favorite things to host during the audition weekend! Join me and current undergraduate Thornton students for a Q & A panel, which is a great opportunity to learn about the Thornton School from the students who are a part of it on a daily basis.
Somewhere amid all of these fun and exciting information sessions, I eat lunch! It’s usually a delicious spread of Mexican or Italian food. If you see me around in the afternoon, I will likely be recovering from a guacamole or garlic bread induced food coma.
4:00 p.m. onward – after I complete my duties of hosting student panels and leading campus tours, I like to meander around and take in the magic that is audition weekend! I may sit in on some jazz auditions, or wander over to the Vocal Arts auditions. Here are some tips for you based on my experiences as both the auditionee and the audition observer:
- BREATHE! It’s crazy how something vital to life is so easy to forget when you’re in an audition. Take three deep breaths before you walk into your audition and always take time to get a good breath before you start performing.
- BE YOURSELF! When you first walk into your audition, be ready to be greeted by the faculty. Remember that they’re really nice people and they want to get to know you in your audition!
- HAVE A PLAN! Make sure you double check the live audition requirements on our website and have a game plan for when you walk into your audition room. Know what piece you want to perform first in case the faculty ask you to choose. They may want to hear pieces in their entirety or may only need some excerpts. Remember, just because they stop you before you finish doesn’t mean they don’t like what they hear. It just means they heard what they needed to hear.
- HAVE FUN! Try to think of your audition as a really exciting performance opportunity and have fun! You get to perform an audition to pursue your education and career doing something you love. Some of the people you meet at the auditions may even end up being your future best friend, or stand partner. How cool is that?!
7:30 p.m. After eating too many donuts, meeting some awesome prospective students and their families, touring campus, chatting with current students, listening to some really talented people audition, and hanging out with my work family, it’s finally time to GO HOME!!!! And then get up the next day and do it all over again.
If you see me around on your audition day, make sure you say “hi!” Best wishes to you all as you continue to navigate the college application and admission process and most importantly… FIGHT ON!