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4 Ways To Build an Impressive Conservatory Application

It's Not Just About Resumes, These Tips Enhance Your Child's Arts Education Too.


Photo courtesy of Julio Silveira, Stock.Xchng

While peers high five over their completed applications, music majors and theater arts buffs still have much to do when it comes to applying to college. A little College Admissions 101 for music and drama majors can be helpful in navigating the arts program maze. In addition to the regular college admissions application, most college and conservatory programs require a supplemental application, recommendations and the all-important performance resume. Here are four tips to help your child build an impressive one - and boost his arts education at the same time:


  • Ensembles: While any extra-curricular involvement is good, in the current hyper-competitive world of college admissions, it’s worth making the extra effort to audition for county and all-state honor bands, try out for competitive civic theater groups, or enter regional and even national performing arts competitions. It's not just a resume booster. These groups teach your child to work with equally talented peers and a variety of directors, and expose him to a higher level of repertoire. Even if your child does not get in, preparing for (and enduring) the audition is good practice and it's always helpful to get feedback from unbiased experts.


  • Great Teachers: Even if your child already takes private lessons, consider adding the occasional supplemental lesson with a professional musician, actor or singer. Even pros who may not have the time to devote to regular lessons with your child, may be able to fit in the occasional hour-long session (at a cost likely to range from $60 to $120 per hour). Professional artists bring a fresh perspective and an entirely different skill set to your child’s arts education – they know what the real performance world is like and they’re used to working with professionals, so their expectations tend to be higher. Anyone your child studies with on an occasional basis or in a master class setting can go on his resume under instruction.


  • Master Classes and Camps: From Michigan's summer-long Interlochen Arts Camp to Stanford's week-long jazz workshop, music camps offer not just days of fun but serious arts education, high powered teachers and wonderful performance opportunities. It’s a great way to connect with some of the best musicians and artists in the field, hang out with teens with similar interests and – OK, yes, build your child’s performance resume. Also keep an eye on local university listings and high school bulletin boards for master classes and special programs open to the community.


  • Record Keeping: And finally, keep track. It’s infinitely easier for your child to track his performance repertoire, ensemble involvement, solo performances and instructors as he goes, rather than trying to reconstruct a performance history at the eleventh hour. Have him set up a Word or Excel file and add updates after each concert or show or, at the very least, designate a box to corral all his performance programs.
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