Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Audtions: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Three weeks ago I attended my audition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.  I was particularly looking forward to visiting Wales and this conservatoire as almost all my flute teachers studied there or with the teachers there.

To get to the conservatoire we had to walk through Cardiff's glorious park - the conservatoire is situated right next to it.  This was, I think, the best part of the day for me - seeing the park in the Autumn colours and light was wonderful and I would love to play flute there sometime.  When we arrived at the conservatoire, we couldn't quite work out which door we were supposed to use but two of the students let us and and were so friendly!  They introduced themselves and wished me luck for my audition which I thought was so sweet and meant a lot to me that day.  In fact, everyone we met while in Wales and at the college was lovely - it just seemed like such a great place!

I had to check in for my audition in the conservatoire cafe and I was grateful of the chance to sit down for 10 minutes after the rush of our journey.  To be honest, having already got Leeds audition out of the way, I was feeling a lot more relaxed and didn't have the stress of not knowing what to expect.  I was taken to the cluster of practice rooms to wait until the flaustist before me had finished warming up and during this time I was able to meet my accompanist and chat to some of the students already studying there.  My rehearsal went really well and I made sure I went through the diminished 7ths and melodic minor scales as these tripped me up slightly at Leeds.  After running through these and my pieces a couple of times, I didn't really feel there was much more I could usefully do before my audition so I went down to the audition room early and waited outside for a couple of minutes.

The audition room in Wales is normally used for recitals, small-scale concerts etc... so it had a lovely acocustic.  My two pieces went well and I really enjoyed playing them although I don't think the room was quite right for the fast movement of the Faure - it had just the right level of echoe for the slow movement and the Bach but, from my perspective, some of the runs and fast passages of the Faure were lost in both the piano and flute parts (and after hours of metronome and performance work, I know this wasn't my fault...).

There were two people on the auditioning panel: a flute teacher and the head of Woodwind.  After I'd finished my pieces, the flute teacher gave me a short sight-reading test which was lovely and was in a similar style as Faure's Fantasy so I really enjoyed it!  Afterwards, I was given a rhythm test which was so easy but counting to three was apparently just too much for me that day - he moved on quickly...  I was then given a line to sight-sing - the line was really quite low for me (I have a soprano voice with a terrible low register) but was just a simple rising Bb major melody so wasn't too bad.  When I'd sung it through, he asked me to study singing instead!  This really threw me as I was totally unprepared for it and actually thought I'd sung the line really badly anyway.  I'm not sure if that was meant to be a reflection on my voice or my flute playing but as I've only been singing for a couple of years and am really not particularly good (whereas I've been playing flute for nine years), I was slightly down about it afterwards.  They finished by taking through some simple interval and chord tests.

At the end they invited me to sit down and I assumed they would ask me some general questions about my musical interests etc...  Instead, I was given the opportunity to ask them any questions.  I asked them about being able to join in with other instruments and ensembles and they seemed really quite unimpressed with that and expressed some near annoyance when I mentioned I played double bass and harp too.  This kind of put me off the college as I strongly believe you can be as good a musician if you don't have experience with other instruments and aspects of music.  They didn't actually ask me anything about my flute, music experiences/interests or persronal statement as I'd expected but one technique they did use, was to spend quite a lot of time suggesting I studied another of my intsruments - this made me feel really uncomfortable and if I was a less confident flautist, I actually think it could've significantly knocked my confidence.  I found out afterwards that it's a technique they sometimes use to test your dedication to the instrument you've chosen - but to me it seems like a really negative way to find out.

I think this was possibly the weirdest audition I have ever experienced and I've come away having absolutely no idea how it went.  I have learned several things from it though so am definitely grateful for the opportunity but if I get an offer, I won't be accepting it unless it's my only conservatoire offer.  This is just my opinion and feeling towards studying there but I know it's an amazing place to study so please don't be put off applying there - it's just not right for me.

See you next time!

As always, please leave a comment if you have any questions - I'm happy to help in any way I can. 

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