'My Academy audition was such a positive experience. The staff and students were so welcoming – they really made me feel like I would be part of a family.'Julie
If you’re thinking of applying, we recommend the following:
- Do your research before your audition – browse our website and social media channels, and if you can, come to an Open Day and talk to our students.
- Approach the audition like a concert – arrive in good time, make sure you have everything you will need and dress comfortably. Formal concert dress is not required.
- Be prepared – if you’re not ready, it might be better to wait a year.
- Try to enjoy yourself – we want you to do your best.
- Put the audition in perspective. Whatever the outcome, the world is big and the possibilities endless if you have ability and perseverance.
'From my first audition, the atmosphere at the Academy drew me in. It was so inspiring, warm and welcoming. I got such a wonderful feeling, I just knew I wanted to study here.'Leila
A few practical tips:
- Playing from memory is not essential, but try not to be ‘glued’ to your music.
- It’s a good idea to practise walking in, settling down, and tuning up, and playing in unfamiliar settings in front of friends and family.
- November and December are cold months - we recommend you wear gloves on the way here.
- Make sure you are not dehydrated or hungry before your audition.
- On the day, tune carefully, but try not to take up too much of your audition time tuning up.
A ‘walk through’ your audition
Here is a Q&A with a first-year piano student who auditioned last year, to help give you an idea of what to expect. Please note, auditions vary from department to department, and this is only one person’s experience.
What happens when I arrive?
You’ll be greeted by the friendly reception team as soon as you enter the double doors to the Academy. Tell them you’re here for an audition and then a current student will come to meet you and show you where to go.
I remember thinking how good it was that the entrance to the Academy is clearly marked so I didn’t have any panicky ‘Where is the reception?’ moments.
Do I get time to practise before my audition?
Yes, you will have approximately 20 minutes to get warmed up and ready (depending on your specialism). This also lets you get used to your surroundings. I think it was the right length of time for me because it meant I was ready to play, but I wasn’t tired out.
Is your audition in the same room as the warm-up room?
You’re normally allocated a separate warm-up room and it will be near to the audition room where you’ll meet the panel.
Do you have any top tips?
Arrive in plenty of time, even if it means you spend an hour or so scouting out the local area. I went for a walk in the park right next to the Academy, which was great for calming my nerves. Seeing ducks and water really helped. The ‘Travelling to the Academy’ guide was very useful as well.
How long will the audition last?
The audition usually lasts about 20 minutes (depending on your specialism). Don’t worry if you’re asked to stop part way through a piece. It doesn’t mean you’re doing badly, just that the panel want to hear you play something else in the time available.
What music will I have to prepare?
All the information about specific requirements is on the department pages. For some auditions, you can bring your own choice of repertoire and you might want to discuss this with your teacher. I picked pieces I felt would show what I could do, but that I love and feel comfortable playing.
How many people will be at the audition?
At mine, there were two professors from the piano department plus Joanna MacGregor. It varies, though, and there can be three or more people, including other senior Academy staff.
How did you cope with your nerves?
I just tried my best to relax and told myself that I could do it. It’s obviously quite nerve-wracking when you care about something a lot and want to do your best. Try to take the pressure off yourself and it will go more smoothly.
Will I be expected to play scales?
Auditions for some specialisms include scales/arpeggios - check your department web page, so you’re aware of everything you might be asked to do. Because requirements vary, it’s a good idea to know every scale and arpeggio as listed in ABRSM Grade 8, even if you haven’t done the exam.
What happens after I have played?
After your performance audition, you may be asked to have a brief conversation with teaching staff.
What kind of questions were you asked?
I was asked about the musical training I’ve had and why I wanted to study at the Academy. I’ve always wanted to be a piano player so I think that came across. I also felt that it was definitely the right place for me to study music when I came for my audition. And it turns out I was right. I’ve been loving my time here so far.