A newer component of the international Audition and Interview (A&I) events, the Preparing for An Audition clinic is exactly what it sounds like, a crash course on what to expect in the audition room.
Modern Muzik Akademisi Director Bora Uslusoy and Berklee student Emir Cerman translated, but it was obvious from the nods of recognition that many in the audience understood English. Michael Farquharson, Professor of Contemporary Writing and Production, greeted them with “Merhaba!” (“Hello”) and told several jokes in Turkish that were a hit. I asked later what he had said but he couldn’t remember, it just came off the top of his head.
Said Farquharson to the packed room, “We want you to come in and be yourself. Put your best foot forward [an expression that didn’t quite translate into Turkish but they got the idea]. Show us the best that you are in what you do, the best musicianship, and musicality. I’d rather hear one note sung beautifully than ‘scooby-de-do-bop-bop-bop-scat,’ done badly.”
He explained further, “What we’re looking for in a musician is personal expression, musicality in whatever music it is you love to play and use to express yourself, and what you feel is your own personal artistic strength. Not to audition for what you think we might want to hear.”
Stephen Croes, Dean of Music Technology, told the audience, “There are several components. The most important part is the first prepared piece.” The audition also includes improvisation, melodic and rhythmic ear training, and sight-reading. Said Croes, “People come into the auditions worried about reading. Don’t worry about it, we’ll teach you how to read. The most important thing is that you’re very musical and you have good expression. Wherever you are as a musician, that’s what the audition is for (to determine your level). We’ll teach you how to be a complete musician. We’ll take you from where you are to where you want to go.”
To demonstrate, they conducted mock auditions with audience members, going through each of the components and asking other members of the audience to participate with hand clapping during the rhythmic ear training section.
The audition and interview are 15 minutes each, and Michael Shaver, Assistant Director of International Admissions, stressed in his information session that the interview portion is just as important as the live audition. Said Shaver afterward; “The sessions are helpful because many of them have no idea. They come in thinking they’re going to be on a stage with a spotlight on them, but it’s not like that.” Added Farquharson, “We want the Berklee audition to be a fun and exhilarating experience.”