Audition Recording Tips That Get You Into the Best Schools

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Getting that coveted acceptance letter from your school or music program of choice becomes more difficult every year. More schools are requiring pre-screen auditions that demand you put your best work forward.

If you have a choice between a live audition and a recorded audition, always choose to perform live. However, that is not always possible, so here are some audition recording tips to help you overachieve instead of just putting out something “good enough.” You only get one chance to make a first impression on the school.

Are you ready to compete? If so, read on…

Do Your Homework

Knowing what your preferred schools want is your responsibility. Closely check all deadlines and instructions. Do you need a digital product (MP3, WAV, etc.) or a physical product (DVD, CD, etc.)? Do they restrict editing? Are there specific titling conventions you need to adhere to? You can take yourself out of consideration quickly by failing in these areas.

Also find out what your competition is doing. Are they using professional recording engineers, or are they using their smartphone? Think about the type of sound quality you want the jury to listen to and remember that first impressions count. Lastly, make sure to research the general parameters surrounding accompaniment and repertoire for each submission. Different schools may have different requirements and expectations. Don’t hesitate to ask the admissions office for clarification.

Early Decision, Early Action, Priority Deadlines?

Following these audition recording tips to the T won’t make a difference if you miss the school’s application deadlines. Colleges, universities, and conservatories won’t consider your application if you miss the due dates they set forth. Remember, if you choose to apply Early Decision, and you are accepted, you are legally bound to attend that school. Programs like Early Action and Priority Deadlines generally require you to submit earlier application submissions, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you are required to attend that school if accepted.

Pick the Right Recording Space

One of the best audition recording tips you will hear is that you need to be in the space that best fits you. This means balancing sound quality with feeling comfortable. A traditional recording studio might not be your best choice because you won’t feel at home or because most recording engineers don’t know how to record classical music, nor do they understand how classical music should sound. The right engineer can remove the worry of recording while you focus on your performance.

Of course, you also need to consider factors such as the acoustics of the room, lighting if you choose to make a video recording, and excess noise in the background. Ask a Musical Horizon® engineer for audition recording tips when it comes to picking a location.

Sound Quality Trumps Everything Else

This might sound like the simplest of audition recording tips, but it can be the most overlooked. “Good enough” will not get you what you want. If you do not have access to the right space or equipment to produce a high-quality recording, consider your options. Remember there are many applicants to every music program each year and only a finite number of seats to fill. When decision makers need to choose between two applicants with similar levels of talent, they will always pick the best sounding, best looking, and more professional recording submitted.

Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment

Here is another important audition recording tip. Not all recording equipment is the same. For classical musicians, it is essential to use a stereo pattern microphone setup – a single microphone will not create a stereo recording. But even then, where to place these microphones can be troublesome if you are inexperienced. Also, you should consider mixing your stereo microphones with various spot microphones, to make your instrument stand out over any accompaniment (or background noises). In terms of recorders, use a quiet computer with recording software. Or, if you prefer a non-computer system, a flash recorder or hard drive recorder will work great too. Avoid using a direct-to-CD recorder or your smartphone as there are vast limitations to recording time and ability to playback review involved. It’s also easy to forget your cabling, but don’t! Use the best microphone cables you can get because low-quality cables lack proper shielding. If you use a video camera, make sure it is high definition and has XLR inputs to connect your microphones. And do not try to pick up sound with the camera’s built-in mic – these are designed for spoken voice at best, certainly not music.

Sound complicated? Unfortunately, if you are not a professional, selecting and setting up recording equipment can be a daunting task. In fact, you might end up spending more on equipment if you choose to do it yourself, instead of hiring a professional who can bring his or her own gear. Additionally, a pro will know where to place microphones and understand how to use the equipment correctly.

Get It Right Before You Send It

Leaving yourself plenty of time before the deadline will allow you to get the recording just right before you send it. Choose your favorite takes and work with them. Get the highest amplitudes (think volume) possible on your recordings without going over and causing clipping. Using a professional audio editor can take the guesswork out of this step.

Do not leave your recording for the last minute – something can (and often will) go wrong that requires you to adjust. Plan in advance to give yourself time to check your recording and to make sure it sounds just as you want it.

Hire a Professional Recording Engineer

Musical Horizon, LLC offers affordable on-location recording services for classical musicians, jazz singers, and all types of musical artists looking to make a name for themselves. To learn more or schedule a free consultation, call 973-287-4029 or email us at recording@musicalhorizon.com.

When contacting us, please include the following information:

  • Will you be performing with accompaniment?
  • Do you need audio recording services? Video recording services? Or a combination of both?
  • Are you a student?
  • Are you planning to use these recordings for college-entrance/competition/professional/commercial/other purposes?
  • Do you need digital product (WAV, MP3, MP4) or physical product (Audio CD, DVD, Blu-Ray Disc)? Or both?

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Relevant Information:
Applying to a Music Program?
Live Audition vs. Recorded Audition
Video Audition Recording
Audio Editing

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