-Alexis Rodgers, Contributing Writer
Students come to Mississippi College because it offers so much. For instance, Mississippi College is known for having one of the best music programs in the state. It is world class, and the people in its department are known for being some of the hardest-working people on campus. But what does it take to be a part of this elite department?
The music department consists of many different groups, namely Singers, band, and musical theatre. To be in any of these groups and to major in any kind of music emphasis, one must audition for a coveted spot. When most students hear the word “audition,” they tend to get spooked. However, the music department assures students that the audition process will be anything but daunting. They will walk with you each step of the way.
The music audition process starts with applying at the MC department of music website and selecting your classification as an undergraduate, transfer, or graduate. There are four different types of music auditions required for any of the degree programs: performance, education, composition, and worship leadership. The four different audition types are vocal, instrumental, organ, and piano.
“For vocal students,” says Coordinator of Vocal Studies, Nell Adams, “the student comes in and sings two selections. Usually we ask them to sing two contrasting selections. One is fast, then the other should be slow. If one is in a different language, the other should be English.”
For students auditioning for piano, Angela Willoughby, Coordinator of Piano Studies, states, “Students auditioning for piano are asked to perform from memory two selections from different periods of style, such as Baroque or Romantic.” The other varieties of auditioning are posted with the requirements on the web page.
There are many different times of the year to apply for an audition. The nearest upcoming date is Saturday, Mar. 28, 2015.
After applying and selecting an audition type, students will perform the pieces they have prepared in front of the entire music department faculty in the choir room, Aven 326. Before students start to get intimidated, the music faculty tries their best to be as welcoming as possible with its prospective students. “We were all once students ourselves,” voiced Adams. The faculty panel is not there to judge the students harshly, but to more or less examine where a student stands. Of course, there are specific qualities the music department is searching for.
“Confidence, competence, experience, skill, and facility,” are important traits, according to Willoughby. While the audition process is the student’s responsibility, the faculty will try and help students find their way into their department.
“The thing is to say what needs to be said without breaking the student’s spirit,” said Adams. After performing, students are able to partake in a Q&A session with all the music department faculty members. “We all try to be present,” Willoughby said. “The student may be working with us one day, and we will like them to know that we are here for them.”
Yasmine Bradshaw, a junior music education major with an emphasis in vocals, as well as a music ambassador, shared her experience. “I came for it like a regular audition day; it’s pretty informal. You just go into the choir room, and there is a selected panel of mixed faculty, band, music ed. You sing; they ask you questions such as why you came to MC, especially for music. It’s really laid back; you don’t have to be apprehensive about anything. It was a really good experience. I was nervous, extremely, because you don’t know what you’re walking into. You have this panel of people looking you. However once you start singing you get better. They really do welcome you and make you feel invited and included.” Additionally, on audition day students and parents are welcome to a reception with the faculty and are able to get to know them in a less intimidating setting.
After the audition is over and the student has been accepted into the music department, what is next? If a student plans to major in music there are requirements that must be met. All students are required to learn how to play the piano and take the Piano Proficiency Exam if they major in any type of music emphasis. Also, as music majors there are basic courses such as Applied Voice and Ear Training that will keep you busy.
Through all the classes, rehearsals, and concerts, benefits await. Students gain opportunities to travel around the country and the world.
“I was able to go to New York two separate times. I’ve performed in Avery Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall. To perform beautiful works of music in these venues where immensely famous people have performed before me,” voiced Bradshaw. The Singers have also traveled to South Africa, the Czech Republic, and other countries.
“[The Music Department] has really given me a sense of family; this is home,” Bradshaw added. “Aven is home for me. It’s so tight knit. It’s given me experiences I never even imagined I would have. It’s made me more rounded and more cultured as a person.” She also offers encouragement to not over think the audition process. “Don’t think, ‘oh, are they going to like me?’ Yes, they are going to like you and support you and welcome you into the department. Everybody here just wants to help you. Ambassadors… All the faculty, all the staff.” So for those thinking about joining this department, whether undergraduate, transfers, international, or incoming freshman students, the MC music faculty says not to worry. At the end of the day, the department shares the same dream and passion that their students do—the passion for music.