Virtual auditions

Each year, dancers and musicians stand in front of a panel of judges from the Glenn Korff School of Music to display their skills. These auditions are the only way prospective music or dance majors and minors can hope to study their craft in the next year and potentially earn scholarships. This year, instead of facing a panel of judges, auditionees will face their webcams and film their performances to be emailed to the university.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the music school has moved all undergraduate auditions online. Prospective music and dance students are required to film their auditions and email them to the school by 5 p.m. on Feb. 6 if they hope to earn a scholarship.

Kirsten Drennon, auditions and scholarship coordinator for the Glenn Korff School of Music, hopes the changes made to this year’s audition process help students remain safe while submitting the best audition possible.

“We have updated our online auditions guide, including videos about how to audition and create audition videos,” she said. “Administration, staff and faculty have worked very hard and have gone above and beyond to make virtual auditions go smoothly.“

The auditionees will be required to film themselves performing the provided musical pieces, of which there can be as many as six, including rudimental skills and scales. They are then expected to upload their audition video to VidGrid, Vimeo or YouTube and send the link to Drennon. Those auditioning for a dance major or minor must film themselves performing provided phrase work and an original movement phrase, as well as undergo a virtual interview with the full dance faculty.

While reformatting the audition process in early fall, Drennon kept in mind faculty safety as well as student safety.

“Faculty will be able to review auditions remotely and deliver their admission decisions to the administration remotely as well,” she said. “The health and safety of everyone in the process is very important to us.“

Despite the virtual auditions, Drennon still expects top quality from prospective students.

“The good news about submitting an audition recording instead of a live audition is that students have a built-in cushion,” she said. “If they don’t like the recording they just created, they have the option of recording again before submitting the video. Also, the Feb. 6 deadline has been posted on the Glenn Korff School of Music website since October, so students have had three months to prepare and record their best audition.”

Joel Williams, a senior at Lincoln East High School, will be participating in the virtual auditions this year, hoping to minor in music with an emphasis on percussion. 

Williams’ high school music courses were forced online last spring, and he says virtual music classes just weren’t the same.

“[Classes] were disengaging,“ he said. “I didn’t feel like I could put in my two cents most of the time … I don’t know there’s something that can be done about participation, but that’s the main issue of virtual music, performance-wise.”

Williams is hopeful that the Glenn Korff School of Music will be able to open more in-person musical opportunities, taking example from Drum Corps International, the leading organization for competitive adult marching band.

“More than half the corps are actually doing it [in person], which could open eyes to a bunch of schools that have music programs,“ he said. “They could be like, ‘if they’re doing activities, we can do ours.’”

Williams auditioned for the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, a Drum Corps International member band based in Dubuque, Iowa, this year and said the first round of auditions were virtual, but callbacks and the regular season will be live.

Virtual or not, auditions can be nerve wracking, but Williams is confident in his abilities to impress.

“This [audition] displays what I have to give to the music program, so taking this opportunity kind of pushes me,“ he said. “This is something I have to work for and reap the rewards if I actually get them.”