Updated: Dec 28, 2020
In honor of National College Decision Day, I give you my latest blog post.
As mentioned in my very first post, Why This BLOG?, I created this blog and website to provide a central location for all of the information we were learning throughout the college audition process. For the last couple of years I had been presenting a "College Bound" workshop at the Patel Conservatory for students and parents of students interested in pursuing the performing arts in college. You see, I thought I knew what I was talking about. Back before the turn of the century, I was the one who looked for musical theatre programs, applied to colleges, took standardized tests, prepared repertoire, visited schools and auditioned. I'd survived the rigor of a BM program carrying 17 credits a semester with 8:00am voice lessons and rehearsals late into the evenings. In addition, I'd helped many of my own students get into college performing arts programs. After writing numerous recommendation letters, coaching tons of monologues, prepping hours worth of songs, editing page after page of resumes and recording many videos, I knew what I was doing.
I wasn't being deceptive. Like many high school performing arts teachers I did know a thing or two and likely more than others outside of the industry. I arrived at my College Bound workshop with a powerpoint and stack of resources in tow, and confidently provided what information I could. Parents and students, especially those who hadn't been through the process, shared they'd gained insights they didn't have previously. They were grateful.
I joke now that I only knew and understood about a third of the process. In hindsight, I would consider that pretty accurate. The other two-thirds I didn't know are a combination of two factors: 1) times have changed and 2) going through this as a parent is, well, different.
Times Have Changed
Of course they have, but the industry as a whole has changed. The Glee factor, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Grease: You're the One That I Want, America's Got Talent, The Voice, Hamilton, live musicals on the major networks--all contributors to the new Broadway. Bjorn & Benny, Billy Joel, Elton John, Sting, Cindy Lauper, Sara Bareilles write musicals. John Legend just performed live in a network produced live performance of a musical. You know, musicals? Where characters spontaneously burst into song? Additionally, the digital age has made the information on college programs easily accessible and more competitive. College programs (over 20 new BFA programs since 2008) have followed suit. Things have become so competitive that many go the route of hiring expensive audition coaches. A Backstage article on the college audition coach phenomenon, written by one of the top audition coaches in the nation, sheds light on this aspect.
The Parent Factor
If you've been following this blog you've seen the journey that ensued for my daughter and I. Handling the scheduling, expense and organization of it all, the coordinating, the ups, the downs. It's a lot. I ran into parents at these auditions who are accountants that shared, "I don't understand any of this. At all." I guess that's when I realized maybe my perspective, though imperfect, might be helpful.
Happy Decision Day!