Full disclosure: college audition coaching costs money. With the increasing costs of applications, pre-screen fees, auditions fees and more – I fully understand and sympathize with the outrageous costs of simply getting into college, much less paying for it.
On my end, I want to tell you that all of the coaches at MCA are working, professional actors and college audition coaching provides supplemental income for them so they can go out there and focus on being the brave, talented artists they are in their auditions, shows, etc. You (and your parents) hard earned money helps support people who are doing exactly what you hope to do after college. We appreciate you and appreciate you valuing our time.
With that, I want to make sure you are getting the absolute most out of every second you work with MCA or any other private coach so you take full advantage of the time you have paid for. I always want students to walk away from lessons feeling inspired, excited, prepared and most of all, proud.
Over the course of ten years of being a college audition coach, there is an undeniable recipe for success when getting prepped. Below are some of my top tips for making the most of your lessons:
There are no stupid questions in this wildly confusing, daunting process! Nothing makes me happier (I’m being serious!) than at the start of a lesson when a student or parent pulls out their notepad and asks if it is okay to ask me a few questions before the lesson really begins. This is incredible for two reasons:
1. You recognize that sending lots of questions over email is time consuming and less efficient than speaking face to face.
2. You are putting yourself in the driver’s seat! You are utilizing your time with a professional and getting exactly what you want out of a lesson.
Quick tip: carry a little notepad with you at all times or download a great note app on your phone. If a question pops in your head outside a lesson (even if you may think it is silly!) write it down. Keep a list going so you don't forget to ask anything important during your lesson time.
Wondering what goals you can set for yourself in between lessons? Ask your coach! Take advantage of the end of each lesson so you are able to fully capitlize on the next one. Besides some of the obvious goals (like getting off-book) ask your coach if there is anything they would love to see you accomplish before they see you next.
Also, don’t forget to write down any notes given to you by your coach during your lesson! Or maybe recording lessons is a better solution for you? Either option, you'll be thankful to have them when practicing at home.
Plan ahead, y’all.
While we do our best to accommodate last minute lesson requests, this just isn’t always possible. If you find yourself continuously sending emails or texts that begin with: “Is there any possible way you could…” or “Do you have any other time on…” to your coaches, chances are you are waiting to the last minute to book/accomplish something. Remember that as an actor you are your own business. Operate that business in a professional manner and treat those that support and help keep your business running smoothly with respect.
Quick tip: sit down with a calendar with your parents and set concrete “deadlines” for when certain milestones in the college audition process will be accomplished, i.e. pre-screens filmed, auditions scheduled, hotels booked, etc. Once those deadlines are set, take stock in what prep needs to be done to meet each deadline. Then, lock it in! Book your lessons in advance and set up a coaching schedule that allows you to meet your own expectations. I promise you will breathe easier and enter each lesson calmer.
Please, don’t ever hesitate to speak up during a lesson! I can only help you feel less anxious about something if I know what is troubling you. If a song feels strange in one part, let’s talk about it. Terrified of tackling your Shakespeare so you are avoiding it like the plague? Let’s find some tools to make it less intimidating. I am here to teach you, but I need to know what the subject is.
Also, if you are needing some guidance or are feeling worried about something having to do with your process, we want to hear these verbalized by you, not your parents. Self-Advocacy is an important skill to have as you enter college and especially imperative in this specific career.
There’s nothing like entering a lesson with a student who is joyful, excited and ready to hit the ground running! Before entering a lesson, I encourage you to do the following things:
1. Warm up!
2. Take some deep breaths. Relax your body and your brain.
3. Through this breathing, do your best to leave your day (or upcoming day) outside the lesson and force yourself to be present. Don’t let outside stresses invade your productivity.
4. Say something complimentary to yourself about something you are working on in your lessons. Were you so thrilled with your last voice lesson and how nicely one of your songs is coming along? Remind yourself of that feeling.
5. Enter your lesson exuding positivity. Even if it feels (or is) manufactured, you will set the tone for a productive, inspired, happy lesson.
Thank you for letting us be a part of the journey!
Founder/Lead Consultant of My College Audition
Chelsea is a graduate from Emerson College's Acting program and is the
Founder of My College Audition.
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I got into my dream school!!! Ahhh!!!!!
I got into my safety school. Meh.
If you find yourself in either scenario, congratulations on your acceptance! No matter where you find yourself, you will probably notice that at some point, your expectations aren’t meeting your reality. I’ve been thinking about expectations in my own career and how it applies to you all who have been working your tails off in your college auditions. Let’s take a moment for some real talk about what each of these acceptance scenarios can mean and how you can prepare for your high or low expectations.
High expectations can push us to achieve dreams we wouldn’t otherwise achieve! They can make us work harder and take bigger risks. They can also let us down when those expectations become unrealistic. Low expectations or no expectations can feel safe. They can ground us in reality. It can also feel great when those expectations are exceeded. No matter what your perspective may be, either of these scenarios comes with challenges.
Let’s imagine you get into your dream school and it’s the perfect fit. At some point in your journey, you’re likely to hit a snag - an argument with your new best friend, a roommate who always eats your leftovers, a campus that makes you feel insignificant, or a teacher who challenges your talent. Don’t let these get you down. You have achieved something amazing by getting this far. In my first year of college, my roommate drama was far more than I had signed up for and it severed friendships. It took me a while to make new friends. I signed myself up for so many credit hours and artistic commitments that I had a few emotional breakdowns. I went through a breakup. And all of that was totally normal.
Expect that no matter how perfect your school may be in your mind, there are moments it will let you down. Expect to be challenged harder than you ever have been. Expect to be frustrated. Expect to be disappointed. Expect to wonder if you made the right choice. If you don’t have those feelings, that’s awesome, but odds are you will experience some of these feelings at some point. Even the dream school can’t promise you four years with no disappointments. And don’t fear - those disappointments are the best preparation for the long road ahead.
Now, let’s imagine you are let down by your school choices. You didn’t get into the dream school; maybe you got into your safety school, or you got into a good school, but not in the program you really wanted. You can expect everything the person in the dream school expected. And you know what else? You may also be completely surprised. Sometimes we don’t end up where we wanted, but where we end up is better than we ever expected.
You may find that you have a knack for something completely different than you ever realized. The person who was on your decision committee might have wanted you more than anyone else and they end up being the mentor you didn’t know you needed. Maybe you wanted to be a BFA, but you got into a BA program and now you are taking outside classes that spark your creativity and imagination in ways you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I had a student a few years ago who got into a great acting program, but was disappointed she didn’t get accepted into the MT program. I introduced her to a friend of mine who taught vocal jazz and an artistic match was made. After being exposed to new techniques and music, she has found a love for a new singing style.
When you’re a high schooler, you’re asked, “What’s your dream school?” When you’re an actor, you’re asked, “What are your dream roles?” My answer: I don’t really have any. The roles that have been my favorite roles or most exciting theatrical experiences have been a complete surprise. Your life will take you to unexpected places. Whether or not you go to your dream school, you are going to have a wild ride. You’ve chosen to be an artist and there’s nothing else like it.
So, what are realistic expectations? That is a debate that has spanned the length of time. Should we live in a sort of fantasy to persevere through a less than exceptional reality or should we accept reality as it is so we can take realistic actions? All of this is really up to you. The best answer I’ve come up with for myself is this… I can only rely on living up to my personal expectations. Here are some expectations I have for myself. And, no, I don’t always meet them.
When faced with challenges, focus on what you can learn.
Encourage art in others.
Lead with love.
Surround yourself with people who make you better.
Find the value in the person/artist you are today.
Acting for the Song Coach - My College Audition
Erica is a NYC based actress and an Acting for the Song Coach for My College Audition. www.ericaspyres.com
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March. That strange time of year when college auditions are over and baseball is just around the corner.
Wait, what? Baseball? What the heck does baseball have to do with theater? More than you might think (and no, I am not just talking about your school’s upcoming production of “Damn Yankees”).
Battle in the Box
Stepping into the audition room is like a step into the batter’s box. Think about it, you the actor are like the batter. You step up to the plate completely focused on the task at hand. You have done your prep work and know exactly who the pitcher is, what they are going to throw at you, and what you are trying to accomplish. Meanwhile, the pitcher is looking at you with a completely different agenda. They want to see what you can handle and if you can surprise them with your ability.
Sure, sounds a lot like every audition I have ever been on. The amount of focus, the amount of preparation, and the plan you make in order to ace your audition feels an awful lot like those first few moments in the batter’s box.
Then the at bat begins. You take your first swing. You get a piece of it, but hit it foul. The pitcher sees something in your swing and they make an adjustment. How do you handle it? Do you recognize what is now being thrown at you? Or do you do the same thing you already did?
This is no different than any auditor giving you an adjustment on your song or monologue. It’s no different than them asking you for another piece. They saw something in you, and now they want to see more. How are you going to handle it?
So we keep battling away, trying our best to be successful in each at bat. And sometimes we are successful and get a hit. Other times, we fail and strike out. And that, is the nature of both baseball and auditioning.
Fail Like a Hall of Famer
In baseball, failure isn’t only an option, it’s an expectation. Every time a player steps into the batter’s box, there is a HIGH percent chance that he is going to make an out (read: fail). So high in fact, that over the course of their careers, players who succeed only 3 out of every 10 times, can end up in the Hall of Fame.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Boston Red Sox legend, Ted Williams. Considered by many to be one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Williams finished his career with a .344 batting average.
What does that mean? That means that every 10 times Ted Williams had an at bat, he only succeeded around 3.5 times. He failed almost 7 out of 10 times and he is one of the all time greats. He is in the Hall of Fame.
As actors, it’s our job to audition. We audition a ton. We put ourselves out there on a regular basis hoping that we just might get into that school or get that part. We step into that room, give it everything we’ve got, and hope that we crush it.
More often than not though, we just miss it. And we are forced to face another rejection. But what if we can flip the way we think about our “failures”? What if instead of thinking that we have to get into every school or get every part, we realize that every one we do get is an unbelievable success? You might just end up in the Hall of Fame.
Stop and Celebrate
Home runs. I love them, you love them, we ALL love them.
There is arguably not another more exciting play in all of sports than the home run. I mean, picture this… The batter and the pitcher are locked into a battle. Pitch after pitch, neither succeeding. It feels as though this stalemate will never end. Then with one swing of the bat, BANG! The ball takes off on a long majestic arc, out of the park and into the night. It is amazing.
But I think the most amazing thing is what we do next. Because hitting the home run isn’t the end. We stop and celebrate. 40,000 people in that stadium stand and cheer for the entire time it takes the batter to round the bases. Why? Why do we waste a few minutes of time to watch this guy slowly jog 360 feet with no chance of anything going wrong?
It’s because we realize just how hard it is to hit that home run. We know the hours that went into perfecting that swing. We know how many times that batter has failed before reaching that moment of pure bliss. And most of all we know that these incredibly successful moments don’t always happen. So we celebrate.
So when you book that next role, or you get accepted to a school- remind yourself of all the work it took to get here. Remind yourself that you may not be as successful the next time out. But most of all, celebrate this moment of success. You earned it.
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