Author Bio: Shelby Colgan has been a private flute teacher since 2008. Her studio is located in Woburn, MA. She is the creator of Conservatory Boot Camp, a 12-week intensive program for aspiring music majors. She Recently released The Conservatory Boot Camp Workbook, a self-guided audition companion for all instrumentalists who want to audition for a college music program. The workbook is available for PDF purchase at
She also maintains a twice-weekly blog about various music-related subjects. Updated every Wednesday and Sunday. Includes downloads, worksheets, and advice.
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Flute is a very popular instrument, so the competition during any audition is tough. When you play an instrument with so many individuals jockeying for so few available spaces, simply playing the audition music well isn’t enough. The following four steps will help your private flute students stand out from the crowd and achieve their goals.
1. Always prepare your students for the next level. When they’re in middle school, lay the foundation for high-school level skills. Explain to them the value of memorizing scales and practicing etudes as a way to learn the patterns and building blocks of music so that mastering pieces can happen quickly and efficiently. Teach your high school students how to think about music in a deep and analytical way instead of just playing it note-to-note. Talk about style with all of your students; help them see how the way music was played during different periods of history varies greatly from one era to the next, and what that means for the particular pieces your students are learning. Any intermediate-level flutist can handle the basics of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic style; as your students grow and refine their skills, challenge them to create the biggest contrast possible between these different idioms!
2. Encourage responsible, mature behavior. If you have a student auditioning for college, make sure they send a polite, concise email to their potential teacher requesting a meeting or trial lesson. This helps the student establish a connection and gives their potential teacher some context during the audition. If the student willingly accepts and applies suggestions made during their trial lesson, it shows commitment and makes them a more appealing candidate for admission.
3. Always make sure your students send a thank-you note to the person or jury who took the time to hear their audition. Make it clear that what comes before and after audition day is just as important as how the music is performed; a good first impression can easily tip the scales in favor of one competent student over another, and a courteous follow-up after audition day will strengthen that good impression.
4. Don’t let the audition environment come as a surprise! Do mock auditions. The key here is in the plural; do as many as your student needs to feel at ease in the situation. Practice how to walk into the audition room and how to make a graceful exit. Talk about the value of verbally thanking the jury before you leave the room. The jury will pick up on this level of confidence and ease, and it will show in your student’s audition score.
If you have a flute student preparing for college, consider adding The Conservatory Boot Camp Workbook to their weekly practice regimen. This self-guided audition companion is suitable for any instrumentalist looking to stand out from the rest and get into their school of choice. It is available for purchase here: