Leeds College of Music Applicants 2015Watch
What course/s have you applied for?
If you have any questions feel free to ask!
Leeds has been my first choice all along, the only place I'd really thought about going to Uni. When I applied I was only ever really thinking about Leeds. I got to know the website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram back to front, made myself totally familiar with the names of the staff and their backgrounds and everything. I became so obsessed with going to Leeds College of Music that I'd only glanced over the other options before applying for my choices. I decided that I'd focus all of my energy on preparing for my Leeds audition, be as good for that as I possibly could be, and I wouldn't have to go to the other auditions if I'd done well enough.
My audition was for Pop Vocals. I'm already a pretty good pianist. I'm totally comfortable about that. The reason I want to study vocals is because it's the thing I'm "alright" at, and want to be better at. I didn't want to take the easy option and audition with piano and do the piano course because in the long run career-wise, I don't see myself as a good pianist who sings a bit, I see myself as a really good vocalist who also happens to play piano pretty well.
Bleh anyway, I turned up to the College, went up the stairs and met the student helpers who were really really lovely and chatty, they offered me a drink and gave me plenty of advice and words of support. When it was time, they came across and showed me to a rehearsal room with a piano, and the girl said she'd come in half and hour and take me to my audition room.
So I sat and ran through my vocal exercises and practiced my songs (I did 'Satellite' by Dave Matthews Band and a reworked version of 'Sweet Dreams' with a jazzy, quite upbeat chord progression I came up with.) By the time she came back and got me and took me to the audition room, I was feeling all warmed up and confident and ready.
I got shown into the audition room, shook hands with Danny Cope and Jonny Flockton, I sat down and they explained how the audition would work, I'd play my songs, they'd film them, then I'd sit down for the interview.
I played my songs, Danny made me sing with and without the mic to see what my projection's like. I think I played and sang the songs about as well as I could, they almost seemed impressed! I sat down in front of them again afterwards for the interview.
This is the part where I slowly started turning to absolute mush. They asked me who my influences were vocally and in terms of songwriting. Admittedly, a part of me wanted to impress them, and went on for about ten minutes listing my favourite artists, Beck, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon and then some quite obscure like Harry Nilsson, Mariza, Milton Nascimento and Sufjan Stevens. They were confused about how passionate in my personal statement I was about my writing and my process, and they didn't understand why I didn't play any of my songs. I guess a part of me didn't want to play them any of my own songs because I knew they'd be weirded out completely. I write strange, weird songs, Angela Carter-esque gothic fairytales with characters and universes I'd created. Happy, crazy music set to completely dark, twisted lyrics. While I'm not ashamed of them, I just didn't feel them appropriate for audition I guess. They're a bit much to take in.
They asked me to play something I'd written anyway, and I explained to them the concept behind a song I wrote called Carousel (Boy and girl on a carousel, he falls off, tries to jump back on, by the time he gets back on she's having it off with the carousel operator and he jumps off and kills himself.) and played it for them. Their jaws were to the ground. I think they thought I was crazy, a total mutt. They commended me for my writing, but put it under the label of being "too musical-theatre" and twisted for Pop. I got quite tetchy and said I thought it was pretty valid Pop. If you listen to Harry Nilsson's songs; he wrote 'Without You' and 'Everybody's Talking', which were quite mainstream, but if you listen to his other songs, he wrote crazy, layered, colourful, whimsical Pop songsThey asked me if I could write anything more commercial, and I tentatively said I probably could, and while I'm more than open to suggestions and advice, I'm not prepared to be something I'm not, and make music I don't want to make for the sake of what other people enjoy. They raised their eyebrows and looked over my notes again. I don't think they liked my answer at all. I said I work well writing with others. I like the process of taking an idea and everybody contributing towards it to make it bigger and better. They asked if I enjoyed writing with others because I needed the "validation" from others. How are you supposed to answer that? I couldn't decide whether it was a personal attack or what. I said not at all, and that I just thought it was a better process. I walked out feeling totally disheartened and depressed, as if they'd tried to attack me with labels and tried to work out exactly how to pigeonhole me. I know it might sound silly but I guess it felt pretty horrible.
After this I got taken to the ensemble workshop, where we were told we had to decide upon a song and reinterpret the chorus. I was put with a pianist and a guitarist, who were both really good (pianist definitely better than me), and we decided on Superstition by Stevie Wonder. They'd work something up together on their instruments and I'd come in with my voice once I'd decided on some kind of melody I thought would work with it. I suggested chord progressions and things here and there, and on the whole it sounded pretty good and we all did well. While we didn't come up with a final solid chorus, they seemed kind of impressed by what we had come up with (I use the word "impressed" loosely, they were really hard to impress.)
So I just got home anyway, feeling kind of scared for me and my future after that mess of an audition. I know all I can do is wait for a response, but how long do they usually take to give one? I should probably mention I took a year out between College and Uni for personal reasons, so I'm not waiting on any results for anything. Should they give me an answer sooner because of that? What do you reckon? :/
Thanks for reading my essay hahaha
Thanks for getting in touch, my name is Rachael and I’m a folk singer – I work at Leeds College of Music and I gig all over the place... I remember when I went through auditions to study and it was really similar to this – I’ve studied at undergraduate and postgraduate now.
The academics have a set list of questions that they ask everyone and they really have to take everything apart to see who you are and find out what your writing styles are like. Everyone will have been pushed on their answers as you were, don’t worry. I think you’ve been really true to yourself, so it doesn’t sound disastrous to me and I think you should feel heartened by the fact that you know what you want to do musically. We are just very rigorous in how we approach performers and songwriters!
Keep writing – all audition processes are as in-depth as this, it’s just so we really get to know you as a musician.
It normally takes around three weeks for us to get back to you after auditions.
Drop me a line if you want to chat about anything
Rachael 0113 222 3407
I wonder what appropriate audition pieces would be for the undergraduate BA Hons in Classical for piano and violin. I know that generally only one main specialism is permitted, but I wanted to know about good repertoire for both instruments. Possible sonatas, etudes, encore-style pieces etc. I just don't know what kind of music the panel will want to hear! Also - in terms of the piano - are transcriptions of such things as symphonies allowed, or are they frowned upon?