Surviving Juries: Finals Advice for Music Majors

So, you are probably wondering what exactly is a jury and why do music majors have to deal with something we normally equate with a courtroom? Well, my friends, a jury is the word used to describe a final playing exam for applied music lessons in college. Just as with music theory, music history, and your general education classes, your lessons have a final. The specifics will vary from school to school and from professor to professor as far as what is required. As always, check with your school for specifics on what you need to know. I am here for the more general stuff.

Killer Harmony | Surviving Juries | If you take private music lessons in college, you probably have to take a jury at the end of the semester. Here's how to prepare for juries.

Here are some common questions you might want the answer to on juries.

When do you take your jury?
Juries happen during finals week, the specific days will be determined by your area of study. For instance, last semester at my college, Woodwinds had juries on Tuesday and Wednesday, Voice was Monday and Thursday, etc. the faculty got together and set the schedule for the week.
Where are juries held?
Obviously in the music building somewhere, but it might depend on what the faculty need, what you as a student need, and what room is available. My juries happen in the recital hall of my college’s music building.
Do you have to take your jury at an assigned time?
Not necessarily. While you might have to stick to a specific day or two, professors realize that you have other finals that do have assigned times. The way my music department does it is they put up a sign up sheet a few weeks before juries so that you can look at your schedule and find what works. Just make sure that if you need an accompanist for your jury that you schedule to play when they can be there.
What do you play in a jury?
It can vary depending on your level of skill on the instrument, but usually some solo repertoire with piano (or without). If you have not passed all of your scale tests, you might be required to play scales either at the same time as your solos or during a different time slot. Check with your applied instructor.
Any other tips for preparing for a jury?
Give yourself enough time to practice your pieces. If you haven’t had your pieces all semester, it will take more time now to get to the level you need for performance. Also, try to schedule your jury so that both you and your accompanist are available about 30 minutes before hand. This way, you can run through the music one last time in a practice room before you have to do it for real on stage.
What other finals do you have to take that are specific to music majors?
For the first two years or so of college, you will have to take both music theory and ear training/sight singing classes. You will probably have finals in these, and they can be difficult, but are not that bad. Music history is another one specific to music. Other than that, it’s mostly just your general education classes that will have finals.
Do ensembles have a final?
In my experience, no. Depending on if your college requires every for-credit class (which includes music ensembles) to have a final exam or not, you may be able to get away with your final concert being the “final exam.”
My other tips: As with any class, it is important to give yourself enough time to study and prepare for exams ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute and then having to cram. I don’t really tend to procrastinate so maybe it’s easier said than done, but it is so worth it. Sleep is invaluable during finals week. Don’t pull all-nighters. I’ve been in college almost three years now and not once have I pulled an all-nighter. If you plan your time right, you can get through finals (and an entire semester) without having to go a night without sleep.
And always remember the words of Dory “just keep swimming,” because after finals, you will have a well deserved break from classes, but you’re still gonna practice right? 😉
Thanks for reading!
Do you have any tips for music majors and juries or for finals in general? Comment below or tweet me at @HannahHaefele

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