Music school juries can seem like the most terrifying thing in the world. However, they don’t have to be that way. If you know how to practice well and you make good progress in a semester, you’ll be fine.
But what are music school juries? And is there anything you can do to prepare for them? Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Music School Juries?
When you think of a jury, you probably think about a courtroom. But music school juries are also a thing. And for music school, the word “jury” doesn’t really mean the same thing as in court.
The exact format of music school juries varies from school to school, but it’s basically the final exam for your private lessons.
Just think about it…
Lessons as a class
Before college, you probably took private lessons. In some cases, you may take lessons through your public school. But most of us took lessons outside of school.
In my case, I either went to a local music studio/store or to my teacher’s house. It never felt like a class, but it was always an educational experience.
But in college, you have to enroll in lessons like you would any other class. At the end of the semester, you’ll get a grade for lessons like other classes.
And you have assignments for your lessons, like other classes. The difference is that your assignments are based on practicing your instrument.
Classes have finals
Since your lessons are a considered a class, you can expect some sort of final exam. In music theory, you have to take a test. You may have a sight-singing and dictation exam for aural skills.
And for your private lessons? You can expect to play and be graded on that playing.
Ideally, you would know more about playing your instrument than you did at the beginning of the semester.
But instead of knowing dates and names, you may know a piece of music. And your teacher should grade you on that piece. It is a class.
A performance final
Since private lessons are a class, they should have some sort of exam. While you may not have to take a written test on the history of your instrument, you have to prove you learned something.
Music school juries typically involve a group of faculty members. In many cases, the faculty separate into groups: woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, voice, and keyboard.
As a flute major, I have performed my juries in front of the woodwind faculty.
Not only will your primary teacher grade you, but so will the other teachers in the woodwind/brass/etc. area.
How to Prepare for Music School Juries
Preparing for music school juries may sound overwhelming. You have this performance final, and you don’t want to mess up.
Of course, you want to do your best. But have you ever heard to start studying for finals early?
That applies to music school juries even more so. You should start preparing really from the beginning of the semester. But if you haven’t, start now.
Scales and arpeggios
One of the biggest foundations to any instrument is scales and arpeggios. If you have good command over all of your major and minor scales, you can more easily learn most parts of music.
Add solid arpeggio skills, and you can easily learn pretty much anything out there.
Of course, a new piece will always be hard. However, knowing your scales and arpeggios will help you learn a piece more quickly and efficiently.
Hopefully by now, your teacher will have assigned or helped you choose a piece for this semester of music school juries. If you haven’t chosen a piece, you need to do that soon so that you have enough time to learn it.
You should learn a piece that is just outside of your comfort zone. It should challenge you to be a better player. But it shouldn’t be so hard that you can’t play it at all.
If you don’t know what pieces to learn, ask your teacher. They probably have a good idea of your level and can suggest a piece or two.
After you practice your fundamentals, you should dedicate enough time to your solo each day.
Unfortunately, music school juries aren’t the only thing you have to practice for. You probably have a concert or two between now and the end of the semester.
The more you have to practice, the harder it can be to make progress on everything.
That means that you have to be as efficient with your time as possible. Go into a practice session knowing what you have to work on and what you want to accomplish.
And that doesn’t stop with music school juries. Apply that planning and executing to anything you have to practice.
How do you prepare for music school juries? Is there anything you wish you knew before your first jury? And if this is your first semester of juries, what else do you want to know?