Larry Krantz Flute Pages: College Entrance Standards for Flute

This Survey Created by
Carolyn Krysl-Hutchinson

Respondents are identified by a letter only for the sake of comparison of views. I have promised anonymity to them and will not reveal who they are or where they teach. The views presented are solely the views of the respondent, and have only been edited for grammatical content or to remove obvious clues as to the respondent's location. Any changes that I have made or added are bracketed. Some of the respondents did not answer every question. You will find after reading and comparing the answers that there are no magic answers. There is no one consensus on each answer.

1) What are your technical expectations for incoming freshman, i.e. knowledge of scales, use of methods like Taffanel, memorization, etc?

  • Performance: All major and harmonic minor scales (full range or T&G [Taffanel & Gaubert ] scales would be best) by memory. Music ed/minor: All major scales. Memory (Respondent A)

  • I expect all incoming freshman to know all of their major scales at east two octaves and chromatic scale 3 octaves. I expect these to be executed flawlessly in 16ths at least quarter = 100. Knowledge of minor scales is good but not essential. (Respondent B)

  • Since I teach at a small university School of Music, situated in a rural area, many of my incoming students have had little of no prior training with a private instructor. As such, the expectations are rather limited in terms of technique. Over the years, we have found that the best judge of their potential centres around the musicality shown, no matter what the level of technique. If they play expressively, and show some sensitivity to the style of the piece, *and* if they have at least some rudimentary ear training skills, then they are generally admitted without difficulty. If these skills are lacking, and if the technical and musical levels are also rudimentary, then we usually recommend a year of general arts study, while they upgrade their instrumental study with private lessons, and usually a Materials course as well, to help with basic reading and ear training skills. (Respondent C)

  • I would like the students to have a working relationship with the Taffanel and Gaubert. I would like them to also have completed Andersen, Op. 33, 30, 63, 15, Berbiguier 18 Exercises, Boehm 24 Caprices, Hugues, Op. 101, Karg-Elert 30 Caprices. (Respondent D)

  • As for basic skills for incoming music performance majors, I would expect every student to have all major/minor scales and arpeggios memorized for two octaves. I also emphasize memorization of Taffanel/Gaubert E.J. 4 [daily exercise #4]. (Respondent E)

  • I would expect them to know their major scales and arpeggios, minors would also be helpful. Chromatic scale from c1 to c4 would be expected. Familiarity with Taffanel and Gaubert and/or Reichert would also be a plus. (Respondent F)

  • Scales in all keys, full range, as well as all forms of the minor scales. Use of methods is indicative of teacher and strength of background, but not a requirement per se. Memorization is optional. Above all, the student should have a strong, mature tone; excellent technical and rhythmical control; and a sense of musical personality and expression in their playing. (Respondent G)

  • I would love to have students acquainted with Taffanel-Gaubert or Marcel Moyse's Daily Studies, who knows major scales/arpeggios to Bb-B, and the harmonic and melodic minors as well. My absolute minimum is two octave scales, major -- with arpeggios. (Respondent H)

2) What are your expectations of the quality or level of literature that they should be playing during the last two years of high school?

  • Performance: Handel sonatas, Mozart Concerto (either), French conservatory piece. Music ed/minor: easier Handel sonatas, things like Godard Allegretto, Busser - "The Swan" or "The Squirrel", Telemann - Overture to Suite in a minor, etc. (Respondent A)

  • They should be playing works from the standard flute repertoire, not stuff out of "concert and contest collections" and the like. (Respondent B)

  • We advertise that the repertoire performed should be equivalent to Royal Conservatory Grade 8, or Western Board Grade 7 levels. Some samples would be: Handel Sonata in A minor; Mozart Andante in C; Heiden Sonatina; perhaps a study from the Kohler Opus 33, or Andersen Opus 33 (Melodious & Progressive Studies, Book 1) (Respondent C)

  • Bach sonatas in C major, Eb Major, e minor, a minor; Mozart concerti in G major and D major; Flute Music by French Composers (know 3-4); sonatas by Hindemith, Heiden, Poulenc, Reinecke; Divertimento by Kuhlau, solo works for flute ( Debussy, Karg-Elert, La Montaine, Ferrou, Honegger). (Respondent D)

  • A performance major should have studied several Bach sonatas, Mozart concertos, and some of the advanced repertoire: Chaminade, Prokofiev, Nielsen, Ibert, etc. (Respondent E)

  • Etudes: Those of the level of the Selected Studies by Rubank. Literature: Bach Sonatas, Mozart Concerti, Music by French Composers, other Class I literature found in the Texas PML [Prescribed Music List]. (Respondent F)

  • Their repertoire should be at least at the level of the Mozart Concertos, Chaminade Concertino, Poulenc and Hindemith sonatas, Burton Sonatine, Conservatoire contest pieces, etc. (Respondent G)

  • Anyone seriously considering the flute should be playing out of the Flute Music by French Composers book by at least their senior year. They should have some grasp of basic tone, some dynamic range, and play with some degree of involvement with the music. (Respondent H)

3) Please name no more than 5 works from the flute literature that work especially well as audition pieces, live or taped.

  • Performance or Music ed/minor: Hue, Fantasy; Faure, Fantasy; Mozart, G Major Concerto; Kuhlau, F Major Sonata; Poulenc, Sonata. Avoid "show pieces"--its not so much the piece, but how its played! (Respondent A)

  • Hindemith Sonata, any Bach sonata, any Mozart concerto, Griffes Poem, the Chaminade (or similar French solo) (Respondent B)

  • Handel Sonata in A minor; Mozart Andante in C; Heiden Sonatina; perhaps a study from the Kohler Opus 33, or Andersen Opus 33 (Melodious & Progressive Studies, Book 1) (Respondent C)

  • Baroque work--Telemann Fantasies, Mozart Concerto, or a contemporary work--may be a concerto or sonata. I try to look at what the student does well and choose in that area. (Respondent D)

  • For an overall audition list, I go for variety. A Baroque piece, Classical piece, Romantic piece and Twentieth century piece. A good selection for a high school student might be: Bach's Sonata in e, Mozart's Concerto in G, Gaubert's Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando, and nice American piece: something from Griffes, Hoover, or Muczynski. (Respondent E)

  • Bach Sonatas, Mozart Concerti, Enesco Cantabile and Presto, Poulenc Sonata, etc. (Respondent F)

  • Mozart Concertos, Chaminade Concertino, Poulenc and Hindemith sonatas, Burton Sonatine, Conservatoire contest pieces, etc. It's a bit boring, but these rather "tried-but-true" chestnuts of our repertoire will say great deal about a student's musical and technical maturity. Students who audition on works that are clearly above their playing level will significantly degrade their performance score. Playing the Ibert Concerto badly is not a strong indicator of the student (or the teacher!). (Respondent G)

  • Anything from Flute Music by French Composers. One or two movements from Hindemith Sonata, or Poulenc Sonata, Danse de la Chevre, or Syrinx. (Respondent H)

4) What type of high school experiences are you looking for as a possible indication of future success and commitment as a flutist?

  • Care in preparation; mature, professional attitude in audition; solid basic technique, centered tone; some musical sense (ability to make a musical line). (Do you mean All State Band, winning competitions, etc.?) If that's what you mean, I don't care what anybody won, only how they play and what their attitude is. (Respondent A)

  • Participation in school band and orchestra programs, All-State band and orchestra programs, solo and ensemble competitions, other competitions, and high school solo recitals or partial recitals (Respondent B)

  • Apart from participation in band, we would expect some experience with local and regional music festival in solo competition. Attendance at one of the [regional] band camps each year is common, but certainly not a requirement. Other activities involving leadership roles in a band executive, other performance opportunities like musicals, would also raise the potential of a student. (Respondent C)

  • Any high school student should be extremely well-rounded for success at a large institution: good grades, athletic experience, student council, etc. Most high school students who only play music would simply not make it here. All these qualities lead to someone who works extraordinarily hard (not necessarily a prodigy!) and is quite outgoing. (Respondent E)

  • I think to be a "successful" flutist you must be a "successful" person. By that I mean that one should strive to have a well-rounded scholastic education, an awareness of the world around them, and a concept of personal character development. Good grades and participation in civic, church-related, and other non-music, extra-curricular activities gives us a clue that a student can define himself apart from his instrument. Being a good or great flutist isn't much if you are undisciplined, self-centered, or can't see beyond the flute. (Respondent F)

  • Belonging to a local flute club/society, a flute choir; having competed in competitions locally and state-wide; participation in All-State ensembles; participation in summer festivals and master classes; having studied with a private teacher for several years; and aggressiveness in how the student contacts the school and teacher (i.e. does the student write directly to the prospective professor? Request an introductory lesson? Ask questions about the program?) (Respondent G)

  • I'm looking for evidence of having had goals and having worked toward them. I'd rather have a scrapper that's had less success than a lackadaisical student born with a silver flute in his mouth. (Respondent H)

5) What character qualities are you looking for in prospective flute students? What is it that makes you go the extra mile for your students? What is your biggest pet peeve with students?

  • Dedication, willingness to work. Knowing they are working hard and doing their best. Pet Peeve: Lack of dedication. (Respondent A)

  • I want someone who is intelligent and industrious, who wants to work hard and be the best that they can be. Pet Peeve: Students who don't practice and make excuses. (Respondent B)

  • I look for self confidence, first and foremost. With that, (and NOT egocentricity) one can teach just about anything else that is deficient. I will try harder for any student who also tries, no matter what their actual level of technique or tone development. I get frustrated with students who have no real idea of the difference between their performing level and that of a professional....students who come into college with two years of lessons, five years of band, and they want to be orchestral flute players when they graduate. Actually, it's their music teachers who encourage them beyond all reason that I should be getting after, I guess. (Respondent C)

  • I prefer students who are committed. If they are committed, I can make them (with their help) into a fine musician. If they aren't bringing as much energy into the lessons as I am, I am disappointed. I try to look at what the student does well and choose in that area. (Respondent D)

  • I am looking for someone who show signs of maturity in thought and action. A student has to be committed to change. My biggest pet peeve is when students whine when being asked to stretch their abilities and grow into the next level. (Respondent F)

  • Attitude. Sense of humor. Attitude. Personal maturity. Attitude. Responsibility. Attitude. Aggressiveness. Attitude. [What is it that makes you go the extra mile for your students?] Respect for the teacher. Pet peeve with students? Laziness. (Respondent G)

  • Character qualities: An internal motor that makes them an active participant in their own future -- what I call the *hunger*. A willingness to take chances and try new ideas. I'll go the extra mile for anyone who's really hungry for improvement -- I'll be there with a fork! My biggest pet peeve is *weasels* who want credit for no particular work, and always have an iron-clad excuse for everything. They are the first to condemn everything around them, and are never ready to take responsibility for their own inaction. (Respondent H)

6) What specific qualities are college music autditioning committees looking for in prospective students? Beyond learning the right notes, how can a student prepare for an audition to present themselves in the best possible light?

  • Some degree of musical talent of course, but a dedication to music and a desire to work toward excellence. Be pleasant, professional, polite. Do not try to impress an audition committee by telling them how wonderful you are, you must show them through your playing. Dress conservatively and neatly. (Respondent A)

  • We are looking for a student who enjoys playing and puts a personal stamp of interpretation on a piece, i.e. someone who plays with personality. (Respondent B)

  • Confidence, a variety of musical styles, and an appearance of actually enjoying their own performance. If performing is something they fear, why are they going into it for a living? (I consider teaching to be a form of performing.) (Respondent C)

  • Remember, most of these auditions are only ten minutes...and judges usually make up their mind after the first ten notes. Thus it is most important to have a focused, mature tone. Knowledge of the notes never helps you, but lack of the required technique definitely hurts you.. What I mean is that if you only know the notes, it doesn't impress anyone [because knowing the notes is expected], whereas missing notes is definitely a sign of ill preparation. Notes are only the beginning. (Respondent E)

  • A student can better impress any audition committee by knowing something about the program and the teachers involved. The student needs to show a DESIRE to be at that school and a curiosity about everything there. It's always disappointing when a student doesn't have a single question for the audition committee at the end of their performance. (We always give them a chance to talk and ask questions.) Also, a student that is mature, cheerful, positive, and well-dressed (!!!) makes a world of difference. (Respondent G)

  • I'm looking for musicality. It's fine to have a lot of notes, but better to have some tone, phrasing, dynamics, and a grasp of pulse. Students who want to make a really good impression should play their music with conviction and emotional involvement. If they enjoy it, we will too, and that's the mark of a performer. Even if they fluff some notes, we'll know that THIS one has potential. (Respondent H)

7) What should students do who are in need of scholarship help? What can a high school flutist do to increase his or her odds on securing scholarship assistance?

  • Audition! All a school can do is say no. Find out what the school expects on an audition and prepare to the best of your ability. Apply to a number of schools. Don't forget the smaller schools, many offer an excellent music education at a fraction of the price of the bigger ones and the chances of a scholarship are much better. (Respondent A)

  • Find out where there are schools that offer good scholarships and go for it. Many schools offer scholarships based solely on merit or music ability, not on financial need. An outstanding academic record also helps. (Respondent B)

  • Practice. (Respondent C)

  • You need to contact a variety of schools. Talk to your band or orchestra director and get some recommendations. They are often in contact with the regional colleges and universities. Talk to the flute teacher and find out what his expectations for auditions are. (Respondent F)

  • In my book, the definition of a scholarship is that of an award based not upon need, but upon achievement and ability. If a students plays well, shows talent and promise, then they've done all that they can do. (Respondent G)

  • I think flexibility is the key here. Money is scarce, and if there is any, it might not be *flute* money necessarily. But if they're willing to, say, haul stuff for the band department or work in the music library or in the case of graduates, proctor a Music Appreciation class, the possibility of funding opens up. Many schools allow "stacked" scholarships-- that is, a music one and an academic one to be added together. So a good high school record and a high SAT score help a lot. (Respondent H)

8) Please comment on instrument choices for students who cannot afford a more expensive professional model (such as a Brannen) while in undergraduate school. Which flutes will serve them well through 4-5 years of undergraduate flute study at the college or university level?

  • My students have been very successful with Altus/Jupiter. (Respondent A)

  • Yamaha, Pearl, Muramatsu, etc., but not Gemeinhardt. (Respondent B)

  • I recommend mid-priced Sankyo, Mateki, even Yamaha if that's all they can afford. The most important thing is to have a hand-made headjoint if at all possible. (Respondent C)

  • A good instrument is key to success at any institution--for the flute it's not merely snobbery. Students with bad instruments simple have no chance to compete on the same level as those with artist quality models. Good compromises between budget and quality are: Yamaha, Sankyo, Miyazawa, and David Lusk. At any rate, these models MUST be artist quality instruments to merit admission. (Respondent E)

  • Yamaha 581H body with a quality handmade headjoint by Powell, Brannen, Williams, Lehner, etc. (Respondent F)

  • I'm particularly impressed now with the Altus line of flutes. I recently bought a $2,500 model that plays almost better than my $10,000 Powell. (Respondent G)

  • If they mean to earn a Master's in performance, they ought to have the best flute they can get by at least their Senior year. An upper-line intermediate Yamaha might be okay. Jupiters have worked. I had a Sankyo that served me well. It should be silver-bodied, silver mouthpiece, open hole. They can fudge with plated keys, a C-foot, or maybe a reconditioned or GENTLY used flute. It should run between $1200-2000. Sometimes if they have an okay flute, the student can get a really good mouthpiece and *bump up* their instrument. (Respondent H)

9) Other Comments?

  • Each school draws from a different pool of prospective students. I teach in a small state university in [the South]. The students I get are not on the level that an Indiana, North Texas, etc. Therefore my standards "in the real world" will be less than that of the "big boys". I feel our students still get a top grade music education, but we have to start with them where they are and go from there. Second, I have different expectations for incoming performance majors and music ed or music minors. (Respondent A)

  • I shudder every time I read the bio of a prospective student from a small town, who gets raves from the local band teacher, because this student played flute in band, sax in jazz band, clarinet in musicals, euphonium in brass ensemble, and piano in choir. Yes they show talent, but have they learned to do any of these instruments properly, let alone well?!! (Respondent C)

  • I teach at [a junior college that is affiliated with a religious denomination], and I get students from all around the world. It Is interesting to see how they have been prepared. [There are] 8,000 students--1200 in music department-- 42 flutists! Interesting mix. (Respondent D)

  • I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant and not the principal instructor at [a large music school at a recognized university]. However I do help him with instruction, juries, and admission. As with any competitive program in the arts, admissions criteria are highly subjective. As for education majors, I expect MORE! After all, performers just do it.…educators have to teach it. In my mind the latter is much more difficult. (Respondent E)

  • If you go into music education, then make sure you really want to work with children. Teaching has its own stresses with discipline, administration, parents, etc. Teaching in the public school as a daily job is much different than playing your instrument in band or orchestra and practicing at home. If you go into performance, make sure you also have another field of study. Music performance can be a difficult career choice—there are far more people than jobs. You need to have skills so you are employable. Don't just get a music education degree "for something to fall back on.". If you really don't enjoy working with students, you will be miserable. Take some business or computer programming classes—anything that will feed you adequately. At the very minimum, learn how to teach private lessons. Continuing to live like a student will become tiring after you are out of school for some time, especially if you have a family. (Respondent F)

  • Sometimes a prospective student may not want to audition because they don't play well, having had little or no training. However, if they really want to learn the instrument and have serious intent, I'll take them even if they walk in blowing through their ear! Ignorance is not stupidity. I can't do anything about the latter -- but ignorance is what we're here to help with! I guess my comment is *don't be shy -- try!* (Respondent H)

Printed with the kind permission of Carolyn Krysl-Hutchinson

Return to Careers/College Prep/Auditions page