Auditions in a Changing Arts World

The March issue of the Juilliard Journal has an interesting opinion column by Ara Guzelimian, dean and provost of The Juilliard School. Guzelimian addresses the broad skill set that the current generation of musicians must possess to succeed.

A successful artist must be, first and foremost, a superb practitioner of their art—that hasn’t changed. But a successful artist in the 21st century also needs to be an effective communicator, advocate, entrepreneur, administrator, and wholly engaged participant in a broader community.

He then goes on to question whether typical performance auditions fail to identify students’ holistic potential.

Most, but not all, music auditions still faithfully follow a traditional model of required audition repertoire, with an opportunity to interview or explore a student’s interests at the faculty panel’s discretion. It may be valuable to ponder carefully how this process can evolve further.

I’ve heard throughout my life various formulas for success: 30% talent + 30% hard work + 40% luck, for example. No matter the formula, talent is always a smaller, albeit essential, slice of the pie.

Is it acceptable for schools to screen for talent only and let the real world take care of the rest? What training can schools provide to develop the auxiliary skills that contemporary artists need?

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