Preparations for a future in the arts

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Preparations for a future in the arts

Senior Christian Schmidt works on composing music for his college portfolio.

Senior Christian Schmidt works on composing music for his college portfolio.

Colin Henke

Senior Christian Schmidt works on composing music for his college portfolio.

Colin Henke

Colin Henke

Senior Christian Schmidt works on composing music for his college portfolio.

Emma Searle, Assistant Editor in Chief

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While most seniors are taking the last of their SATs and finalizing résumés for college, those looking to pursue an education in the performing arts after graduating from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) are attending auditions, filming prescreen tapes, and creating portfolios.

The grueling application process for students interested in musical theater, musical composition, dance performance, and other performing arts tends to begin early in their senior year. Although their deadlines often align with Early Action, an option for students who want to hear back from schools faster, applying Early Action is not an option for those looking to be accepted to performing arts schools and programs. Sam Cassidy, a first-year musical theater student at Rider University, had sent in her applications by September of last year, even though she would not know whether she had been accepted into her intended program until a much later date.

Senior Dougie Norton, who hopes to study theater and performance at a college or university next year, said, “I was prepared for [applying], but not for the timeline of it. Having to schedule auditions means that most of your application must be sent in earlier than the generic deadline.”

A requirement for some performing arts applications is the submission of a portfolio that may be comprised of performance video, demo recordings, and original works. For senior Christian Schmidt, who plans on double-majoring in mathematics and musical composition, challenging application requirements that include a comprehensive portfolio and creating advanced-level work have proven to be surprisingly enjoyable: “It forces me to put my music knowledge on paper and test my abilities. I’m excited to challenge myself.”

Dougie expressed his admiration for the audition part of the process, too. “I’ve gone to a couple of auditions, and I haven’t had a bad experience,” he said. “They’ve always been my favorite part [of the application process], because I get to see the school and I get to talk to the faculty one-on-one.”

Prior to being invited to audition, some schools require students to send in a prescreen video. Prescreens are recorded videos similar to auditions, sent in for review by admissions officers before you are invited to the school for a live audition.

As for the audition portion of a performing arts application, a number of students have looked to an audition coach. Dougie used popular coaching company My College Audition, and appreciated the help he received from visits to their Boston headquarters as well as video-chat calls.

Senior Josephine Orr, who is looking to receive a B.F.A. in musical theater, mentioned a popular phrase told to those embarking on a career in performing arts: “If you can see yourself doing something else, do it,” but said, “There was no other option for me; I want to do what I love.”

This passion was found to be consistent throughout a number of students who plan on furthering their educations in the performing arts field. Dougie said, “I never wanted to be a performing arts major until I got to high school, and now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

About the Writer
Emma Searle, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Emma Searle has worked on the High School View since her junior year and currently serves as Assistant Editor-in-Chief. Emma enjoys getting the chance...

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