Hi George, great blog. I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to audition for a college teaching job? I have an audition coming up and I'm a little nervous about it. I have to work with the small jazz groups and big band, and also give a lecture. How should I approach it? Also, should I bring my own music for the ensembles to play? Or is that too egotistical? Any advice would be appreciated.
First of all, try not to be nervous! I realize that this is natural, but keep in mind that many search committees already have an idea of who they want before you even arrive to audition. Truthfully, and I speak from experience, you may have the best audition of your life, but the job might already be slated for the person with the inside track. The committee will never admit this, but it's an annoying truth about faculty searches. I've been on both sides. I think it's important to be fair and objective, but unfortunately, human nature doesn't always account for this. All of that being said, try not to think about how much you want that particular job, but just focus on your presentation and the act of teaching and lecturing. if the job is meant to be yours, it will be. It's best to realize that once you begin, it's out of your hands.
|The search committee might already know who they want....|
I like to thinking of teaching as part preparation and part improvisation. By that, I mean you should bring materials and do some preparation. Have something in mind for the ensembles to play. You might even consider over-preparing. This will insure that there is no dead space during the audition. You don't want to give the impression that you lack information. The committee wants to believe that you have enough information for 4 years or more of a student's tenure, not just enough to pass an audition. So you want to give the impression of depth of knowledge.
I believe that one of the main factors in my landing of the Portland State University job was my lecture. The PSU search committee was looking for someone to teach jazz history. One, I had been teaching jazz history for two years at University of Manitoba. So I had some experience under my belt. Also, I used Powerpoint for the lecture; this seemed to make all the difference in the world, because it shows your ideas in a very organized way. (I got the idea from my students in Winnipeg, who seemed to be very adept with powerpoint.) You can embed audio files or links to youtube; everything is easily self-contained.
|Don't be afraid to over-prepare for your lecture|
I think it's cool to bring your own music for the ensembles. This might also distinguish you from someone who just brings stock arrangements. It really depends on the level of the students and whether they stand a chance of playing your music. Try to get a sense of the level of the ensemble from the faculty contact. Maybe even send material in advance, if allowed. Maybe bring a mixture of your tunes and then some standard material. You'll be surprised; oftentimes the ensemble which is considered the most advanced might not be able to play a blues! or they might be playing at a pro level. Be prepared for a contingency such as this.