How to Get Into Juilliard

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With its acceptance rate of only 7.6 percent in the 2010 - 2011 school year, the Juilliard School is a highly competitive environment for aspiring performers and playwrights. Students must not only complete an application and submit letters of recommendation, but also must attend an audition or submit a sample play. Because Juilliard is internationally renowned for its music and drama programs, prospective students must be prepared to compete against some of the finest young actors, playwrights, dancers and musicians in the world.

1 Take private lessons for your art form

Take private lessons for your art form if you have not already begun to do so. Because the Juilliard School is so competitive, students without advanced training are unlikely to be accepted. Let your teacher know you intend to attend Juilliard so he knows how much to challenge you and can advise you on the areas you most need to improve.

2 Check the audition requirements for your department of choice

Check the audition requirements for your department of choice so you know what to practice. For instance, if you wish to audition for the dance school, you will have to prove your mastery of both modern dance and ballet even if you are only interested in one of those disciplines. If you are interested in certain music programs, you will have to submit an audio recording of yourself for pre-screening before you can audition.

3 Rehearse an audition piece

Rehearse an audition piece that highlights your strengths as a performer, beginning at least six months in advance so you have time to master it. Your teacher should be able to help you choose an appropriate piece. However, if you are auditioning for a program that requires multiple audition pieces, make sure your pieces are not too similar so the admissions staff will not think you lack range. If you are primarily a comedic actor, for instance, prepare at least one dramatic monologue to demonstrate your breadth as an actor. If you are applying for the playwriting program, write a play showcasing your strengths as a writer and ask your English teacher and any creative writing tutors to help you polish it.

4 Practice your audition piece in front of an audience

Practice your audition piece in front of an audience to help you overcome nervousness. Ask the people watching you for advice. It can be useful to get a perspective other than that of your teacher.

5 Maintain good grades in your academic courses

Maintain good grades in your academic courses, particularly English. Although Juilliard does not have a minimum GPA or class rank for acceptance, they do require your transcripts to make sure you are capable of handling college-level work. Furthermore, Juilliard strongly encourages that one of your letters of recommendation come from an English teacher and ask that the letter emphasizes your speaking, reading and writing skills.

6 Write an application essay

Write an application essay emphasizing the importance of the arts in your life, even if you choose an essay topic that does not explicitly address the arts. Because Juilliard does not use Common Application questions, they expect you to write essays just for them rather than recycling your other essays. Use specific examples. Rather than saying, for instance, "My mother taught me that music was important," describe the way she took off work early to drive you to orchestra rehearsals and bent over backwards to arrange your schedule so you had two hours to practice every day.

7 Ask your parents and teachers

Ask your parents and teachers to read your admissions essays for you and make suggestions.

8 Sleep well before your audition

Sleep well the night before your audition. Eat a balanced breakfast. Double-check the time and location of the audition and show up at least 20 minutes early. Although it may be impossible not to feel nervous, do your best to appear self-confident.

A resident of the Baltimore area, Rachel Kolar has been writing since 2001. Her educational research was featured at the Maryland State Department of Education Professional Schools Development Conference in 2008. Kolar holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kenyon College and a Master of Arts in teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.