If you’ve been considered majoring in music after high school, what do you need to do to prepare? I’ve asked my former university professor, Dr. Sydney Carlson, to share her perspective on what you can do to be ready for the next level.
Dr. Carlson is currently the professor of flute at Portland State University and a member of the Portland Opera Orchestra. Throughout her career, Dr. Carlson has been on the faculty of University of Houston and Stephen F. Austin. Her students have been accepted for further studies at Yale, Cal Arts, the Curtis Institute, Rice, Baylor, the Paris Conservatoire at Versailles and the Boston Conservatory. She has performed with various orchestras and chamber groups around the world, including 15 seasons with the Houston Grand Opera, and holds music degrees from the Eastman School of Music, East Carolina University and the University of Houston. In addition, she has studied flutists Byron Hester, Bonita Boyd, and David Shostac, and performed in the master classes of Julius Baker, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Robert Aitken, Samuel Baron and James Walker. She has recorded on the Mark, Delos, Albany, Guild, CIEM, and Urtext Digital labels.
What is the difference between a university music program and a conservatory program?
Both have advantages. At a conservatory, you are immersed in a highly charged musical atmosphere. Universities can have more varied opportunities and allow students to change majors easily. Some universities have highly acclaimed music programs, for example, Indiana University, Northwestern University, Rice University or Boston University.
What are the advantages of local music school programs?
Instate tuition and local auditions cost less. You can also meet the teacher and see the school very easily.
Does attending a summer music program have any advantages for prospective music majors?
When you go to summer programs (like flute symposiums or workshops), you can talk to other students about their plans and the teachers they like. You can also get a feel about the teacher and how they feel about you. You will be spending a lot of time with this person, so be sure you “click”!
You may want to take a trial lesson with the teacher as well. Make sure to thank them with a card or email afterwards if you do.
If a flutist is auditioning, what do they need to know?
An in person audition is always best. However, taping the first round audition can save you money in the long run. If you go this route, plan early, secure a location and pianist if necessary, and work with a professional recording engineer. Allow yourself at least two sessions to record your audition.
After your audition, following up with a thank-you note or email to your prospective teacher is a great way to build a positive relationship.
What preparation tips do you have for prospective flute majors?
- Take private lessons all year. Get used to practicing!
- Take piano lessons in high school.
- Take the music theory courses offered at your high school.
- Participate in your school band and orchestra programs.
- There are community programs, such as Youth Symphonies, Solo and Ensemble contests and studio recitals you can participate in.
- Research prospective schools during your Sophomore and Junior years.
- Attend Summer Programs and trial lessons during your Sophomore and Junior years.
- During the summer going into your Junior year, choose schools and plan your audition repertoire
- Start learning your audition repertoire during the spring of your Junior year.
- Remember, you’ll have auditions early your Senior year and recordings to make, so early is better.
- During the fall of your Senior year, make audition tapes and perform your repertoire with your pianist.
Highly sought after as a performer and teacher, flutist, Sydney Carlson joined the faculty of Portland State University in 2008. Currently a member of the Portland Opera Orchestra, she has appeared with the Oregon Symphony, Portland Ballet Orchestra and Portland Chamber Orchestra. She is a former member of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. While in Houston she performed frequently with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet Orchestra, and contemporary ensemble, Musiqa.
Dr. Carlson was previously on the faculty at the University of Houston and Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. Her students have been accepted for further studies at Yale, Cal Arts, the Curtis Institute, Rice, Baylor, the Paris Conservatoire at Versailles and the Boston Conservatory.
She has served on the faculties, of the Texas Music Festival and the American Festival of the Arts as a chamber music coach, flute teacher and recitalist.International appearances include concerts in Mexico in the cities of, Xalapa, Veracruz; Mexico City and Merida She was invited to join the American Sinfonietta as principal flute on a tour of Europe and at the Bellingham Festival in WA. In 2009 she made her recital debut in Guangzhou China.
Sydney holds degrees form the Eastman School of Music, East Carolina University and the University of Houston. She was privileged to study with Byron Hester, Bonita Boyd, and David Shostac. Additionally she has performed in the masterclasses of Julius Baker, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Robert Aitken, Samuel Baron and James Walker. She has recorded on the Mark, Delos, Albany, Guild, CIEM, and Urtext Digital labels.