As a visual or performing arts student, make summer work for you.
Whether you’re an actor, dancer, musician, or visual artist, the summer break is a great time to focus on your craft and to pave the road for a fun and rewarding future in the arts. You don’t have to give up your summer vacation, but while there’s a reprieve from the heavy school workload, you can take a few simple steps to help set yourself up for success.
1. Find a summer arts program (before it fills up) – For every discipline in the arts, there is a summer arts program. Each ranges in type and style, and they can run anywhere from a week or two to more than a month in length. However, many students have signed up months ago, and the better programs are filling fast so move quickly if you’re interested. See a detailed list of some great summer arts programs that ArtsBridge students in theater, music, dance, and visual arts have personally attended and endorsed.
2. Prepare your audition – While requirements for auditions can vary from one theater college to another, you will typically need to supply each program with a resume of your theater experience, a recent photo, and music for the accompanist if appropriate. For most situations, you should prepare two contrasting monologues. Musical theater auditions generally require one up-tempo musical selection and one ballad, as well as a monologue from a play or musical of your choice. In total, your college audition pieces shouldn’t go beyond 5 minutes. Here are a few tried and true keys to audition success:
3. Perfect your portfolio – Similar to an audition for performing artists, your portfolio should represent you and your work in the best light. The pieces you select should illustrate diversity in technique and variety in subject matter. You may display work in any medium (oils, watercolors, pastels, photography, etc.), and you can incorporate classroom assignments, independent projects, and sketchbook material. Specialized art colleges look for an average of ten art pieces, but only be sure to include only your finest work. As you narrow your list of potential colleges, get to know the requirements for each, so you can begin to plan for specific portfolio additions and adjustments.
4. Match your college criteria – Too many students trade in personal fit in pursuit of school reputation. Visual and performing arts students, in particular, should search for a college that fits their personality, interests and goals. It’s easy to be impressed by the prestige of a top professional school or arts department and overlook whether the program is right for you. Naturally, you should speak with your art, music, drama, or dance teachers about the reputation of the colleges you are considering. Ask the colleges about career opportunities for graduates and what sort of success alumni have had in your area of the arts. Create an organized list of schools with a checklist of components and notes that will ultimately help you determine the best fit for your needs.
5. Take a campus road trip – You can’t replace the experience of visiting colleges, walking the campus, and asking questions about academics, student life, and your specific areas of interest. As an arts student, you will likely have more to consider than students in other majors. The location of your college may be higher on your list of key factors. Access to professional venues such as museums, galleries, theaters, and concerts may be a consideration. The opportunity to perform, exhibit, and have active internships may also be important elements in your arts education. Keep in mind that if you want to get an accurate sense of student life on campus, you’ll need to return during the school year. Nonetheless, summer college road trips can be of great value at a more relaxed pace.