Home / Music Careers

How To Prepare And Stay Organized When Applying To Multiple Violin Competitions

A single violin competition can be a challenge. Preparing and applying for multiple competitions can feel overwhelming. But there is method to your madness in casting a wide net to find violin competition success. So, apply some method to managing all the information and tasks needed to apply and move forward.

In case you’re still looking for some competitions to add to your list, you can find some options here.  

Managing all the details 

No two competitions are the same. Each one has its particular minutiae from eligibility requirements, to logistical details, and on to application timelines.  Time to break out the Excel – or whatever table-based document works for you. If you want to buy some poster board and handwrite and decorate your own competition mega-list checklist – do it. 

You’ll be creating two tables: One details everything that’s required for each application package; the second one has everything else. We’ll start there, with your Big Picture Table: 

  • Competition name
  • Link to website
  • Links to page with application rules and competition rules
  • Key contact information, like where to submit application, who you can contact with questions, etc
  • Application deadline date
  • Competition dates – stay on top of any of the competitions that have close or conflicting dates
  • Competition location – this is also a logistical issue. Keep in mind travel time to get there without feeling rushed or risking a travel snafu that would keep you from arriving in good time. Also consider any special issues the location might present. Is it high altitude? Cold weather? Noting the issue here will make sure you plan accordingly if you pass through the application phase.
  • Costs – not including the application fee, which you’ll list separately, but the estimated costs to attend the competition.
  • Application fee – don’t let a meticulous application get rejected because you got the fee amount wrong!
  • Work(s) to be performed 

We’ve not included anything about eligibility requirements here because you should already have reviewed them and selected only those competitions whose eligibility requirements you meet. If you haven’t verified you’re eligible for a given competition, do that before wasting energy and time adding to your list of things to handle. You’ve got enough going on. 

Alright, now we’ll detail your Application Packet Requirements. List each competition name along the top of your table and list each of these items down the left side. This is your matrix. Each column + row meeting point (the cell) should show what’s required and have some way to check that this item is ready to go in the app packet. 

  • Application submission deadline – we know it’s in the other table also, but it’s important. Just add it here too. Make it the first row under each competition name.
  • Accepted proof of eligibility – does it require a copy of your birth certificate? Will your driver’s license do? Are their residency requirements? Whatever paperwork is needed to prove eligibility (the competition’s application requirements page will tell you exactly what they’ll accept), make sure you’ve got it.
  • List every other piece of paper required.
  • Detail the performance video requirements
    • What’s the maximum length allowed
    • How many pieces must be submitted
    • What are the piece selection criteria? Let’s say you need to select two works. One each from two separate lists they’ve provided, but no more than two movements from each, and you must expect to perform the complete composition of one of them in the competition if you make it.
    • Exact works to be performed on the audition tape. Add some notation indicating which one will be your competition selection.
    • Some competitions will specifically forbid certain works or composers. Note that here if that’s the case.
    • Does it require your application performance be solo or with some accompaniment? Is a piano enough, or with an orchestra?
    • Does your performance need to be from memory?
    • What are the technical requirements? Does it require mp4 file format? Any aspect or resolution requirements? Not every competition may specify this level of detail…but some do, and you need to know who does. 

Want a refresher on preparing an audition video? Here you go. 

Finding opportunities to consolidate 

The Application Packet Requirements table does more for you than make sure each application is complete and compliant with that competition’s requirements. Preparing the performance sections will highlight opportunities where you can minimize the list of works you need to prepare and record. 

List your top three go-to works. These are the works you love, you’ve mastered, and if any of them meet a competition’s requirements – that’s your choice. You can have a second list of three to four works that are your second-tier choices. 

Any competition application you can complete off your favorites list, great. For the rest of them:  Get their selection criteria in front of you all at once, so you can find your chances to repurpose a work. 

Last – create a video playlist of inspiring competition performances to keep you motivated and focused. 

Good luck!

finding the right violin