End of Semester Juries: Some Thoughts and Observations

My apologies for being behind in blog posts for last week: in addition to the normal end of semester crunch (grading, juries, etc.), we’ve also been without internet at our new residence. Hopefully the issue will be resolved soon, but for now I will be grabbing some time to blog here and there in the office. I’m headed to Denton this week for the 44th International Horn Symposium, and although I won’t be staying for the entire event I will try to post some updates while there. Today’s post was meant for last Friday, but having a few more days to ruminate on the topic of juries was actually quite nice. If you aren’t familiar with music juries, here is a short article describing them. Procedures and requirements for juries vary widely depending on the school, but here are some observations and thoughts based on my experiences as both a student and teacher.

  • Juries are a performance. Dress and conduct yourself accordingly. If you have any questions about the correct protocol at your school, ask your major professor. There might be numerous rumors and/or anecdotal information floating around about what you may or may not need to prepare for in your jury, but these are only partially reliable at best.
  • Unless a random element of the jury is agreed upon in advance (sight-reading, for example), you should be aware of all the requirements for the jury several days (if not weeks) before the actual exam. I have seen juries where the student apparently didn’t think or realize that a particular solo/etude/excerpt/scale/transposition/clef would be asked, and then disaster ensued. The sad thing about this situation is that it is completely avoidable. Plan ahead, and always ask if you are unsure about repertoire requirements or anything else.
  • It is your job to sort out your schedule. Final exam week is hectic for everyone, and there are only so many hours in the day to schedule juries. As a result, there may be several time slots which conflict with your exam schedule: but you should never skip (or be late to) a final exam in order to play a jury. By being proactive and finding out jury and final exam schedules in advance, you can avoid any unpleasantness with your applied teacher and other instructors when exam time comes.
  • The time to start thinking about and preparing for your jury is at or near the beginning of the semester, not the week (or even two weeks) before exams. Your life will be stressful and busy enough at the end of the semester, and putting in the time on the front end will make your life much easier during exam week. Yes, given enough talent and endurance, a good brass jury can probably be prepared in a limited amount of practice time, but as a teacher and performer I wouldn’t recommend this method unless absolutely unavoidable.

Do you have any suggestions or thoughts on juries?  What about some favorite stories from your jury experiences?  Feel free to comment. [N.B. Curious about the image included at the beginning of this post?  More info here.]

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