Auditions for select ensembles at Fort Couch are a three-part process. Students will first be lead through a series of vocal warm-ups for placement in a vocal section suitable for their voice type. Once students are placed in the section that best suits their voice, they are taught a selection from a vocal piece intended for future performance by the group. During the instruction portion of the audition, students are evaluated on how well they perform notated rhythms, what their sight-reading ability is, and how they follow direction from the director. This portion of the audition is used to gage how quickly the final group will work when rehearsals start, and also provides the director with a general idea of where to begin instruction to best meet the student’s needs.
When each section has learned the vocal selection, students will be selected at random and asked to sing as a group. Several different voice combinations will be tested at this time in order to create the final group. The goal is to find a balanced group with the best blend of voices possible. Since each voice is unique, a very different sound is created each time a new voice is added or subtracted from the ensemble. It is important to know that ensembles do not have a set number of students. The size for each group will change from year to year based on the fact that Fort Couch is a two-year program, and the rate at which voices change and begin to mature at this age level.
If 60 students audition and it takes all 60 to get a balanced sound, then that is the number of students accepted into the group. If however, that same group of 60 students audition and a combination of 30 from that group provides the best-balanced sound, those are the students that are placed in the group. Not being selected for one of the three auditioned ensembles does not mean that the student is not a great singer or musician! The way an individuals voice blends with others is not something that is easily changed. A voice that does not blend with the ensemble this year may be just what is needed to complete the same group the following year.