Tips from two experts to help you realize your dream
Being a collegiate twirler can be one of the most exciting, rewarding and memorable parts of any twirler’s performing career. But finding the perfect college or university, not to mention the perfect twirling position, can be overwhelming. To help prospective college twirlers (and their parents and coaches) through the sometimes long and nerve-wracking application / admission / audition / selection process, USTA talked with two college twirling experts: Jenny Hannah, Coach of the UTC Majorettes of the Marching Mocs at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Kyle Keiser, Twirler and Auxiliary Instructor for the Bronco Marching Band at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
USTA: What advice do you have to help twirlers select the right college or university and twirling program to apply to?
Keiser: Finding the right college isn’t always about finding the right college twirling program. More importantly, it’s about finding the most well-rounded fit for you, in every way. Does the school have the programs and degrees you are looking for? Is it an area of the country or size school you can thrive in? Knowing the college/university is the right fit, is more important than anything else. Then, finding the right combination of music, program, athletics and the band organization is the icing on the cake. Be very familiar with the culture of the college and the band. Nothing can positively or negatively affect your experience more than the culture of the community you choose to be a part of.
Hannah: My advice in selecting which college/college twirling programs to apply to is to first evaluate whether the school has the academic program that you would like to major in. Making a list of schools that offer your degree program is a good idea. In looking for a twirling program, decide whether you are interested in trying for a feature position or twirling on a line. Going to see a performance by the band you are interested in is a good way to get an idea of the individual style of a twirling program. Many band programs have Band Day/Twirler For a Day events during football season where high school twirlers can enjoy performing with the twirlers at a university and also learn more about the twirling and band program in the process.
USTA: What should twirlers focus on when preparing a twirling resume?
Hannah: First of all, pay close attention to the directions of the school you are applying for. Secondly, keep your resume concise and accurate. Pick out two to three accomplishments, as well as events and styles you are experienced in. Represent all competitive accomplishments accurately (i.e. division, age, category, organization).
Keiser: First and foremost, be honest. The first thing I do when I have someone seeking information or applying is google them. And, I’m sure I’m not the only one. In the very close environment of the twirling world, embellishing your resume or overstating your accomplishments is easily discovered. Have a resume that not only lists your competitive accomplishments, but also lists the type of training you have had (group, individual and coaches you have worked with). What show experience do you have? What have you done with twirling on and off the field? What are your goals for a collegiate twirling position?
USTA: What tips do you have for preparing an audition video, if needed?
Keiser: Preparing a quality video is key. I prefer videos to have an introduction by the twirler him/herself. State who you are, what type of position you are seeking and a little something about yourself. Be sure it’s professional quality and can be easily submitted digitally. If you create it on a YouTube channel, it is easily accessible and can be set for private viewing. The video should show samples of your competitive twirling in different events, as well as the show opportunities you have had. Samples of your work on the football field and indoor performances are valuable. How have you been incorporated in the shows? Do you have experience in multiple baton and fire baton? Do you travel the field well and know how to stay in step? Do you come from a high step band or a corps style band and if you are applying to a type program different from the one you have experience with, show your versatility and ability to adapt to different performance genres.
Hannah: Be sure to follow the directions of the school you are applying for and include all of the elements they ask for in your video. Having a solid background in your video will help it be easier to watch. If you are making a video of clips of previous performances, pick out your best moments and keep it concise.
USTA: What’s most important when submitting a college twirling application?
Hannah: Follow the directions of the specific college and position you are applying for. Each school is often a little bit different.
Keiser: Each school is different. First and foremost, you must be accepted to our University before I can offer you an audition. The second step in our process is the video submission. We have no formal twirling application. If your video is acceptable, you are contacted for an on-site audition and interview. Along with quality twirling, I will only select quality “people.” As an ambassador for the University, you are highly visible and highly recognizable. Therefore, your words and actions matter. Every day, in every situation. You must be a highly motivated student and great with time management skills. Band season can be grueling. Can you handle the physical and emotional demands of the long days and pressure performances? Dropping is not an option. Having a bad attitude is non-negotiable. You not only have to represent the band but you have to set the standard for excellence that is expected throughout the organization.
USTA: What do you recommend as far as preparing for a college twirling audition? What music should I use? What should I wear?
Keiser: You should use high energy, expressive music that is typical of the electric environment of college game day. You’re not in high school anymore! Showcase your assets with a piece of music that excites you and displays your gifts.
As far as attire, ask questions. Do you need to be in costume? If not, make the effort to be in spirit gear and colors of the school you are auditioning for. Form-fitting, hair in the way it is worn for that school and the footwear you will be expected to wear at that University. Do your research! Be spirited, classy, well-groomed and fun!
Hannah: I would do the following: choose music that is upbeat (think of the venue where you are auditioning to perform); make sure that the music/lyrics are appropriate; pick music that will highlight your own twirling and dance strengths; pay attention to the time limits requested by the school.
Attire for tryouts varies from school to school. Some schools have twirlers perform in costume. If this is the case, select a style of costume that is most flattering on you. Other schools have certain attire, example black leotard and leggings. Be sure to follow the directions given by the audition process. Your ability to follow these directions is a good indicator of what kind of teammate you will potentially be in the twirling program.
USTA: Finally, what are the key qualities you are looking for in a twirler for your program?
Hannah: I look for an athlete with a positive attitude, a willingness to continue to learn and improve and a person who will work well with others. I also look for the twirling requirements we have established for the audition process, as well as, any additional skills the twirler may have.
Keiser: Along with being an outstanding, dependable performer, the ideal twirler for our program adapts easily to the style of the shows. He or she is a twirler who is not solely focused on how he/she is showcased, but understands the inner-connections of a “band family.” A twirler might be out front, but that twirler puts the “team” first and puts the greater good of the University and the organization first. He/she is a team player who can unload a truck just as easily as the equipment staff and offers to step up when needed. He or she understands the role within the greater University community as well as the importance of being a quality ambassador for our sport in the athletic world. The ability to travel down the field in step, execute flawless tricks and contact material, as well as being gymnastic- and dance-trained to perform the crowd-pleasing moves of his/her predecessors. The legacy of all that has come before the present day band students sets the precedent for all that is possible and all that comes after them. That in itself sets the bar high. Multiple baton and extra show effects help the production value of any halftime performance.
He or she must be pleasant and a great team player who has an outstanding work ethic. When the rest of the band is drilling things, rehearsing music and working diligently, are you self-motivated enough to know what you need to do? If you enter a program without an instructor, can you handle getting the gear you need, the costumes required and the choreography done? Are you capable of performing a large repertoire of skills without repeating the same material over and over? If you have an instructor, can you adapt to someone new and to a new group of friends? Can you function independently of your parent?
Will you handle the changes in your life and being away from home as the adventure it can be? Will you know your new best friend might be around the next new corner? Will you carry yourself with pride and strive for excellence in every aspect? If so, these types of people are the ones I want on my team. I want the person who doesn’t just strive to inspire others every day, but instead, lives and performs in a way that makes all of us better by knowing them.
Attention prospective college twirlers: Want to join the largest band in the MAC?! Western Michigan University may decide you are the next “gold” in Brown & Gold! Details posted soon on our website. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Audition videos due Feb. 1.
SAVE THE DATE!! 2019 UTC Majorette Tryouts will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019. More details coming soon!