A student of mine asked this question last weekend and thought I’d touch upon this subject. It is a good one.
The short answer is; Yes, Absolutely, Do It!
Why? Because this lesson will tell you a lot about the school, the professors and what is to be expected from you and what you can expect from them. These are crucial bits of information that will enable you to be much more confident before you attend the school. Or, much more confident in your decision not to attend a particular school.
There are a few routes you can go as far as taking a lesson with a professor before you attend a college. You can take a face to face lesson or if you are 1,000 miles away, you can do an online lesson. I have given and taken online lessons and they do work well for most people so you more than likely will get a lot out of your time with the professor. You can also record the lesson and watch it later to review how you played. In doing this, you can notice if you sounded better after suggestions from the professor or did the professor. Did they explain things well or were they kind in criticism and were they able to build you up as a musician while correcting mistakes. Were their comments valid? Also, what kind of a teacher do you need? Do you need someone who is more musical minded or someone who is more technical minded and helps you understand your instrument even more. Or perhaps a mixture of both. Maybe one professor is more about winning orchestra auditions or recitals. And another is more about teaching or being a soloist or even a freelancer. There are many, many options out there so look around and choose a good fit for your career choice. If you do not have an idea of what type of musician you would like to be, then these pre college lessons might be an even better idea. Taking a lesson from someone else will give you different ideas.
Write down any questions you have for the lesson. You will be surprised how fast time goes by during that hour and if you have a list of questions, you can get your answers sooner rather than sending them in an email afterwards. I have gone through a lesson before, had questions in my mind and then completely forgot to ask them because of all the playing I was doing and all of the information I was being given. If you write questions down, they will not get lost in the moment.
When is a good time to do this? I would say a safe bet would be the summer after your junior year or senior year in high school. If you are thinking about attending a very selective school, your audition will more than likely be in the Fall for a pre screening video audition. The regular auditions will be more likely in January or February.
Taking a lesson before you attend your school is something I would highly recommend doing. And do not worry about your current music instructor. You are heading out into the big world and they should support you 100%. That is our job as teachers. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I will answer them. I am here to support you on your journey as a college student. I give workshops almost every month that deal with finding the right college and how to begin looking for a great fit for your life. Good Luck!