Sunday, March 14, 2010

How To Use Google Street View for Pre-Audition Recon

I'm currently working with a lot of musicians who are doing auditions in the next few months, often in cities where they've never been before. Part of the trepidation of auditioning for a school of music (or interviewing at one for those in the job market) lies in the unknown factors of effectively navigating to the school's front door, early if possible and with a minimum of surprises.

Fortunately, there are plenty of free tools that can help you not only find where you're going and how to get there, but put you virtually at the location of where you're going. One of those tools is the Street View layer of Google Maps. What follows is a tutorial on how to find your way around in Street View.

1. Go to Google Maps and type the address of your destination in the search box. For the purposes of this article, type in "26 Gibbs Street Rochester NY", which will yield the location of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. After clicking on the Search Maps button, you should see either a map or satellite image, with your destination highlighted. At any point in your search, you can click Get Directions to get both a map and road-by-road directions from your start point to the final destination.

2. On the left-hand side of the page, click on the "more" link on the right. Below you can see the link circled from the search results:

3. After clicking on the "more" link, click on "Street View", which will call up the Street View layer on Google Maps. You can now rotate the camera 360 degrees in each location, as well as double-click the circles on the road to navigate to different locations up and down the street. The square on the upper right-hand side of the picture enables a fullscreen view, which greatly enhances the awesomeness of Street View.

The picture at the top of this article shows the front entrance of the Eastman School of Music. If you're auditioning at Eastman and you've never been there, you will learn from Street View that Gibbs Street is one-way northbound, which means that an East Avenue approach is easier than one from Main Street if you're looking to drive to the front door. You can also tell from the picture that there is at least some metered parking on the street, although from looking at the map view it might be easier to find parking just north of Main Street or in the parkade on Scio.

Wandering around your destination on Street View (double-clicking on the circles, remember), you can also tell that the Eastman campus is quite compact, and with coffee just down the street at Java's Cafe. If you've done the Street View walk before you actually go to your location, you'll remember the locale of where you're going in three dimensions instead of two, in addition to feeling a weird sense of déjà vu when you actually get there.

If you want to go a step farther, you can even visualize yourself confident and in control on audition day when Street View surfing, so that when you get there for real, you can recall the feeling and focus more effectively. I do this all the time when performing and adjudicating in new places.

This recon method is effective not only for auditions, but for performances, exams, job interviews, and recording sessions as well. Don't forget to either print out the driving directions or save them for later viewing, so that when you're on the road, you'll have the directions at your fingertips.

How do you use Google Maps, Street View, or other map programs (such as MapQuest or Bing Maps) in your musical life?


  1. Excellent tools, Chris.

    When I auditioned for grad school, there was no such thing. So I have one addition:

    On audition day, my car broke down 50 mi. from the school. After the initial panic (I'll never get in, they'll never reschedule, etc.), I called. (I thought I'd die!)

    The dean made a time later that same day, gave me the bus sched., told me the gate # and location, and which way to walk when I reached my destination.

    So ~ if something happens along the way, CALL. You have nothing to lose!

  2. I just used Google maps Street View last getting a bow rehaired at a shop I've never seen. There was no picture on the shop's website, so I used Google to get a look at the shop and its parking lot.

  3. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Great post! Some fun Google Street Views here:

  4. Brilliant idea, Chris! I wish a similar resource had been available when I was a student getting lost on my way to audition venues.