The Guarneri Hall website will feature a growing compendium of articles related to topics such as performance, technique, and music education. Our first article is an outline developed by Stefan Hersh to help students do their best in an audition.
Philosophy of Auditions
- Do this to win, not to learn to play auditions.
- Immerse yourself in preparation; from the moment you know the list until the audition, this is your life!
- Prepare to play beautifully (and well-informed musically) as opposed to perfectly.
- Learn whole pieces and scores: know where your part fits in the score.
- Quality of sounds, type of articulation, bow strokes, reed choices, breathing, fingering choices, phrasing, etc. should reflect ensemble sensitivity at all times.
- Use conventional bowings, phrasing, and breath choices and make them sound wonderful; don’t reinvent the wheel.
- On Day One, make the list into a book.
- Learn the whole list, not excerpt by excerpt. Neglect nothing!
- Listen to recordings, study the score…know the music, not just the notes.
- As early as possible in the process begin testing yourself with run-throughs. Measure the work toward the audition day by what happens in the run-throughs.
- As early and often as possible in the process, play run-throughs for others.
- Record yourself as often as possible. Use a camcorder to observe and correct.
- Use a metronome often and for everything.
The Audition Itself
- Schedule enough travel time so you don’t find yourself playing hurry-up all day.
- Travel as comfortably as you can afford to.
- Watch your body chemistry:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink enough water
- Eat sensibly (keep snacks on hand)
- Avoid sugar, excess caffeine, chocolate, etc.
- Consider beta blockers
- Warming up
- Slow and steady! Don’t wear yourself out…if you are to prevail it will be a long day!
- Ignore the practicing of the other applicant
- When you play:
- Leave “space” around each excerpt; do not hurry!
- Play exactly what is indicated, no more, no less.
- Make each excerpt a beautiful gem that has been seamlessly extracted from the score.
- Do not make extraneous noise of any kind.
Making the Cut
- Once out from behind the screen, acknowledge the committee
- Do not sign a contract at the audition!
The Mental Game
- Set the tone in the practice room for success at the audition. This includes being prepared for anything, including nerves and unexpected changes to the plan!
- Maintain a psychological “bubble” at the audition. Avoid long heart-to-heart discussions with old friends. Be courteous to friends and colleagues but maintain your personal distance.
- Fully utilize the process! At best, an audition is an opportunity to improve one’s playing. A self-improvement attitude makes the audition a victory regardless of the outcome.