Orchestral auditions can be daunting. Faithfully adhering to a short planning list can greatly help one’s chances for success:
Philosophy of Auditions
- Audition to win, not to learn to play auditions.
- Immerse yourself in preparation; the list is your life from the moment you know what is on the list until the audition is over!
- 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. Work the whole list every day. 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 video 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 likely be a long day!
- Ignore the practicing of the other applicants
- When you play:
- Do not make extraneous noise of any kind.
- Play exactly what is indicated, no more, no less.
- Make each excerpt a beautiful gem that has been seamlessly extracted from the score.
- Leave “space” around each excerpt; do not hurry!
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 preparation for the unexpected, including nerves and last-minute 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.