The following advice is presented to help you succeed – not just with this audition, but any audition you ever take during your playing career.
- Get an early start. If you wait until the last minute to put together your audition, it will not go well. Prepare a little each day, maybe breaking it up into reasonable chunks: Today I will work on my chromatic scale. Tomorrow, I will work on the first excerpt. Etc.
- The greatest source of anxiety during an audition is failure to adequately prepare the materials. If you are well-prepared, you will be much less nervous! Preparation includes knowing the correct tempos, styles, articulations, etc., in addition to knowing the correct notes and rhythms. Basically…prepare your excerpts until you cannot play them wrong…
- You are living in the Age of Information…don't know what a musical term means? There's Google. Don't know how one of the excerpts goes? There's YouTube. Don't know if you're in tune or if you've got the correct tempo? There is an app for that. Don't know your scales? There are tons of online resources to help you learn them. Use these resources to ensure that you are prepared for your audition. Give yourself the best chance for a positive experience.
- Dress somewhat professionally for the audition. How you look has an impact on how people listening to you perceive you. Dress sloppily, and listeners are more apt to hear your mistakes. It will also make you feel subconsciously less confident. If you are dress in a professional manner, you will feel more professional…and if you feel professional, you are more likely to have a great audition. You do not have to wear a suit or a fancy dress...but flip flops and a ragged t-shirt are probably a (very) bad idea.
- Do not "aim" your instrument at the judges, especially if you are a directional instrument like the trumpet or trombone. Aim slightly to the side of the listeners.
- Do not start a passage over, and certainly do not ask "Can I start over?" If you make a mistake, recover from it, and keep going. Quite often, audition judges are listening for your ability to recover from mistakes, as much as anything else you might have prepared.
- Perform the correct tempos! Use a metronome in your preparations to help you with this, and do not slow down just because a passage is tricky, or speed up because a passage is easy. Maintain a steady tempo throughout, unless the music calls for something different.
- Work on your scales and arpeggios. ALL of them, including the chromatic scale. While most auditions will not ask for minor scales, it is wise to know all of them as well. Know all your major scales (and the chromatic scale) by heart.
- Think about style and interpretation...don’t just come in and play a vanilla rendition of the music, devoid of dynamics, articulations, or feeling. Let your musicianship shine. If you are asked to prepare your own interpretation of an excerpt, then prepare some kind of interpretation. Anything. It can be as simple and tasteful as this:
- In general, you should always execute rests at their given duration, without altering the tempo. However, if there is a section of the music with a long rest, you may ask how the judges wish for you to proceed before you begin the music.
- Pay special attention to note durations...especially sustained notes. If you have a dotted half note at the end of a phrase, the judges expect to hear 3 beats, not 2, not 2.5, not 3.25, etc.
- Take the time to imagine the mood, style, and character of the excerpts you are playing before you begin. Pausing to gather your thoughts will also allow you to mindfully breathe, which may help lower your anxiety and put you in a relaxed state.
- Relax. It isn't life or death. You may take several auditions throughout the course of your career, and each one is an opportunity to learn what you can do better. We expect that many, if not most of you, will be nervous/anxious...and this is ok. Seriously.
- At an audition like this, we are basically looking for students who are good players with potential to grow as musicians…we are not looking for perfection. Deficiencies and mistakes can be overlooked if there is talent, determination to succeed, and a willingness to work hard.
- Never forget the old saying: Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.
Best of luck to you as you prepare your audition materials!