Kathy's Audition Tips

Many events and organizations require auditions for would-be attenders. Our local orchestras, All-State and All-New Englands require auditions as do many summer camps…and of course music colleges and advanced programs for our high school seniors. Some teachers ask for auditions to admit students into their studios.

Auditions can be scary! But there are a lot of things you can do to prepare yourself for the best experience. You can learn a lot about yourself and your playing by performing an audition. It can and should be a good experience.

Remember: not all auditions are “screeners”. There is no failing these auditions: your seat in an orchestra, for example, might be allocated according to the audition (not whether you get a seat) and it is an opportunity for the Music Director to get a sense of your capacities as he makes musical decisions about repertoire and seating. You want to get an appropriate seat: being placed beyond your capacities, or below, can be a bummer.

Here are some tips that Kathy put together based on her personal experiences and her conversations with both participants and judges.

Tip #1

Try and determine what the judges are looking for. I was talking to someone who judged competitions. As the level of playing gets higher, it comes down to the details. Go for impeccable rhythm and intonation. If you sacrifice rhythm for musicality, chances are you'll lose points.

Tip #2

Memorize your piece. It doesn't mean you can't bring your music to the audition, but it does ensure that you really know all those tricky passages. One friend went so far as to learn her piece backwards and forwards! That is a bit overkill, but memorization frees the brain and lessens the stress.

Tip #3

Record yourself and listen critically. Did you really hold that half note for two beats? Were those double stops in tune? Was the forte significantly louder than the mezzo forte? Look at your music as you listen and circle the parts you want to go back and practice.Try and determine what the judges are looking for. I was talking to someone who judged competitions. As the level of playing gets higher, it comes down to the details. Go for impeccable rhythm and intonation. If you sacrifice rhythm for musicality, chances are you'll lose points.

Tip #4

Practice performing the piece. Play your piece in front of family and friends. Look for opportunities to play for people in a school setting, at church, anywhere there will be people you don't know or where you are less comfortable. Remember to practice walking out and announcing your piece as well.

Tip #5

Look for opportunities to perform outside of auditions. The more you perform solos, the less the auditions become about performance skills as opposed to the skills you need to play your piece.

Tip #6

Visualize the space and conditions you will audition in. Will there be one judge or two? Will they be at a table across the room, in an auditorium, or standing near you? Do you know their name(s)? If they're from a summer program, what is their role? Do they play your instrument?

Tip #7

Practice playing your piece the time of the audition. If you have a late morning audition and usually practice in the evening, try practicing in the morning on the weekends.

Tip #8

(the hardest part) RELAX! Remember: there is not a performer on the planet that has not blown an audition at some point in his or her career. Just get a good night’s sleep, prepare as best you can and let the rest take care of itself. If you blow it, there will be other opportunities!