Audition & Competition Tips
Whether you are preparing for a PYSO/school/college audition, Regionals, All-State, Young Musicians Competition, or for any competition, below are some guidelines you may want to consider incorporating into your preparation process.
BEFORE THE AUDITION
-Make sure your audition piece is well prepared.
-For a piece or excerpt, listen to several different recordings to get a feel for the tempo, phrasing, etc.
-Record yourself practicing (you can use your smartphone) and take notes listening to the playback.
-If you get tend to get nervous, perform several times in front of your family. Play for your friends at school.
-If the audition requires you to play scales, ask your listeners to choose random scales for you to demonstrate.
-If you do not have someone listening, write the names of scales on small slips of paper and then draw them out of a hat.
-Scales for string players, practice finding the first note of the scale WITHOUT playing it.
-Review the Audition guidelines.
-Does the audition require you to sight read? Have you practiced your sight reading?
-Do you need to bring copies of your music to the audition? How many?
-Do you have to number your measures?
-Avoid making your copies at home with your family printer. Often times the ink becomes low and it becomes difficult to read for the jury.
-Go to FedEx Office, Office Max, or ask your parent or school teacher to get it copied at office copy machines.
BEFORE THE AUDITION: CLOTHES
-What are you going to wear at the audition?
-The key is to always look professional.
-Avoid t-shirts, shorts, and beach sandals.
-Female attire: no bare shoulders; dresses/skirts should be a conservative length; cellists should consider the fullness of your skirt to allow for positioning for the cello.
-Avoid all-black outfits: the majority will come to the audition wearing all black and you want to be remembered. Add a little color.
-Practice at home in your audition clothes.
-Practice in the dress shoes you plan to audition in. The last thing you want to think about on the day of your audition is how uncomfortable your feet are.
AUDITION: WHAT TO BRING
-Rockstop for cellists
-Music (copies also if required)
-Water. Nerves will make you dehydrated.
-A light snack. ie: Banana – it helps with nerves.
-Wind/Brass players should bring a toothbrush if you plan to eat before you play.
-A small hand towel is useful if your hands sweat.
-Bring something that helps you pass the time. Oftentimes in auditions, you will have to wait and you may not have access to a practice room. A book that helps you stay calm and occupied can be very useful.
THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR AUDITION
-Double check your audition time.
-If the audition location is unfamiliar to you, print out the directions.
-Know how much time it will take you to get to the audition location.
-If the audition is on a campus, having access to the campus map will help you locate the audition building faster.
-Make sure you have the contact person’s phone number, in case you get lost or there is a traffic jam.
-Pack the night before.
-If you are coming to the audition after school, make sure you have all your change of clothes. Don’t forget your shoes and socks.
-You want to have enough time to warm up.
-Your instrument needs to adjust to the temperature of the audition building. This will help with intonation.
AUDITION DAY: WARM UP
-You might be sharing a warm up room with other people.
-You may hear others playing the same audition music.
-You may hear others playing faster or slower than you.
-You may hear others playing more difficult pieces or easier pieces than you.
-You may hear others playing very fast scales.
-DON’T LISTEN TO THEM and DON’T LET IT AFFECT YOU.
-Do your usual warm up to see how your instrument sounds in that building.
-Go through your scales slowly and carefully.
-Try to find a location in the warm up room where you can find peace and stay calm.
-Do not compare yourself with others.
-When you walk into the room, please greet the judge(s).
-When the judge asks you “How are you?”, answer calmly with a smile. This is NOT an opportunity for you to explain how nervous you are and how you had no time to prepare the excerpts because you had many tests at school. Please DO NOT tell the judges your life story.
-If you prefer standing when you play, stand.
-If you prefer sitting when you play, use a chair.
-If you are a wind player, play a few notes (LESS THAN 5 SECONDS) to make sure your instrument is functioning.
-Face the judge to indicate that you are ready and they will tell you what to do.
-Take a deep breath before playing what is requested.
-Take a few seconds to think about what you are about to play, especially with scales. Review at least the first three notes in your head to help you remember major or minor.
-If you know you get nervous, the hand towel will come in handy to wipe off sweat from your forehead and fingers.
-After you play your audition, remember to thank the judges.
THE AUDITION: DO NOT…..
-DO NOT bring a cheat sheet for your scales. You must know your scales from memory before coming to the audition.
-DO NOT tell the judges how nervous you are.
-DO NOT tell the judges how tired you are and that you had many tests at school. You won’t get extra points for being tired.
-DO NOT walk away from the audition without saying “thank you.” It is rude.
-DO NOT play more than 5 seconds in the audition room when you test your instrument (wind/brass players). This is NOT the time to go through your excerpts or check your scales.
-DO NOT stop. Once you start your scale and audition piece, do not stop.
-DO NOT start over. If you get stuck in the middle of a scale or piece, KEEP PLAYING. Music must keep moving forward.
“MY AUDITION WAS AWESOME.”
-GREAT!! Be happy and go celebrate.
“UGH, MY AUDITION WAS HORRIBLE.”
-Relax. It is not the end of the world.
-Every audition is a life experience. You learn so much about yourself and you learn about your preparation.
-Remember what happened in the audition and fix those sections you were not happy about tomorrow.
-No matter how upset you are, you cannot change history.
-Now you know how you play under pressure.
-Next time, try to create opportunities to play in front of many people during your preparation so you feel more comfortable with your repertoire at your audition.
-You are not the only one. There are many musicians today who walked out of the audition feeling slightly upset with the way they played. It happens to every musician. Just accept that and try to find peace.
-Remember, it already happened and you can’t change the past.
-Think about how your audition went.
-What could you have done better?
-What went really well?
-Take notes in your music and learn from your audition experience.
-You are already a better musician because you took this audition.
-Stay passionate about your instrument and keep playing!