Photo By Milena Parobczy

Photo by Milena Parobczy

Music auditions for students and adults can be a stressful experience. From youth orchestra try outs to competition concerts to professional orchestra auditions, and even business job interviews, here are 5 tips to help you put your best self forward.

What is the first tip on playing a successful audition?

1. Continuity

Music auditions can take you all around the world.  With an ever changing environment, a memento may assist in grounding you in the present moment.  By carrying the same pencil, wearing the same audition uniform for each performance or interview, or bringing along something, this will provide a thread of connection and stability bringing a familiar and comfortable frame of mind to the unknown.

What is the second tip on how you can play a good audition?

2. Listening

Instrumental practice is an important starting point, but listening to yourself play and other musicians’ recordings help you to improve too. 

Be your own teacher.  Note the differences that you heard in your playing when compared to the recordings, and apply the feedback to achieve further musical refinement.

What is the third tip on playing well in an audition?

3. Prepare

Auditioning is a skill that needs to be practiced. Try taking every audition that you can, or create mock auditions with friends and family on the panel so you can get more practice performing.

Time spent in the audition room is usually short. Create a pre-audition routine for yourself.  Always assume that you will not have time to practice at the venue, and warm up before going to the audition building. 

In the audition, you’ll have an essential couple of minutes to represent yourself. It’s important to stay calm, mentally prepare, and be ready to play at any time. 

Know your panel audience. Research and read about the current members and conductor of the orchestra. Orchestra members’ music biographies will share a great deal of information about their style of playing and training that the musicians received. Finding recordings of the orchestra will also help you to get an understanding of the overall sound of the orchestra.

There are many different audition procedures around the world too.  European orchestras usually don’t screen, the United States usually screens everything, and the United Kingdom and New Zealand have a mix.  Is the audition that you’re doing screened or totally open to the panel?  Make sure you dress professionally and you are mentally prepared to see a wall to play for or a group of people to perform to. Are you playing your solo with or without piano?  Make sure to communicate to the pianist what tempo you will be utilizing. You’ll just have a split second of non-verbal signals or a quiet whisper to make sure you are both on the same page. Do the excerpts come at the beginning or the end of the audition?  Hopefully you have enough facial endurance to get through an entire day of auditions. You may be playing a lot, and it’s important that you have an understanding for the layout of the audition day. You don’t want to get to the final round and be completely exhausted. The final round is where you need to shine, and a lack of endurance for the last meeting with the panel will probably lose you the job. Can you get to the audition venue early to warm up on the stage and have a look? Explore any opportunity to gain knowledge with open arms. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you could have a look. Even a single note played in the hall quickly will give you a world of information for playing in that specific space.

Be ready to talk to the audition panel.  Do you really want this job?  Are you willing to move for this job?  How early can you start the position or study?  It’s important for you to be clear on these questions so you don’t cause any doubt in the minds of the orchestra panel and your potential colleagues.

All of these things mentioned will help you better prepare for an audition.

What is the fourth tip for you to have a successful audition?

4. Breathe

Performance anxiety is the body’s natural way of responding to stress.  A racing pulse, freezing and sweaty palms, and nausea are all common effects of stage fright.  You are not alone – public speaking is one the most common phobias in the world. 

Remember that this audition is not life or death.  Breathing deeply physically circulates blood throughout the body, improves oxygen flow, and removes CO2 from the blood.  This gentle concentration and focus on breathing allows you to step outside of yourself to observe the mind without being caught up in it.

What is the fifth tip to play a good audition?

5. Authenticity

Share an honest representation of yourself and your playing.  The panel is hoping that you are the one to hire. 

At the venue, and sometimes even in the hotel that you’re staying, there will be numerous styles of playing, personalities, and interpretations throughout the hall ways.  Conserve and reserve.  Keep calm, and set aside space for yourself.  Physically get some fresh air outside, ground yourself by playing your favorite music with headphones, or call a family member or friend. 

Take a positive and lighthearted approach and focus on playing the best that you can.