This first article is from The Musicians Way
"Auditions may be among your most significant career-building performances.
Why not enjoy them?"
–The Musician’s Way, p. 222
Having heard countless auditions over the years, I’ve learned that few young musicians audition well – time and again, gaps in their preparation cause them to underachieve.
This post will help you perform commanding live auditions.
1. Choose music strategically
You might be surprised to know how often musicians underachieve at auditions due to misguided repertoire choices.
To avoid making similar mistakes, always opt for titles that meet any published requirements and are within your capacity. Favor tried-and-true pieces that you love over untested ones and never program music at the edge of your ability.
If published repertoire guidelines seem vague, write for clarification, and get feedback from a mentor before you commit to any titles.
2. Master your material early
Begin learning material far in advance of audition dates, and stick to a practice schedule – maybe use a practice log.
Remember that auditions can trigger worry, which can lead to avoidance and injurious cramming. Pace yourself.
3. Be ready to interview & sight-read
At many auditions, you’ll be asked to explain your artistic vision and goals. Therefore, draft talking points and rehearse what you’ll say.
Be prepared as well to articulate why you want to work with a particular group, be part of a show, or attend a given school. Get ready to ask questions too – see page 294 of The Musician’s Way for a list of questions to pose at a school audition.
If sight-reading will be required, add extra sight-reading practice to your daily routine.
4. Plan meticulously
Minimize stress and prevent foul-ups by tackling logistics step by step: show a draft of an application to a mentor and then submit it well ahead of the deadline, arrange travel & meals, line up accompanists, etc. Use a Preparation Timeline to ensure that you stay on track.
If possible, visit an audition site before your performance and acclimate to the space. For distant appearances, arrive the night before and get ample rest.
5. Arrange mock auditions
To fortify your confidence, besides doing practice performances, arrange mock auditions with teachers or mentors – have them play the roles of judges who ask you to perform your pieces in random order and who might interrupt and interview you as well. (Be sure to record.)
Depending on the type of audition you’re preparing for, your mock judges might also instruct you to sight-read, re-tune, execute scales, or improvise.
6. Build inner strength
Auditioning entails being judged. Musicians who appear before audition panels without a solid sense of self can feel their composure crack.
Take care to approach an audition with a firm belief in yourself and your artistic mission. In that way, you can stay centered and focus on what matters most: making music.
7. Perform soulfully
Although you’re going to be evaluated, what your evaluators most want to hear is your musical personality and potential. For that reason, aim to deliver a polished yet emotion-laden performance.
In the case of college or conservatory auditions, teachers don’t expect perfection; they realize that students pursue education to gain expertise. Teachers do anticipate, though, that students will have basic skills in hand and exhibit heartfelt expression and enthusiasm for learning.
So, even if you’re zinging with adrenaline, play or sing your heart out, and let mistakes dissolve into the past.
8. Display professionalism
The moment you arrive at an audition site, show respect for the process: display a positive attitude and impeccable courtesy. Be well-dressed.
Most of all, demonstrate through your playing or singing that you’re in love with music and serious about your future.
Take pleasure in meeting the challenges of auditioning, knowing that, whatever the outcome, your participation fuels your growth.
Source: http://musiciansway.com/blog/2011/05/nail-your-audition/ accessed 17th May 2013
This next article is from The Boston Conservatory
Auditioning Tips for Musicians
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“There are no auditions, there are only performances.”
◦Audition as much as you can to gain experience.
◦Read audition notices carefully. Come prepared to audition.
◦Do your homework. Research the organization.
◦Choose audition material that displays your talent, versatility and technique.
◦Make sure your audition material is well-prepared.
◦Research the location prior to the date of your audition. If possible, execute a trial travel run for timing and distance.
◦Pick out your clothing the evening before and make sure everything is clean, ironed and ready to wear.
◦Get a good night’s sleep.
◦Surround yourself with positive people, places and things prior to the audition.
◦Dress neatly, nicely, comfortably, and flatteringly. Think dressy casual.
◦Wear something unobtrusive that won’t draw attention away from your performance. No big jewelry or outrageous hair styles.
◦Bring extra press packets.
◦Treat each audition with the reverence and the preparation of a performance.
◦Never be a no-show.
◦Never be late! Arrive early to warm up and settle yourself.
◦Go in with a strong ego and a positive, upbeat, friendly attitude.
◦Be nice and polite to everyone from beginning to end.
◦Approach each audition as a learning experience; turn your nervousness into excitement.
◦Concentrate and maintain your composure.
◦Thank the audition panel before you leave the room.
◦An audition is not over until you get home and close the door behind you. You never know who could be around you. Keep thoughts and comments about the audition exclusive to people you can trust.
◦Evaluate how you did so you can identify and work on your weaknesses.
◦Interviews may be a deciding factor.
◦Send a note of thanks to the appropriate party.
◦And remember, do not take rejection as failure.
Source: http://www.bostonconservatory.edu/auditioning-tips-musicians accessed 17th May 2013
Bulletproofmusician offers these pieces of advice
Use These 7 Key Preparation Tips to Be More Successful at Your Next Audition
by Dr. Noa Kageyama
Ah…the beginning of another new year. Full of excitement, promise, hope, and resolutions to be made (and broken…). Many of you have probably already jumped right back into full-blown practice mode, as school auditions are just around the corner. With that in mind, here are some key strategies to incorporate into your preparation for audition season, to reduce audition-day jitters and prepare you to do your best when the moment arrives.
Are you familiar with the runner’s adage “Nothing new on race day”? What exactly does this mean? It means making sure one has experimented with and practiced things like pre-race nutrition, in-race hydration, and warm-up routines, also ensuring that socks, shoes, shorts, and shirt are broken-in and not going to cause blisters or chafing.
Thankfully, chafing is not a concern for musicians, but the principle of “nothing new” is a sound one. It means setting up a series of mock auditions for yourself so that you have opportunities to rehearse all aspects of the audition process, from what you eat the day before, to what goes through your mind in the last few seconds before you play the first note.
What are you going to eat the night before? The morning of? What are you going to drink? How much? If you are a regular coffee drinker, are you going to wean yourself off weeks ahead of your audition so you don’t get caffeine withdrawal headaches? Plan all of this out and test it in advance, so that it is part of a familiar routine come audition day. You might find, for instance, that a big pasta dinner works better for you 2 nights before your audition, than the night before.
Keep in mind too that you will be out of town on audition day, and may not feel like dragging yourself around in the cold in a new neighborhood just to find your favorite strawberry fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt or cinnamon crunch bagel with low-fat hazelnut cream cheese shmear. Be sure to practice being somewhat flexible and adaptable in your preparation.
Practice performing in the clothes you plan on wearing, even down to the socks and shoes you plan on wearing (this impacts pianists more than other instrumentalists, but still).
Here too, practice being somewhat flexible as well – you never know when the airline might misplace your luggage and your favorite heels, or lucky Spongebob Squarepants boxers.
Run a few mock auditions on different pianos, a sub-par set of timpani, or a string slightly out of tune. Don’t allow yourself to be thrown off even if the instruments aren’t exactly to your liking.
Conduct your mock auditions in less than idea environments. Try big rooms, small rooms, cold rooms, hot rooms, and rooms with acoustics of various types.
If at all possible, scope out the room you will be auditioning in the day before. Walk around in it, play a few notes if you can, and take a mental snapshot of the space so that you can mentally rehearse having a great audition in that space as part of your mental preparation the day before (or even earlier if you already are familiar with the space). This is actually a tremendously helpful thing to do – be resourceful and find a way to make it happen.
4. Warm-up routine
Have an established warm-up routine that you utilize every day. When I took martial arts classes in grad school, ritual and routine were part of our preparation for class. Unfolding the uniform, putting it on in a certain order, making sure everything was in order and tying everything together just so, bowing in, warming up, stretching, etc. all were part of the training experience.
It’s the same thing for musicians. We all have a particular way of taking out our instrument, adjusting it, and getting it ready to play. We may have a stretching routine, or play scales, or slowly through the openings of our repertoire. Whatever it is, don’t just go through the motions, but be mindful of the steps you take, seeing this as an important ritual that gets you into the right mindset for effective practicing or performing. Such a routine can become almost meditative, and is a valuable process for clearing your mind and getting mentally prepared to go train/practice/perform. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.
Know what piece you want to start with, in the likely event that you are given a choice.
First impressions are key, and your jitters will likely be greatest before you begin playing, so practice the first line or two of each piece to death, making sure this is rock-solid and that you feel exceedingly comfortable with the very opening.
But also practice starting at other places in each piece, where the committee might reasonably have you start. Ask a friend to select random pieces from you list and have you start at reasonable starting locations that you are not accustomed to beginning with.
You never know what a committee will ask for, and while you can’t possibly have everything prepared at the same high level, you can at least develop a comfort level with unpredictability, such that you aren’t thrown off your game and mentally say “oh, crap” when asked to begin with the piece that you least expected them to ask for.
6. Pre-performance routine
Be sure to develop a mental routine to go through in the last few moments before you play – a routine which will help you eliminate distractions, clear your mind, and get you focused on the task at hand. Centering is one such pre-performance routine, and you can certainly experiment with and tweak it as needed to make it work for you. Even something as simple as hearing the first few measures vividly in your head before beginning can help to clear out extraneous mental chatter and set you up for a better opening.
Last, but not least…
Think of all the practicing you are doing, and combine this with the other daily responsibilities and demands that life and school place on you. What is the result? Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue.
In a study of Stanford University athletes, researchers found that increasing sleep led to greater alertness and vigor (no surprise there), faster reaction times, greater accuracy, speed, and explosive power. In short, improved performance. Note that just a couple nights of good sleep won’t cut it. Since most of us are operating on what sleep researchers call a sleep debt, you’ll probably need at least several weeks of sleeping 9-10 hours a day in order to begin reaping the benefits. What? 10 hours? Sounds crazy, I know, but think about how much better you feel when you’re well-rested vs. after a week of cramming for exams and all-nighters.
Can we play pretty darn well when we’re sick or tired? Certainly. Michael Jordan demonstrated as much in his so-called “flu game.” But it’s awfully difficult, takes tremendous focus and will, and the level of performance we reach is not likely to be on par with our absolute best. Make things easier for yourself and just get more sleep. There will be plenty of time to catch up on re-runs of The Office after the audition…
The one-sentence summary
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” ~Alexander Graham Bell
Source: http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/use-these-7-key-preparation-tips-to-be-more-successful-at-your-next-audition/ accessed 17th May 2013
Music Biz Academy has this to say on the subject
7 Steps to a Successful Audition
by Marco Kasel, Posted August 27th, 2007
I have been a musician since the age of 7 and in my career I've passed a larger number of auditions all of which have taught me something. These days, however, as the owner of a talent agency, I seem to be learning a disproportionate amount more about these same auditions. There is something to be said about looking at an issue from different perspectives.
In this article, I want to shed some light on what an audition process looks like from the point of view of the "auditioner" rather than the "auditionee.” I'll give you seven tips that will hopefully help you prepare better for upcoming auditions.
I should mention that my company hires musicians, bands, and variety acts for placement on cruise ships and thus the auditions I'll talk about will mostly relate to cruise line entertainment auditions, however, auditions for jobs outside of the cruise line industry are very similar so this applies to just about any musician.
Let me quickly outline the various types of auditions you can encounter when applying for a job on a cruise ship. The most obvious type would be the live audition, where you go to the audition location in person and play what's asked of you. You may also be asked to record your audition on videotape and mail it to the company. This is very similar to the first category since you'd play almost exactly the same music. And finally, you may be asked to submit a recording of your band or your solo act to the company. This audition differs from the previous two in that you don't have to perform music that the company provides, but rather your own repertoire.
There are several problems that keep arising in regards to these different types of auditions that have led me to compile the following tips.
1. Get the details on the job description
This is one of the most important steps. If you know exactly what it is that the employer is looking for, you won't waste time, money, and energy presenting the wrong package. There is no point in submitting a CD/DVD of your local blues band if the employer is looking for a cover band that plays all kinds of musical styles. Similarly, there is no point in applying as a clarinet player if the job description clearly indicates that woodwind players have to play saxophone, flute and clarinet. Also, if sight-reading is the main focus of the job you're applying for, there is no point in hoping you'll slip by simply because you can improvise like Charlie Parker.
2. Be flexible enough to present what's actually needed
Let's assume that you got all the details on the job description and you realize that you don't exactly fit that description. It is probably wiser for you to take some time to try to fit the description, rather than trying anyway, hoping it'll pass somehow. Try to make changes to your line-up, add some repertoire or start a completely new project that’s geared toward the job in question. You want to avoid getting turned down, otherwise it may be hard or impossible to establish credibility with the company you’ve auditioned for, which in turn can ruin your chances for a future career.
3. Audition only when you feel that you have a good chance of passing
Often musicians apply for a job they are not qualified for. Now, you could argue that that's what auditions are for, and people couldn't possibly know in every case whether they are qualified or not. I agree, all I'm saying is that if the job description mentions that strong sight-reading skills are required for example, musicians should ask themselves how good their sight-reading skills really are and be honest about it.
Being dishonest about what your skills really are can hurt you in more ways than one. Let's assume for a minute that you slip through the cracks and you end up in an orchestra but you can't cut the gig. First and foremost, you'll be humiliated in front of other musicians, you'll feel uncomfortable, you may actually feel guilty for not being able to do the job, and you will get fired on top of it, which will most likely kill your career before it has begun. (This happens all too often...)
So if you are unsure about whether you are qualified or not, ask questions. Call the agency you are about to audition for and ask specific questions that will help you get a good picture of the job you're about to apply for. With that knowledge you can always postpone the audition and work on the skills that you may feel you're lacking.
4. Put some time and effort into preparing your best possible package
This applies to bands, small ensembles, and solo entertainers. Often artists get turned down, not because they are bad entertainers, but because they didn't supply a package that's appealing, that can be viewed quickly and that presents exactly what was asked for in the beginning. Often this happens because the artist already has some demo laying around that could kind of qualify but not really, and instead of modifying it or recording a new one that fits the specifications, they send it in anyway.
Usually, demo packages include the recording itself, which should present the exact repertoire you're planning to play on the gig, a short resume of each member, and a list of your repertoire.
You won't impress people with fancy DVD animations or 12-page resumes, but rather with short examples of the repertoire that's asked of you, played with energy and skill.
5. Try to impress with your playing, not with your resume
I would say 7 people out of 10 probably fall under this category. Simply put, a masters degree from the best school in the country won't get you a gig if you can't play, yet all too often do people try to sway the decision in their favor by mailing in overly long resumes stating all the famous people they've played with. You're doing yourself a disservice if you hype yourself up with your resume and you can't back it up later during the audition.
6. If you fail, accept the criticism and use it to prepare better for your next audition
All the practicing in the world may sometimes not be enough to pass an audition. If that's the case, accept the reasons that you're given by the jury, and go home and practice those specific things. If they aren't forthcoming with specific reasons, ask questions. I think it's only fair that a jury tells you what your weaknesses are if they turn you down. I'll spare you the details of all the things we've heard from people that have been rejected. Just watch "American Idol,” and you'll get a good idea of what we go through sometimes.
7. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
This step ties in with step #3. Keep in mind that the ideal candidate for a job is not always the best musician. Other qualities like honesty, work ethic, respect for others and inter-communication skills, amongst others, are qualities that you're being judged on. Weaknesses you've been trying to hide prior to the audition will come out during the audition and will speak volumes about your character. Would you hire a dishonest person?
A lot of candidates don't bother to cancel their audition if they can't make it! This leaves a very bad impression. Companies like to know that they can rely on the people they hire, not to mention that there should be mutual respect between the two parties. All candidates that fail to notify us (at Oceanbound Entertainment Inc.) of their cancellation will be blacklisted, and won't be given another audition slot.
Those are my seven steps to a successful audition. I hope that some of you will find this information helpful. Please visit my website for more information on the subject of "Music on Cruise Ships.” Contact me if you have questions or if you'd like to audition.
Marco Kasel is a musician and business owner. More articles can be found on his blog (http://blog.oceanbound.ca/blog/) or on his website www.oceanbound.ca
Source: http://www.musicbizacademy.com/articles/mk_audition.htm accessed 17th May 2013