Whether you’re a student trying out for All-State Orchestra, auditioning for music school, or a musician with aspirations to play in a professional group, the same principles apply in each instance. Here are a few tried and true tips to help ace that next audition.
Preparation is Key
Make a schedule about 8 weeks in advance of the date with all the required scales, excerpts, and pieces. List a milestone or goal for each week in the time frame. Make your audition repertoire and focused practice time your priority. During weeks 1-4, work diligently with the metronome each practice session. By about week 5, schedule in several mock auditions for trusted musician friends and ask for feedback. You can even do this online if you have friends far away--make a private Facebook group or private Youtube links and post videos there to obtain good comments. Ask people who will give you not only praise but criticism that will push you to improve.
Listen & Record
Listen to recordings of great artists playing your repertoire. Study your score as you listen, and check the tempi with your metronome. Then go back to your practice with those sounds and phrasing in your head as you make it your own. Record yourself at least once a week during the 8 week period, then listen and reflect on your progress. Video is best to analyze your movements, check tempi, intonation, and any other issues that need more practice.
Take Care of Yourself
During the pre-audition phase, it is also very important to take good care of yourself. You want to be in an optimal state to play your best. Get enough rest, eat healthily, and drink plenty of water. Exercise as you normally do, nothing more strenuous as you would not want to pull muscles that affect your playing.
A Marathon, not a Sprint
In many ways, an audition is similar to training for a marathon. There is a training schedule, then a tapering period before the actual race. What you’ve done in your training will reflect on the race day, but sometimes there are extra factors that can make or break the race day that cannot be accounted for beforehand. So, be as prepared as possible and trust in the work you’ve done to get to the audition day.
The Day Before & Day Of
While it may seem counterproductive, it is best not to overpractice the day before or morning of the audition. Listen to recordings, study your scores, and relax. Double check the outfit that you will wear is comfortable and appropriate, it is best to look sharp and not too casual. The morning of, have your normal breakfast. Too much caffeine will not help your chances when there is extra adrenaline in your system, so stick with one cup of coffee or tea if that is your normal morning drink. Leave with plenty of time to get to the venue. Smile, breathe, and play your best.
These tips can help you feel and play your best. Put in the work and you will see the results.