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How To Prepare for an Audition

Hello everyone, today I wanted to talk about how to prepare for an audition. It's all about two main things: Preparing the music and preparing your mind.

1. Prepare the Music

Components of an Audition

There are usually 3 parts to an audition:

  1. Solo
  2. Excerpts
  3. Sight Reading

A) Solo Piece

Your solo piece is your opportunity to show your soloistic abilities. You must play strong and with passionate conviction. Choose a piece that has energy and shows off your strengths. This is your opportunity to get their attention and get them off their seats!

B) Excerpts

Your excerpts will show how technically proficient you are. Perfect rhythm and pitch are essential. Make sure you have as much dynamic contrast as possible and your phrasing must be exceedingly clear. While passion and energy are important, technical perfection and clarity of notes are paramount.

C) Practicing Excerpts

How you practice your excerpts is exceedingly important. When practicing excerpts, remember a few key things:

  • Up until about 2 weeks before the audition, always practice sitting down. This stabilizes the body and prevents fatigue. About 2-3 weeks before the audition, start standing up. You can stand up when your excerpts are "at performance tempo."

  • Up until about 1 week before your audition, ALWAYS play excerpts with a metronome. A metronome is perfection. Always play with perfection because it will prevent you from playing unevenly, rushing, or dragging. Start playing excerpts at at least 1/2 speed once you've learned all of the fingerings and bowings. Gradually build the speed WITH the metronome.

  • Record yourself. We always sound better in our minds than in real life. Once you think you sound pretty great, record yourself and listen. Chances are, you will not sound nearly as good as you think you do and you'll know exactly what you need to practice.

D) Sight Reading

Sight reading must be practiced as a process. Don't just rely on flying by the seat of your pants. I have a great sight reading video. You can click the link in the description to see the vid, and it talks about an easy 3-step process that you can practice that will make you a great sight reader.

2. Prepare Your Mind

Most people think that preparing the music is by far the most important aspect of an audition. While it is obviously extremely important to prepare the music, most people do not represent themselves accurately in an audition because they do not properly prepare their mind. Preparing your mind will enable you to accurately show the audition committee how well you can play the excerpts. You can win against players who are technically better than you if you are mentally prepared to represent yourself more accurately.

To prepare your mind, you must:

  • Have Mock Auditions. The idea behind mock auditions is to try and duplicate the audition situation as closely as possible. You will have someone "run" the audition for you. You will walk into a room with your music, place it on the stand. They will tell you when to play the first piece, then the excerpts, then the sight reading (20 seconds to look at music). They will either write actual critiques down or they will pretend. Have a mock audition in a different room every time, so your mind gets used to change. Try to find rooms that feel foreign to you. It could be at someone else's house or school or a room at your home that you normally do not play in. If you do not have a person to "run" the audition, then use your mind. Still, walk in the audition and run through everything as you would in an audition setting without stopping.

  • Make Yourself Nervous. If you are scared to play for friends, teachers, or family, then how well will you do with stern-looking, highly detail-oriented strangers? You must play in front of people as much as possible until you are significantly less nervous.

  • Overarching Idea. The overarching idea is that you have taken the audition so many times that by the time you actually play the audition, it's just another time you are auditioning and it's old news. Your body and mind have memorized how to play, feel, and think, and you will be bulletproof!

Good luck!