Remember, an audition isn’t only about showing the audition committee you’re good enough. It’s also an opportunity for you to challenge yourself and grow into a better musician. The audition prepares you for the work we’ll be doing in rehearsal this summer. Try to focus on growth rather than proving yourself. Every time you challenge yourself, you will grow and learn something!
Here are some tried and true audition excerpt secrets:
- Start early! Don’t wait until the week (or day!) of the deadline. If you spend just a few minutes per day for a month, you’ll be way more successful than if you cram a bunch of hours in right before the deadline. Plus, you definitely don’t want practice injuries from overuse to get in the way of performing a beautiful audition.
- Select Carefully. Be sure to have a close look at all of the audition materials for your ensemble. Be certain that you prepare the correct measures and run it by your parents and your teacher to double check. Mark the audition excerpts in pencil with brackets. Plan to learn anywhere from one to eight measures each day, and hold yourself to it!
- Play Scales. Take a look at the key signature for your audition excepts and determine the key (major or minor). If you don’t have a scale book, look up some fingerings online. Play slowly through as many octaves as you can. The more, the better! Say or sing the note names aloud.
- Count! Check out your time signatures. Go through each measure slowly, counting “1 and 2 and” or “1 e and a, 2 e and a.” Be sure you can account for every beat. Clap and count-sing the rhythm aloud.
- Know the Notes. If you’re feeling a little unsure about the notes, play through the excerpt slowly, saying the note names aloud (or in your mind). DON’T write the note name or fingering over every single note. DO figure out the names of notes and name them aloud as frequently as you encounter less-familiar notes. If you force yourself to learn the notes as they are notated, you won’t have to rely as heavily on fingerings in the future.
- Put it altogether. Alternate repetitions of tricky sections saying the note names and counting (aloud if possible). Go slowly at first, then gradually bring it a little closer to full-tempo each repetition. Use a metronome about 30% of the time.
- Listen to Recordings. You can introduce the recording at any point in this process. Two things to remember: a) Don’t rely 100% on the recording for notes and rhythm. You might accidentally follow the wrong part! b) DO listen to the recording and eventually practice along with the recording (when you can play excerpts up to speed). You really need to know what else is happening to fully understand your excerpts. Audition committees can tell who has listened to recordings, because more knowledge always equals better performance.
- Take it to your teacher. BUT… try to teach it to yourself FIRST. Your teacher will appreciate the work you have put in, and you will be able to learn it more thoroughly if you’ve put in the work before bringing it to your teacher. Ask them to play it for you, and take note of where their interpretation may differ from yours. The better you have practiced beforehand, the higher the level that you can reach before the audition is recorded. Your teacher would love to teach you musicality rather than just focus on notes and rhythms. And you probably have other important things to cover in your lessons, too!
- Practice Auditions. Perform your full audition for friends and family. Record your audition a few times well-before your video is due, listen and critique yourself, then carefully practice those things that need a bit more attention.
- Add Style. Once you know you have all the notes and rhythms correct (and even before you have them at full tempo), be sure that you are following dynamics, and phrasing the music as beautifully as possible. Follow the printed articulation and listen to recordings for style. Those auditions that really stand out to a committee are the ones that are beautifully and expressively performed, along with all of the correct notes and rhythms.
- Have fun! Enjoy the progress you are making and fall in love with the music! Be sure you use the best recording you can find. Make a playlist for yourself. Apple and Google music apps can be really useful tools.
- Finish Early! Make your recording BEFORE the deadline. You don’t want to be up until midnight recording an audition. Instead, do it in the morning the weekend before the deadline. But only after eating a yummy, healthy breakfast. Drink lots of water, and get lots of sleep the night before!
- Keep it Up. After recording and submitting your audition, don’t stop practicing! This is the same music we’re playing at camp, so keep reviewing it at least a couple of times per week.
- Learn the rest of your music for camp, keep following these rules, and get to know ALL of your music well-before the first rehearsal. Even ten minutes per day can have you feeling well-prepared to come and make music!
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