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audition tips

How to practice audition repertoire

  • Obtain audition requirements far in advance.

  • Decide on an opening piece that shows off your strengths. A difficult section played well can show off your skills.

  • Use a tuner and metronome during the early stages of practice. This will help you correct pitch and rhythm problems as you learn the piece.

  • Prepare expressive parts as carefully as technical parts. Identify the mood and message of these sections.

  • Be aware that the audition committee may only ask for part of a piece. Be able to start your piece from various points (not always at the beginning).

  • Be familiar enough with your material so that you can perform it no matter what happens.

  • Yes, you can practice sight-reading. Take an étude book, flip to a new page, take a few minutes to study the music, and then sightread it.

  • Know your scales from memory.

  • Rehearse in your performance or audition clothes. Are you comfortable? Practice walking in your shoes.

  • Record your program on an audio or video recorder to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Build up your strengths and work on weak areas.

  • Practice playing in front of an audience and let them critique your performance.

What to do on audition day

  • Dress appropriately and treat the audition as you would a job interview. Let the audition committee know that this is important to you.

  • Arrive early and warm up.

  • Bring music and anything else you might need (extra strings, reeds, etc.).

  • Smile! Make eye contact with the audition committee. It’ll help you relax.

  • Be courteous.

  • Be professional.

  • Take plenty of time at the audition—don’t rush!

  • Speak confidently.

  • Think positively.

  • Use good posture.

  • Relax and breathe! You can’t audition if you faint.

  • Keep going even if you make mistakes—don’t quit.

  • Don’t make excuses—the audition committee has heard them all.

  • Know that if the audition committee asks you to play something with a change it doesn’t mean you played it wrong. They may want to see how you take and make a correction.

  • Enjoy yourself!

  • After the audition, don’t freak out. People like to beat themselves up after an audition. Be realistic and look at the overall impression that you left.

(Taken from the August 2003 edition of Teaching Music, Vol 11, No. 1, the publication of the National Association for Music Education)

How to prepare an excerpt for an audition

By Claudette Laureano, MYS Co-Artistic Director

Begin practicing the excerpt early so that you have enough time to learn it well and so that it is as secure as your solo.

Bring the excerpt to your teacher for direction and advice. Learning an excerpt should be no different than learning a study or solo. Your teacher may have some wonderful insight to help you learn the excerpt to the best of your ability.

Learn the correct notes and rhythms slowly (slow practice=fast progress). Use a metronome, especially at the beginning, to keep the beat steady.

String players, make sure that you are doing all the bowings that are indicated. If there is a question about a bowing, ask your teacher or call our office for clarification. We put bowings in these parts to see if you can and will follow them.

The metronome markings that are indicated are a guide. It is best to work your excerpt up to that marking, but a little slower or faster will not make a big difference. If the tempo is beyond your ability, then choose a less difficult excerpt. Remember that in time, with correct practice habits, you will attain your goal. That is why we suggest that you begin studying these excerpts well before your auditions.

Subdivide (and conquer) to assure accurate counting. When the rhythm is complicated, slow the tempo down! With a pencil, mark the subdivisions and set the metronome to a slower beat. For example, if the quarter note = 100, put the metronome beat on eighth note = 150. Then work your way up gradually (one or two notches at a time) to eighth note = 200. When you have attained this goal, put the metronome back down to 100 equals a quarter note beat and you should be able to play the passage up to tempo. This does not happen in one or two practice sessions. This is a process and it takes time. That is why we suggest that you begin learning your excerpts early.

Learn the entire excerpt. If we assigned it, be assured that we are going to listen to ALL of it!

When the notes and rhythms are really solid and up to tempo, start focusing on dynamics and phrasing. This is what makes music exciting! Try to observe all the nuances that are written in the music. Try to sing your part while looking at the notes.

It is also a good idea to study the music without your instrument. Look through it and take note of all the words that are written. Sometimes when we are so consumed with learning something new, we only notice the obvious. Often there are instructions that are overlooked because we have not taken the time to really study what is on the page. Also, having a little pocket music dictionary is helpful to translate foreign words that may be unfamiliar to you. If the word appears in the music, it is important.

Get a recording of the piece and listen to the entire movement so that you know the context of the excerpt. This helps in learning the rhythms, tempo, phrasing, dynamics, style, character, mood, etc. You never know, the sight-reading may actually be another section in the very same piece!