Have you ever practiced weeks and weeks for an audition, but still felt unprepared? Have you ever walked into an audition feeling confident, only to make tons of silly mistakes when playing for the committee? In either instance, you’ve probably wondered how you should have prepared differently.
University of Maryland School of Music clarinet professor Robert DiLutis believes that getting audition-ready requires intentional work both inside and outside the practice room. Here are his top 5 tips for audition victory:
1. Plan Ahead
Having a schedule for your audition will keep you relaxed and focused. Whether it's the day before the audition, month ahead or the audition day, having a schedule and a solid plan will promote a successful audition. Work backwards form the audition day to determine how long it will take to prepare and decide if you can commit and invest in the audition. Plan out a practice schedule, mock auditions, exercise routine and any other daily events.
2. Mock Auditions
Playing for others is key to a good audition. Try to find teachers, friends or even family members to play for. This will help you recreate the atmosphere of a real audition. Build a screen from a tarp or bed sheets and play behind it. Screens can be very impersonal so you need to get used to this method of performing. When you are fully prepared, create in your mind a visualization of the entire audition. Sit in a quiet place and imagine yourself playing a great audition and what that feels, sounds and looks like.
3. Relax and Be Yourself
Orchestra committees want to hire people they can work with for many years. Be positive and focused. Avoid socializing and distracting people during the audition day. These things can drain you of your energy and make for a long day. Eat foods you like and bring them with you. When you are on the road, eating out can be hard on your system. Search out good restaurant and places to relax like parks and libraries.
Record yourself every day and pretend it’s the real audition. Listen in layers. Think about rhythm, intonation, notes, phrasing, attacks, color, style, and dynamic range. The number one reason musicians get cut in the first round is unstable rhythm. Record yourself with the metronome in the background. It may surprise you if you drift from the pulse when listening back.
5. It's Not a Big Deal
You're a musician. You play concerts, recitals, auditions and more. You will be performing for the rest of your life and placing extra pressure on any particular event will only increase your stress level. As you prepare for the audition, do what you always do. Exercise, eat well, socialize and keep a normal routine. The more you change from your normal life; the more auditions will feel out of place. Work hard to be balanced every day - not just for an audition!