The first time I ever had to audition for something was in the 4th grade for a community theater show. Everyone got up and sang a quick song in front of the group. It really was about as low stress as it could be, but I had never done something like it before and was terrified. I remember telling my mom that I didn’t want to do it anymore and she proceeded to tell me to stop being ridiculous and get up there (thanks mom =D).
By this point, over 15 years later, I’ve now prepared and done hundreds of auditions for choirs, bands, colleges, graduate programs, summer festivals, and of course orchestras. I think I’d be lying if I said it becomes easy, but I think that the more auditions you take the more you learn how you react in what is a completely foreign situation to what we do as performers.
Here are some of the tips that I’ve learned in my time as an “auditionee”:
1. Stick to Your Routine
A lot of time we make the mistake of trying to get in tons of extra practice the week before and completely ware ourselves out by the time of the audition. You want to already have a strong foundation and routine set up and then not go and change everything the week before just because you have an audition. Similarly, try and make sure that you have as normal of a day as possible the day of the audition. Depending on what and where the audition is this can be more challenging, but I always try to wake up with enough time to make sure I can get coffee/breakfast and have plenty of time to get to the audition site. For those who are doing school auditions, try to go through your day as you would any other day. Treat the audition as just another thing on your to-do list for the day. This will help you to not blow it out of proportion in your mind.
2. Eat a Good Breakfast.
If you normally eat breakfast then you definitely don’t want to skip that day. If not, make sure you fuel up somehow. Generally audition days are high stress so it’s a good idea to prepare for that.
3. Have a Snack Before the Audition
My auditions always tend to be around lunch or dinner times. I usually just try to have a snack (fruits, trail mix, and protein bars are generally my go-tos) about 45 minutes to an hour before my call time. Then afterwards is the time for a larger meal.
4. Get a Good Nights Sleep
It’s important to have as much energy and focus as possible and getting a full night’s rest is the best way to do that.
5. Don’t Over Practice and Practice Slowly
To be frank, if you are not ready for the audition the day before then there isn’t much you can do that’s going to fix that. Do a lot of light practicing at SLOW tempos! I repeat: SLOW tempos!! Doing slow practice right before a performance or audition is the best way to really remind your brain what exactly you need to be aware of in the music.
6. Try to Visualize the Audition
This can be hard especially if you’re new to auditioning, but at the very least you want to visualize yourself in the audition room and most importantly you want to visualize your audition going well. A lot of auditioning can be a head game and if we are constantly thinking about everything that can go wrong then generally something probably will. Try to visualize that run that you’ve been struggling with being super clean or that interval that always cracks being really smooth rather than the opposite.
7. Expect the Unexpected
This next one kind of contradicts the last tip, but the reality is that I’ve never had two auditions that were exactly the same. Even when they are a similar format there’s always something that’s not exactly the same. So be ready to make changes on the fly and roll with whatever happens!
8. Stay Focused on You
Whether you’re in a group warm up room or literally in a group audition you must stay focused on what you need to do in that moment. This isn’t easy by any means, but the fact is that the only thing that you can control is what you do. You can’t control how well anyone else plays and you certainly can’t control how the judges will favor you. All you can control is your preparation and what you do during your time so make sure that is what you’re focused on.
9. Reflect on Your Performance and Not the Results
No matter what the results end up being you want to make sure that you are reflecting on how you felt about your performance. An important part of the audition process is reflecting back and thinking about what went well and what you can improve on in the future. Be honest with yourself and strive for consistency and improvement for the next one!
10. Celebrate It Being Over!
Once again, no mater what the results are be sure to celebrate the fact that you did it! It takes an extreme amount of courage to take an audition and anyone who does, whether they are in 4th grade singing Happy Birthday for a community theater or auditioning for the principal bassoon of the Berlin Philharmonic, should be proud of themselves!
There is so much more that could be said about this topic (people have whole careers dedicated to helping others with auditions), but I do hope that some of these tips will be helpful to you on your next audition! Good Luck!