More than Mediocre Audition Tips

-It’s not an audition, it’s an advertisement of yourself. Think of what you want the judge to think of you and 9 times out of 10 that’s how you’ll come across.

-You’re just showing another person something new. Give them a performance that they’ll enjoy.

-Find things to focus on besides being nervous. Things like your embouchure, tone, dynamics, musicality… You get the point! If all else fails, come back to your breathing and how you’re using you air.

-Nerves are just a heightened sense of anticipation. They won’t kill you no matter how awful they may seem, I promise. They actually help you focus and just mean that you care about what you’re doing. So use that to your advantage.

-Everyone is nervous, not just you. Crazy, I know!

-The judge/ panel/ prospective professor wants you to succeed, no matter how scary they are.

-This audition is just a small step in the big picture of musician life. It doesn’t define your skills or your future in music. Basically make it or not, it’s not the end of the world. No sky will be falling based on your audition.

-If you make a mistake, just keep going. Chances are it sounded bigger to you than it did to the judge. They probably noticed, but they’ll be more impressed by how you recover.

-Just think of it as another lesson with a new person. Except they won’t give you feedback. They won’t really say much at all. So maybe it’s a lesson with a very antisocial teacher…

-Trust your practice. If you've prepared well, there's nothing to be concerned about.

-Tell a story through your music. The great thing about these auditions, you don’t have to say a word to anyone! All your “words” come out of your instrument so make it interesting!

-Think of all the ways your audition can go right. One of my favorite sports sayings is “You won’t hit the ball if you’re thinking of all the ways you’ll miss”. Same with an audition.

-Practice minimally the night before. If you don’t know your music by then, you’re not going to magically learn it over night. I’m not going to say don’t practice, just don’t stress yourself out.

-SLEEP! I cannot emphasize this enough. Get plenty of sleep the night before your audition. You’re not doing yourself any favors by staying up fretting about it. Sleep will help you be focused. Have a nutritious breakfast and plan out your morning so you’re not frantically running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Set out your clothes. Plan your breakfast. Give yourself plenty of time.

-Find ways to distract yourself from the actual audition while you’re waiting. Read a book. Listen to music. Overthinking about the audition is an easy way to psych yourself out and make silly mistakes.

-Play your pieces and scales half speed while warming up. This gets it in your fundamentals, fingers and your mind without stressing you out. It’ll be super tempting to play fast with everyone else around you playing fast, but don’t give in. Be that “ninja performer” that no one notices in the warmup. Make them notice you after results.

-Take a deep breath. Mostly because if you don’t breathe you’ll die so it’s kind of important.

-Refocus between each piece of the audition. Think of, in your head, exactly how you want your piece to sound before you even play it. Don’t rush into playing the next thing. Take your time and just focus, you already know your music. Now it’s just a mind game.

-RHYTHM is of utmost importance.

-In the scheme of things, this is just one person’s opinion that you may or may not agree with. That’s the great thing about music. No interpretation of an etude is wrong, just different. Now scales are a different story, you better have those correct and at 88 bpm.

-This is something that just a few years ago was a dream that has now turned into a reality. Remember why you started and be proud of how far you've come.

-Just have fun! I know that sounds weird being that this seems like the most important thing in the world, but you perform best when you’re relaxed. Every performance/ auditions comes with nerves. There’s no way to get rid of them. The best musicians just learn how to control them. You got this! Show them what you can do! No matter what, you’re still doing something you love. I was talking to my past professor, Dr. Gregory Oakes, and he told me that he tried out for at least 30 professional orchestras before he got his first job! The key to his success was persistence. He never gave up and never got discouraged. When he fell short at one audition, he worked even harder for the next. That’s what the “music world” is all about. Never giving up!

-Reward yourself no matter what the results are. Win or lose you worked hard and that’s what really matters. If you made it, congratulations! If not, don’t hang your head. There were just others that were better than you on this day. It doesn’t mean you failed. It just gives you a perspective of the work you have for next time. This is an advantage.

A note from the author: I hope these tips help you have a fantastic audition! Over my short few years of auditioning I’ve learned that everyone goes through the same audition, but the successful ones are the people are go in with a good and focused mind set (and lots of practice). Noa Kagayama has developed a whole course based on the psychology of performance through "Bulletproof Musician". Check it out! The key is being completely focused on you. Don’t listen to the others around you warming up, they’ll just get in your head. Your work was done in the practice room so use this time to shine and show them all your hard work. You’re an awesome, accomplished musician! Good luck on your audition!!

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