When it comes to an upcoming orchestra audition, you may really be feeling the pressure. It’s important to remember that every audition committee is unique, so it can be very difficult to know what to expect. However, there are some fundamental audition concepts that will help your performance receive the positive attention it deserves. Here are Fusion Bag’s top seven tips for a great orchestra audition.
Preparation is the antidote for anxiety
Your upcoming audition is likely to really have got your adrenalin pumping. You are likely to feel both nervous and excited in the build-up to and during the audition. Long before your audition you will have to develop your ability to keep your nerves in check and your mind focused. Vigilant preparation before your audition will help you to quell any emotions that could potentially change the way you play. An audition is no time for vague playing. Practice exactly what you hope to reproduce in the audition. This will keep you focused and will prevent any poorly timed pangs of anxiety from causing your fingers to slip.
As a professional musician, you will naturally have a great mastery of the basics. In an audition, it can be incredibly tempting to stick to what you know and simply demonstrate the accuracy of your musical understanding. However, to portray real musical understanding, you shouldn’t be afraid to go further. The committee members who are listening to your audition are likely to be musicians themselves. They will gravitate towards inspired playing, rather than just simply accurate playing. Show your true musical understanding by demonstrating that you know more than just the basics.
Accept the unknown
There will be a number of variables in your audition that you will be unable to control. You won’t be able to change what the hall will sound like, which musicians will be warming up next to you and in what order you will be performing. When practising for your audition, you should change the conditions and environments in order to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings. Get a few people to listen to you in a large space and a smaller space. Have someone else choose the order in which you will be performing the repertoire.
Produce a beautiful sound
As a musician, the tone of your instrument is your voice. It doesn’t matter whether you play your repertoire with effortless accuracy, if your tone is off, you will receive negative attention from the committee. Candidates receive more scrutiny for producing substandard tone than any other single factor. Pay close attention to the sound you produce, especially on the shorter notes. You should also avoid playing too loudly or to too softly, otherwise you may lose control of the sound altogether.
Any player will feel the bitter sting of disappointment at making a mistake in the early stages of their audition. However, it is your general level of musicianship and instrument control that is under scrutiny by the committee. They will be able to tell the difference between a blunder due to nerves and a general tendency to make mistakes. A number of minor mistakes can be forgiven if you play your errors beautifully and recover with grace. The true mark of orchestral musicianship is not just accuracy, it is overall musicianship.
Play your own way
When being offered an audition for a reputable orchestra, it can be incredibly tempting to adjust the way you play in order to cater to what you think the committee will want to hear. This can potentially be incredibly unproductive and putting yourself outside of your comfort zone could lead to a dead-end audition. The committee will want to hear sophisticated musical ideas, backed up with technical means for excellent expression. Use the repertoire to express your unique sense of style and musical understanding. Your individuality is sure to be remembered and appreciated upon review.
Play the instrument you’re comfortable with
All too often musicians borrow instruments for their audition. This may be because they feel that a hired instrument may be superior to their own, or simply because they cannot transport their own instrument from home to the audition. Take it from us, you will only sound your best on an instrument that you are entirely comfortable with. You shouldn’t feel pressured to hire a superior instrument, as the committee will be focusing on your performance, not your instrument. If you are struggling to transport your own instrument, take a look at our Fusion Bags – designed and created to suit the needs and demands of a variety of travelling musicians.