An Empowered Approach

Auditions, for better or for worse, are a part of any professional musician's career. Early in my career, auditions were a great mystery to me. In my junior year of college I was one of the top horn players at my school. Yet when I first started taking professional auditions, I never got past the preliminary rounds.

After a while, I realized that it wasn't enough to play the horn well. I found out that I had to learn my excerpts deeply enough so that they would work well "on the battlefield." I also discovered that I needed to learn how to pace myself, deal with unexpected circumstances, and keep the focus on me. With each audition I learned more. I gradually started getting into final rounds, then becoming runner-up, and eventually winning. Ultimately, I served on many audition committees and learned even more from the other side of the screen. 

To begin let's identify the factors that are beyond our control at orchestral auditions:

  • Where we play
  • When we play
  • What we play
  • What they're looking for

We need to take steps to make ourselves feel as comfortable as possible in what can be an unpredictable situation. Therefore, it's important to identify the things we can try to control:

  • Excellent preparation
  • Pacing
  • Being focused on technical and expressive techniques
  • Having a strong inner focus

Some of what you read here may make more sense after you've experienced one or two auditions. Let's start with the preparation phase. Read more...