Audition Do's and Don'ts

by Charles Decker, Trumpet Professor Tennessee Tech University

Preparing for the Audition

Do

  • Be well prepared so you will be less nervous.
  • Practice audition materials using a metronome and tuner.
  • Play the entire audition, including a sight-reading example, for as many people as possible to get experience in pacing yourself under pressure.
  • Spend as much time practicing sight reading as you do working on required scales and prepared music.
  • Get coaching on the audition materials
    Know key signatures and rhythmic syllables.

Don't

  • Wait until the night before to prepare the music.
  • Avoid practicing the technical control demanded by the music (rapid articulation, slurring flexibility, etc.).

At the Audition

Do

  • Dress up' to show you care about your performance.
  • Be early to your audition room.
  • Be friendly, confident, and speak up clearly if asked questions.

Don't

  • Play any longer than necessary in the warm-up room; stay focused on the audition, rather than trying to impress students in the warm-up room
  • Expect to play a 'perfect audition.'
  • Say to the adjudicator, 'I am not very well prepared,' or 'I can't sight read very well.'
  • Panic; it is normal to get nervous!

About Required Scales

Do

  • Play scales with consistent sound, speed, and patterns as adjudicators listen for sound quality and intonation control in addition to correct fingerings.
  • Play scales thinking the letter names of notes and 'singing' the sounds in your mind.

Don't

  • Play scales by 'finger feel' because fingers tend to 'forget' when one is nervous.

About Prepared Music

Do

  • Follow the printed dynamics, but add even more dynamic contrasts to demonstrate musicianship, proving you are concerned with more than just pitch and rhythm.
  • Practice the required examples many different ways, i.e., slur the music if it is tongued and vice versa, play it different tempos, vary dynamic levels from what is printed, play very freely as though a cadenza, etc.
  • Record yourself and listen to your audition as though you were the adjudicator.

Don't

  • Go any faster than you can play comfortably, regardless of the indicated tempo; slower accurate playing earns more points than fast inaccurate performance.

About Sight Reading

Do

  • Know the translations of basic Italian terms, i.e., andante, con moto, dolce, etc.
  • Look ahead in the music, especially during rests and long notes, to anticipate challenges.
  • Play confidently, even when you make errors (and everyone makes errors when sight reading).
  • Develop this systematic approach to improving sight reading; with practice, it can be done within the 30 seconds you have to review the music
    1. Check the four directions in the first measure.
      1. key signature
      2. time signature
      3. dynamic level
      4. tempo and style (allegro, cantabile, etc.)
    2. Scan for repetitious rhythmic patterns and exceptions to them.
    3. Scan for accidentals (sharps and flats) not in the key signature.
    4. Scan for changes in musical style, dynamics, or tempo.
    5. Scan for scale fragments and chord patterns.

Don't

  • Go faster than you can play the example as accurately as possible
  • Ignore dynamics and tempo indications; they are as important as the notes.
  • Attempt to practice fingering the entire sight-reading example since it is usually longer than the 30 seconds given to review the music; thus, the later part of the music will be a complete surprise.
  • Stop playing in the middle of the example or ask to start again; as best you can, complete the sight reading music.
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