Audition Prep Info (Cichowicz)

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by orchtrpt, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. orchtrpt

    orchtrpt Pianissimo User

    Mar 4, 2004
    On Preparing for Auditions

    Vincent Cichowicz

    Perhaps one of the most important things to realize when it comes to
    taking an audition for a symphony orchestra is how great
    the odds are that you will not win. Simple mathematics suggest that
    upwards of a hundred people are vying for a single
    opening, so the odds are against any one individual. It is important to
    fully appreciate this because once you do, certain
    valuable truths become apparent. One is that to take an audition if you
    have not preceded it by the most thorough preparation,
    is to turn bad odds into impossible ones. Your preparation for an audition
    should start as soon as you decide to take it.
    Actually, your daily preparation should already be geared in this
    direction - that is to say, one continual preparation for all
    future auditions. Then when you learn of a specific audition you shift
    into a more concentrated and intensified effort. It is
    important to have a clearly defined routine, rather than a hit and miss
    effort. The kind of work you do is dictated by the
    demands which the audition process places on you.

    You will need an unusual amount of endurance. While one seldom has to play
    for more than twenty minutes at a time, it is
    non-stop playing of excerpts from the most demanding literature. So if
    youUre not already in the best shape, you must get
    there. This means forcing yourself to practice carefully and deliberately
    with frequent rest periods. It means taking the time for
    a meticulous warm-up every time you pick up the horn after a long break.
    You canUt afford to waste time recovering from the
    effects of unintelligent practicing the day before. Each day should
    include a healthy amount of really strenuous work but it
    shouldnUt be at the wrong time or too often. Each of us is an individual
    and it is important to find out what works for you. I
    feel safe in saying that the best way to build endurance is to practice
    many hours a day consistently. In my mind the individuality
    comes in as how you spread out the time. The old saying is RItUs quality,
    not quantity, that counts.S But I believe playing
    quality improves after a large quantity of work. Remember the obvious -
    you canUt afford to acquire strength at the expense
    of flexibility and sound. This is especially true, since one of the
    hardest things about an audition is the way you must switch
    back and forth between the various playing styles.

    Too often a player is overwhelmed by the list of required excerpts and
    starts working on those exclusively. This is the wrong
    way to go. You shouldnUt forsake other necessary parts of your daily
    routine. And when you encounter an excerpt you canUt
    negotiate, diagnose the problem in terms of general playing weakness
    rather than RHereUs another two bars IUll have to
    practice a 100 times a day.S That alone may not do it. This is especially
    important when the problem involves range or
    endurance. If you keep playing the Heldenleben, Zarathustra, and Mahler
    5th style excerpts over and over when the problem
    is you donUt have all the power or range you need, you may one day wake up
    with an even smaller range and less power. We
    sometimes lose sight of the fact that weUre dealing with muscles, and
    while they shouldnUt be babied, they canUt be abused.
    In this connection, it only makes sense to avoid taking jobs that will
    tear you down. Free up your schedule as the audition
    nears. What good does it do to work for weeks and then take a demanding
    job the night before that leaves you stiff on
    audition day?

    In addition to the physical ability that is required, you must demonstrate
    a thorough mastering of the orchestral style of trumpet
    playing. This is not a requirement that can approached in weeks or even
    months. In connection with this, a very important
    consideration is always RDoes he really know these pieces?S Those
    listening to you will be asking themselves that question.
    In fact, it has become increasingly difficult to be accepted as an
    auditionee if your resume does not show considerable
    orchestral experience on a professional level. IUm not talking just about
    the big orchestras. Personally, I think it is ridiculous
    for a small, part-time orchestra to reject applicants due to a Rlack of
    professional experience.S More often than not, the word
    RprofessionalS does not apply to the group itself. But this should impress
    upon you the need to demonstrate a thorough
    knowledge of the repertoire. It does not meanyou will have had to have
    performed everything on the list with an orchestra. It
    does mean that you will have to play the excerpts in a way that gives that
    impression. This is where most fail in their
    preparation. You cannot be content to have listened to most of the pieces
    or practiced most of the excerpts. You should have
    access to at least one recording of each piece on the list so you can
    study each one thoroughly. RThoroughlyS means
    knowing each composition so well that even under the pressure of an
    audition you cannot inadvertently play the excerpt in the
    wrong key or double up the time or do anything else that will shout out -
    RI have never played this piece with an orchestra!S

    Sometimes there will be a work listed that is not in the excerpt books.
    Then you must get a score or the trumpet part itself.
    This is a good idea anyway because the excerpt books are full of mistakes
    and they donUt always include everything you need
    to know. Most of the time theyUll use the actual part at the audition and
    anything that is on the page is liable to be asked. You
    should not prepare yourself for an audition with the idea that you will
    have a pretty good chance as long as they donUt ask for
    RthisS or Rthat.S DonUt leave anything to chance that you can control. As
    far as being able to show familiarity with each
    piece it is smart to own more than one recording. This is so that you will
    have an idea of the most widely accepted
    interpretations. This is most important as it concerns tempos. It is wise
    to steer a middle-of-the-road course here because
    unusually slow or fast tempos can wrongly suggest that you donUt know the
    piece. If youUve only heard one recording, you
    canUt be sure if the conductorUs tempos are unusual or not. (Ed.: If you
    know that the conductor has recorded the piece, get
    his recording.)

    It is important to understand auditions in terms of what they demand of
    you so that you can giveextra consideration to these
    areas. Some have already been pointed out. In addition, auditions require
    a more perfected sense of time than is usually
    required. In the orchestra you usually have at least one other voice to
    relate to and the conductor providing the basic time
    framework. At the audition you will play all alone and unless you have
    practiced with a critical eye to tempo you will be found
    to be deficient. Problems of this kind tend to be intensified under

    Provided that you are properly prepared in the other areas, the ability to
    perform at your best under stressful conditions is what
    it all comes down to at the actual audition. Individually, we are very
    different in the way we react to pressure. Some are more
    fortunate than others because they just naturally seem to do well when the
    demands are greatest. The key word is
    Rnaturally.S Those who do not do well under pressure have just not learned
    how to do something that comes naturally to
    others. This ability can be learned. It should help if you realize that
    the feeling of nervousness, unless it is out of control, is not
    bad. In fact, it is quite desirable. What we feel at those times is the
    flow of adrenaline, which is the stuff that great
    performances are made. It provides the extra energy that was never
    possible in non-stress situations. It also might help you to
    adopt the attitude that the only chance you have depends on your ability
    to go out there and do your very best, do

    Try and put the whole affair into a proper perspective. After all, the
    worst that will happen is that you wonUt get the job and
    that would leave you no worse off than you already are. There really is no
    RlosingS at an audition. Unless you ahve already
    decided that this will be your last audition if you donUt Rwin,S you will
    profit immeasurably from the experience. This is true
    even if you donUt play to the best of your ability. You will have a
    clearer picture of your weaknesses. It will, of course, feel
    better if you leave the stage having played well.

    Here are three books which can be extremely effective when it comes to
    learning how to be at your best under pressure:

    The Inner Game of Tennis - by Timothy Galway
    Psycho-Psybernetics - by Maxwell Maltz
    Maximum Performance - by L. Morehouse/L. Gross

    Here are a few miscellaneous considerations that I feel are important.
    Eliminate as many concerns as possible. You should be
    thinking of nothing else besides the audition on the day you have to play
    and for as long in advance of the audition day as
    possible. I have seen players come to an audition having taken work on the
    same day and spend the whole time worrying
    about whether or not theyUll miss their plane. You cannot expect to play
    your best unless you permit yourself to concentrate
    exclusively on the audition. You shouldnUt be worrying about other
    matters. If you have to travel a great distance, make sure
    you allow yourself plenty of time. Start quieting down your nerves long
    before you have to play. This is important. Running to
    catch a bus or plane will not help. For the same reason, I suggest
    avoiding standing around and talking to other candidates
    before you have to play. You should use this time to regain a calm state
    of mind and to remind yourself of a few key points that
    you feel are important to your performance. The time to be friendly is
    after the audition.

    DonUt try to play in a style that is not your own. Lately, I have seen a
    trend in this direction. Players try to figure out what kind
    of playing will please the audition panel based on a diagnosis of the
    trumpet style in that particular orchestra. This can be
    dangerous because there may be many factors that are not available to you.
    For example, who will make the final decision, the
    conductor, or the first trumpet? Or is it a decision made by a combined
    vote? Is the conductor happy with his current trumpet
    section, or is he looking for a darker or brighter sound? Even if you know
    for certain that the first trumpet player has the most
    say in the outcome and you know how he plays, you canUt be sure that his
    idea of what a trumpet sounds like isnUt at odds
    with the way he plays. But an even more important reason you shouldnUt
    play this game is that you are more likely to be
    convincing if you are playing the way that you feel is most appro-priate.
    If you are asked during an audition to play a section
    again and are requested to do it in a certain style, by all means be
    cooperative. DonUt try to second guess people you have
    never met. Be confident in your in your stylistic decisions.

    Make sure you have warmed-up the correct amount. The tendency is to
    over-do this and not have the strength left to play a
    clean audition. If you take your case out onto the stage, remove any
    mouthpieces you will not be using so you donUt grab the
    wrong one by mistake. Before playing the excerpt, make sure of the key
    that the trumpet is written. If the excerpt is in the
    middle of the page (or part) look back until you find the designation. The
    same applies to the key signature and whether or not
    the passage is muted. Take a few seconds to make these checks and to allow
    the blood to move back into your chops
    between excerpts. If you must change horns, it is perfectly okay to play a
    few notes before the excerpt. Just donUt take all
    day and try to impress them with your artistry, save this for the excerpt
    itself. (Ed.: It may also be wise to have RpracticedS
    your quick warm-up so you sound as good as possible at all times.)
    Some-times the person putting up the excerpts gives you
    the impression that heUd be happier if you didnUt take those few seconds
    before you play. Ignore him.

    These are a few things that I have learned from having taken many
    auditions. Depending on your own experiences, you will be
    able to add to these. Keep in mind that if you donUt win the audition,
    your work is not over. After you RrecoverS from the
    audition, sit down and dissect your preparations for and the performance
    itself to learn what you need to improve upon for the
    next time. Take pride in the fact that you gave it your best. ThatUs all
    you can demand of yourself.
  2. Kevin Good

    Kevin Good New Friend

    Sep 1, 2004
    Audition Prep Info- Chicowicz

    I'm giving a master class in Toronto and I've been thinking about the topic of "getting your head in the right place" for taking auditions.

    Vince pretty much says it all.

  3. orchtrpt

    orchtrpt Pianissimo User

    Mar 4, 2004
    Yes that is a fantastic piece of information! Great to see you here Kevin! Hope you will contribute so that we can learn from your experience!
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Wow. There it is in a nutshell - at least according to Vincent Chicowitz - all of the steps necessary to become a great trumpet player and win major auditions.

    Having the discipline to actually do what he has outlined? THAT is another matter entirely. ;)

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