Mastering the art of auditioning.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Double_G, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. Double_G

    Double_G Pianissimo User

    May 4, 2005
    Gordonsville, TN
    Ok, well, I have once again failed miserably at my Mid-state audition. I just have such bad nerves and I get so tense and nervous. By the end of my lyrical piece I was shaking so much that the note was nearly inaudible. It didn't even really sound like a note. I don't know what to do. It was my last chance to make my regional band due to the fact that I'm a senior. I have my first collegiate audition next Thursday which will consist of basically the same thing. The thing that I really bombed on though was sight-reading.

    Mike Ansberry was one of my judges. If he's still around I'd like to PM you and talk about some stuff about my audition if you took notes or anything over people.

    I would just like to know what you guys would do to calm an irrational fear of failure and how do you practice sight-reading? I mean, I guess I understand why you do, but I just don't get HOW you do it. It seems there should be more to it than just sitting down with your horn and a book and reading etudes.

    Can anyone help and if Mr. Ansberry is around could you PM me please?
  2. _TrumpeT_

    _TrumpeT_ Piano User

    Apr 26, 2006
  3. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    i can suggest a couple books, inner game of music and a soprano on her head
  4. BFlinch83

    BFlinch83 Pianissimo User

    Dec 12, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    Something that Jim Ross told me that really helped is that the breath should completely calm and relax the body. When you watch him breathe, you can easily tell that this method works! I think figuring out the breath is key to consistency and success.
  5. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    There are several great approaches to sight reading, but I think the one that works the best (for me,anyway) is to learn your scales and arpeggios. Really know them. Know them well enough that you could be woken out of a deep sleep and play an F# major scale, 2 octaves, with 3rds and 4ths, and the major, minor, dom.7 min. 7 arpeggios in root, 1st 2nd and 3rd inversions, ascending and descending. They need to be instinctive.

    Most of what we play is based on scales. Knowing them at that level adds that vocabulary to your toolbox so you can pull it out when you need it.

    The other issue in sight reading is rhythm. And not so much notes, but rather rests. It's not when we play, usually, but when silences are thrown in that we get fouled up. Be sure to work out rhythms subdividing to the smallest note value in the example. (For example, if the example contains no smaller than 1/8 notes, work out for music in 2's by dividing the beat in 2 parts; triplets is music with the beat in 3 parts; 16ths in 4 parts etc). Sing, sing, sing. (Not a reference to the great Benny Goodman tune, but a process). Sing the example bith silently and aloud. Sing it and do the fingerings. That way, you've practiced it several times through before the adjudicator says it's time to read the example. Most people I see in solo festival fail to do this and just blindly launch themselves into it and mess themselves up pretty good as a result. I think it's because they a. feel awkward with the silence in the room and b. want to get it over with. TAKE YOUR TIME. It's ok to study the example long enough that the adjudicator asks you to play it.

    I suspect your nerves are mostly related to your sight reading issues. Go over this several times with freinds and teachers before your college audition. Have them put random pieces in front of you. Maybe even have them write something by following certain requirements.

    There is a post in Manny's forum on the thread called "Stage fright" by Vulgano Brother. Check it out.
  6. Double_G

    Double_G Pianissimo User

    May 4, 2005
    Gordonsville, TN
    Thanks for the advice so far guys.
  7. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit

    The advice Glenn gave us is golden and if used will pay divendends...!

    Get tight on those fundementals and the rest will come in time.

    We all have nerves; the trick is to switch it from fear to excitement and then keep it controlled.
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    On important days, I make sure that I eat before I play. As a rule: Pasta. Not too much. I am much more relaxed afterwards and never get sleepy.
    The second rule is to always completely exhale before inhaling for the first note. Push all of that "bad" air out, fill up with fresh air and go for it.

    Tension and panic build - they do not start at 100%. You need to look what happens to get you started. Don't try to eliminate from the 100% side - get the roots first (for instance if under pressure you first have trouble with notes not speaking, the exhale/inhale system will help). Make sure you have all breathing points marked - and that you stick to them. Nothing can screw you up faster than getting your air out of sync!
  9. Annie

    Annie Piano User

    Nov 13, 2003
    As far as getting used to auditioning, the best thing is to just audition for everything and anything - sooner or later you will get very used to it. Also, practice practice practice practice before the audition so that you know the music so well that there isn't a shadow of a doubt in your mind that you can play the piece.

    A good thing to do to practice auditioning is to find some people to act as your 'judges' and do a few mock auditions.

    Good luck! Also, if it's nearby, you should check out Frostburg State University. We've got an AWESOME trumpet teacher, Steve McKnight, and a growing music program. If you have any questions, just PM me.
  10. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    Double G,

    In his article entitled Notes on Practicing, Chris Gekker comments on the audition process:

    He says, “Experience will be necessary for most people to reach their potential, but I believe that the physical intensity involved is a big part of the problem. Many trumpeters start off well, but fade quickly after a few minutes; others get off to a slow start and lack the stamina to hang in there and recover. This can be solved by avoiding only long, moderately paced practice sessions where almost all the playing is at "practice room mezzo forte." Starting a few weeks before the audition or jury, include 4-5 very, very tough 10-minute sessions a week, drilling the required material at a pace that will make the audition itself a relatively relaxed experience.â€

    I've taken four professional orchestral auditions in my life. In the first two, I experienced exactly what you described in your message (i.e. playing well below my capabilities due to excessive nerves). When I auditioned for the Phoenix Symphony several years ago, I had two very helpful suggestions that allowed me to observe my nervous energy and not allow it to progress to something more harmful.

    The first suggestion was to read the book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within. Kenny Werner has so many wonderful suggestions in this book, I will simply offer that his suggestion to "observe" these thoughts and let them go made a world of difference to me.

    The second suggestion was from my instructor. He told me that our minds want to be active, and will look for anything to latch on to just before an "audition". He said if you give the mind something tangible and "positive" to work on, the nervous energy will remain in check (apparently he picked this up from one of the BSO trombone players who says a mantra before auditions - "Pitch and Rhythm, Pitch and Rhythm"). Since I was playing the 1st Movement of the Hummel, I continually sang the 1st phrase in my mind once I arrived at the stage door (my instructor's reasoning was, why say words, when you can really focus on Pitch and Rhythm and the musical content all in one). This worked wonders! My mind was very happy to have something to work on, and my nervous energy never got out of hand. Consequently, I played one of the best auditions of my life!

    I can’t stress that last paragraph enough:

    • Sing your music in your mind as loudly as you can just before your audition. If you hear words of doubt in your mind, or words or suggestions of any kind, drown them out with the music that you have thoroughly prepared. This will keep your mind busy, and happily focused on being part of the audition, but in a positive way.

    I wrote a post on My Audition Perspective. I hope this will give you some tangible ways to work on this aspect of your playing before your next audition.

    For longer term suggestions on practicing your sight reading, try this post.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2006

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