Preparing for your audition – part 2

We previously posted some ideas on preparing for your auditions.  Here are some more suggestions to help you get ready for a great audition.

Use visualization & mental rehearsal.  Creating positive mental images of an event like an audition can be a powerful preparation technique.  Imagine yourself walking into the audition room, greeting those who will hear your audition, and performing each selection in order with musicality and precision.  The goal here is to imagine the performance exactly as you would like it to go. The more detailed your mental picture is, the more it can help you to perform at your full potential. Doing this well requires discipline just like any form of practice.  You can also use mental practice time away from your instrument to help avoid overuse injuries, and to make the most of spare moments that would otherwise be wasted (waiting in line, etc.)

Practice being nervous.   You can do this by performing your audition in a variety of situations, especially ones put you under a bit of pressure.  Even if you don’t feel quite ready yet, set up a time to perform your pieces for a group of friends.  Schedule another run- though for someone you don’t know as well, but whose playing you admire.  Let your listeners know what kinds of feedback you are looking for (musicality, stage presence, rhythmic accuracy, etc.) At least one of these “mock auditions” should be performed in the same clothes you plan to wear at the audition, so that you can test them for comfort.

Another method to simulate the effects of performing under pressure is to jog up and down a flight of stairs before playing or singing though your audition rep.  This will elevate your heart rate, and make you a little bit short of breath.  Also try playing through your audition rep with minimal warm-up time in a room that is slightly cold. Create a variety of these mildly stressful situations for yourself, and then pay close attention to how you react in the moment. Some nervousness is to be expected at an audition, but you’ll be better prepared for a reaction like dry mouth or sweaty palms if you know to expect it and know how it will affect your playing. Demonstrate to yourself that these physical factors are manageable, and that they won’t throw you off.  Also, the more you practice performing under stressful situations, the less nervous you are likely to feel when your audition day arrives.

Keep in mind: everyone wants you to perform your best.  The faculty members listening to your audition know what it is like to perform under pressure, and nothing would make them happier than to hear you play your best. Don’t be fooled into thinking that an audition is an adversarial situation where you are being harshly judged.  Instead, approach it as an opportunity to challenge yourself and to learn something new that you can use in your next performance. At Eastman, faculty members often mention that they are looking for applicants who are eager to learn, and who have the potential to develop into great musicians.

Remember that schools are also “auditioning” for you.  During your audition day and other college visits, keep in mind that you are looking for the school that feels right to you.  Does the school you are visiting offer the types of opportunities and atmosphere that you are seeking?  Don’t focus so narrowly on the question of “can I get in here?” that you neglect to ask yourself “is this a place where I can develop my talents?”

We hope these suggestions will be helpful as you prepare for your upcoming auditions.  Do you have any tips or resources to share?  If so, please use the comment section below.  We are looking forward to hearing you!

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6 Responses to Preparing for your audition – part 2

  1. Christina Crispin says:

    Thanks James, I hope you find it helpful. I learned that trick from some great teachers when preparing for orchestral auditions, but I see no reason it wouldn’t work equally well for jazz auditions.

  2. James Davis says:

    The flight of stairs trick is awesome. Will definitely be doing that. Thanks!

  3. Christina Crispin says:

    Great advice, Stephan. Thanks!

  4. Stephan Hernandez says:

    You may also find it helpful and reassuring if you do a mental revision of the repertoire you are going to perform. For example , singers should know there rep in terms of pitch accuracy, rhythm and stylistic markings without the accompaniment. For me personal I find going through the song in my mind humming it lightly paying close attention to the areas that may have a shift in pitch maybe major to minor or any other difficult part helps. I think if you can sing the material without accompaniment relying on your internal pitch it helps increase confidence in the piece and also helps train your ear. Many times as young singers we rely on the accompaniment to much to help or guide us through a piece, by doing this exercise it cuts that dependence down and increases our own confidence in our ability to perform the piece. Always taking to mind the pieces that would show our true depth of artistry are the pieces we know like the back of our hands.We can’t truly emote a song as it should be if we are still struggling with the pitch and other technical aspects.

    Hope it helps someone ! Good luck to you all! Peace and love from Trinidad!!

  5. Christina Crispin says:

    Thanks for your commment, David! I’m glad you are finding these posts useful. If you ever have a question you’d prefer to discuss in person we are happy to hear from you by phone too.

  6. Thank you! As a “jazzer” getting my undergrad at Eastman studying classical music was tough enough – now going back to get my teaching degree it has been quite stressful training my mind to be confident realizing the faculty wants you to play your best and are not there to point out your mistakes. I also can sympathize with the comment on “know the changes” If I could only audition a jazz piece OH how my mind would be at ease hahaha, Since today it’s hard to get anyone on the phone, I don’t think I’ve spoken to one person besides email, so this is comforting, thanks again. Cheers!