Auditioning for a college band or orchestra can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. Knowing what to expect will help you relax and perform better. To help you with your music auditions, The Woodwind & Brasswind offers these suggestions.
Be sure to ask the schools in which you are interested to give you as much about their auditions as they can long before audition season. Music auditions vary widely from school to school, and the more you know about what will be expected of you, the better prepared you'll be to perform at your peak.
If you have a choice about which pieces to play, choose a piece that you enjoy playing; it will show. Take advantage of video and audio recording to capture your rehearsals and use them to honestly critique yourself and improve your performance before the audition. Practice, practice, practice—don't cram!
When selecting your repertoire, err on the side of sounding better. If you have a choice between selecting a more difficult piece with some stumbling blocks, or an easier one that you can play perfectly, choose the one at which you're more adept. You want to sound your best and offer as error-free a presentation as you can.
Musicians, like all successful college applicants, succeed by applying to several schools. Ensure you will get in by applying not only where you are sure of being accepted, but also where you are less confident of being accepted but still interested in attending, and finally where you risk not being accepted, but would be thrilled to attend.
Take some time to get familiar with the instructors at the schools in which you are interested. You'll want to know about their general philosophies and teaching styles to determine if they match your preferences.
Correspond with several teachers at different schools before you even decide where to audition. You want to be sure that your efforts result in placement at a school where not only the music program suits you, but where you will also have instructors with whom you can work constructively. You'll want to be confident that you will be placed with a teacher who teaches in a style that works with your style of learning.
If you'll be bringing your own instrument, make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Bring spare parts and accessories like reeds, strings, rosin, etc. Take care of yourself as well. Eat nutritiously and not to excess, exercise and get plenty of rest before your audition. Consider arriving a day or two ahead of time to get acclimated and reduce the effects of jet lag or travel fatigue.
Be aware that on the day of the audition there will usually be surprises—good or bad—and allow for the fact that you may need to adapt and improvise.
If you know in advance how the audition is set up, you'll be better prepared to perform at your best. For example you may be asked to stop before you complete your piece, or asked to respond to unexpected questions from panel members. Room conditions may not be ideal—too hot, too cold, or too noisy. This would be a good time to mention that you'll want to know where the bathrooms are located, just in case.
Remember that you're there to express yourself through your music, and you're not expected to be perfect. You're a student after all, and the school is seeking pupils they can teach and whose craft they can help develop. Prepare and do the best you can.
Finally, when it's over be sure to thank the audition staff and stay in touch with the schools in which you are interested. Thank you notes are always acceptable.