As my daughter is preparing for a cello scholarship audition and my piano students are preparing for the Piano Guild auditions this weekend, I am reminded of how nerve-racking the audition process can be. Playing in front of people can be intimidating enough, but knowing that you are being judged by the people you are playing for can make the whole process even worse. So, here are a few tips for facing that dreaded audition with confidence:
1. Practice, Practice, Practice. Know your music inside and out. This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people think they can 'wing it' on audition day. As you practice, you want to know the starting points of different sections of music so that if you have a memory lapse, you can simply move on to the next section. This tip is especially helpful for pianists and singers who are most likely to be required to memorize their audition music.
2. Choose a Song You Can Perform Well. If you have to choose between a difficult song you play just so-so and a slightly simpler song that you can play exceptionally - go with the simpler song. Judges are listening for interpretation, articulation, tone color and a whole host of technical details and they would much rather hear a song that you can execute flawlessly than to hear you stumble through passages of a more challenging song.
3. Arrive 15 Minutes Early On Audition Day. 15 minutes gives you enough time to sign in, tune, warm up and relax a little. Arriving more than 15 -20 minutes early will mean that you will have time to start listening to and comparing yourself to other auditioners - not a good idea!
4. Be Confident! Walk into the audition room with your head held high, if you are spoken to, speak to the judges with a clear voice (some auditions are blind auditions where the judges do not see or speak to those who are playing), do exactly what you've been told to do and do it with confidence!
Of course, even when you are completely prepared and you feel confident about auditioning, things can go wrong: nerves can cause you to be timid with your bowing, have a shaky voice or to suddenly forget everything you've been working so hard on (when I was younger, my right foot, the pedaling foot, would always shake like crazy whenever I performed in public!). The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. Audition every chance you get. Audition for local music club scholarships, perform in MENC solo and ensemble competitions, Piano Guild, talent shows....the more you audition, the more comfortable you will be with the process and every time you audition you are building a more confident performer!