Tips for Auditions
Auditions vs. Festival Performance
Unlike a performance at a WSMA Music Festival, the outcome of an audition often involves additional recognition or placement in a music organization. Auditions are usually required for state and national Honors organizations, summer music camps, acceptance in a collegiate music performing ensemble or department, or chair placement. Proper preparation for an audition requires many of the same steps as preparing for a WSMA Music Festival with these additional guidelines:
Audition Performance Goals
A successful audition performance demonstrates accomplishment of technical skills and musical artistry which goes well beyond the dynamics on the printed page. The three simple steps to achieving this goal are:
- Practice Slowly
- Work on difficult passages using a metronome. Increase speed only when you have comfortably mastered all musical elements at slower tempos.
- Practice Often
- There is no substitute for practicing. Perform for others before your audition. Tape record your performances, and invite others to critique you.
- Perform with Confidence
- Your audition selections should be performed with emotion and confidence. Put yourself in the music, and practice communicating with your audience as you master the technical aspects of your music.
Most auditions require performers to sight-read. Practice sight-reading at least once per week. Read through unfamiliar pieces of music. Before you sight-read, check your music for the following musical elements using the STARS* acronym:
S – Sharps or flats in the key signature
T – Time signature and tempo markings (text, if you’re singing lyrics)
A – Accidentals and Articulations (bowings, accents)
R – Rhythm (isolate difficult rhythm passages, and subdivide them)
S – Signs (dynamics, DC al Fine, repeats, changing meters or tempos, etc.)
*STARS acronym is from Essential Elements Comprehensive Band Method. Copyright Hal Leonard Corporation Milwaukee, WI All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Memorize all required major, minor, chromatic, and/or modal scales. Be prepared to perform as many octaves as possible in even tempos using the correct articulation pattern, if any were provided in the audition requirements.
Be sure you ask for proper coaching on language pronunciations, style, and phrasing. Always warm-up carefully before the audition.
At Least Three Months Before the Audition
- Complete the audition application and turn it in by the deadline.
- Get your own copy of the audition requirements.
- Carefully review the audition requirements, and ask your teacher to clarify any questions you might have.
- Obtain copies of all music for your audition.
- Write down a realistic practice schedule. Remember your other commitments (co-curricular activities, sports, work, etc.) Get in the habit of practicing all of your audition requirements (scales, etude, solo, sight-reading, etc.) every day.
- If needed, find an accompanist.
- Schedule several lessons with your music teacher before the audition.
One Month Before Your Audition
- Record your performances often, and evaluate your performance. Invite others to hear you perform, and use a critique form like the one found in the WSMA Handbook.
- Ask your music teacher for assistance.
- Practice with your accompanist, if one is required for your audition
- Keep practicing scales, sight-reading, vocalizing, and other audition requirements.
- Clean your instrument, and be sure it is in excellent working condition.
The Day Before the Audition
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Drink plenty of water.
- This is a special day, so dress appropriately – no jeans, T-shirts, or hats.
- Arrive in plenty of time to find the warm-up area and your audition room.
- Warm-up the way you’ve been taught to warm-up. Don’t imitate others, or be intimidated by different warm-up sounds you’ll hear in the warm-up room.
- Arrive to your audition room at least 10 minutes before your scheduled time. Check with others to see if the judge is on schedule.
In the Audition Room
- Smile when you give the judge your music and/or evaluation forms.
- Take the time to collect your thoughts before your performance.
- This is your time to show the judge what you can do. If mistakes happen, simply continue and strive for an even better performance.
When the Audition is Over
- Listen carefully to any constructive comments the judge may give you.
- Thank the judge for evaluating your performance.
You took the initiative to audition, and you followed through with your commitment.
Be proud of what you’ve accomplished because you gave your best to your audition performance.