As winter break closes and the next term of classes opens, many turn their attention to auditions. College, graduate school, and music festival auditions abound this time of year. Let me offer advice and insight from the mysterious other side:
Perfection is Subjective. This field demands perfection. Aim for cleanliness, clarity, consistency, and confidence; however, know that perfection in music is subjective. Those open to learning, changing, and to hearing constructive criticism will have the most success at auditions.
Mentorship is Key. Never has our field been more global. The best orchestral bassoonists of our age can exchange messages with high-schoolers via Facebook. Professors at major universities know YOUR name because of Twitter! As you audition at multiple places, know your personality and your goals (short-term or long-term), and find a teacher that helps you reach your fullest potential.
Never Underestimate Professionalism. To Err is human? Well, err on the side of professionalism. Always dress professionally for auditions. Always record in the best venue with the best equipment possible. Always include a program (track listing) with recordings. Ensure this “program” is well designed. Always treat emails like formal letters: include a salutation and signature, proofread, and spell-check. Always research schools/festivals/teachers for whom you are auditioning.
Be prepared. This seems obvious, but do not take an audition for granted. Even if you are auditioning for a “Safety School,” a festival you have attended in the past, or graduate study at the school you are already attending – Be prepared. It shows respect for the teachers, the institution, and you.
Happy practicing … and happy auditions!