Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Auditions: the notes before the notes

Yesterday, I was behind the screen for the Augusta Symphony bass trombone auditions. 7 people showed up and we ended up with one winner and 6 disappointed people.

One quick observation from this experience...think about those notes you play before the first official notes of your audition.

  1. Ask before you go on stage, "Are we allowed to play warm-up notes?"
  2. If you do play any notes, keep it to 10 seconds or less.
  3. Make sure anything you do has a clear purpose (mostly to test the acoustics of the hall)
  4. Decide in advance what you will play; don't just doodle. Perhaps you can have a 5-10 second routine that you always do to check the space and make sure everything is working.
  5. Avoid glisses; other committee members might not look kindly upon this (however, I don't think this was the case yesterday).
  6. Include a few articulated notes to listen for the amount of echo you'll be working with.
  7. Most importantly: SOUND GOOD. You may think these notes are for you but they are listening and, whether or not you like it, you are making your first impression.
Imagine the committee sitting behind the screen as someone comes out to play.

First of all, they don't know when you are going to start. They may be sliding papers around or whispering to someone. If you start to play some warm-up notes and sound uncertain or if you seem to go on forever for no apparent reason, you will have strikes against you before the first excerpt has even begun.

Conversely, if you play just a few notes with a great sound, the inevitable effect on most committee members will be, "OK, here is someone who has potential."