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The Audition Process (My Perspective) - Very Long


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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

George,

As I mentioned in the Lounge, here is the post that I submitted to TPIN last month just after my audition for the Phoenix Symphony. This should give you a very good picture about how I dealt with the nervous energy leading up to that performance situation. If at all possible, see if you can get to the stadium early to get a feeling for how you will sound with a PA system. Again, best of luck performing the National Anthem to a big crowd!


TPIN Post------------------------------------------

I woke up well before the alarm yesterday with the nervous energy that comes with anticipation of a big event. I knew that we needed eggs for breakfast, so I had planned an early outing to the supermarket to help me relax. This was also a good chance for me to start listening to some music. When I returned home I worked through the first 6 exercises in the Jim Thompson Buzzing Basics book. This has been such a marvelous way to begin each playing day for me. And as always, right on track, my resonant sound developed very easily while playing through these exercises.

My instructor suggested that I keep a journal of my activities for the day so that I could look back on the things that went well as well as the areas that I could improve upon the next time. I'm glad that I chose to take his advice.

My Wife had fixed eggs and bacon for breakfast, and it was a relaxing meal with my family (or as relaxed as it can be with 3 boy’s 4 years and under!). Then I got cleaned up and dressed for the day.

Since my audition block was at 11 AM, I began my warm-up at 9 AM at home. I have an interesting composite warm-up that I have found very effective for me. I start with some Bill Adam leadpipe buzzing. Then I do a variation of the Caruso 6-note exercise (using the Bob Findley alteration - slightly different rhythm and all breath attacks). After this I play through the Remington exercises (yes a trombone warm-up), which I have found really allows me to focus my air and find the right balance for a resonant oral cavity (lots of flexibility exercises). All of this was very consistent, and there were no surprises. Exactly what I have come to expect with my warm-up.

After warming up, I put together a "snack" to take with me in my lunch bag (some graham crackers, two pears, and a bottle of water). I chose to listen to the Montreal recording of Petrouchka on the drive to Symphony Hall. At this point, I had lots of thoughts racing through my mind. My instructor had told me that if I could just find a way to channel this energy into the music, it shouldn't be a problem for me. Well, the drive to Symphony Hall at 9:40 AM is about 20 minutes, so I had a chance to understand what he was talking about.

My "best friends" during this whole process of preparation have been the CDs that I have been listening to. So, instead of having thoughts in my head like, "Just relax. It's going to be great. Breathe. Don't get nervous", I was just enjoying time with a good friend (Petrouchka). These disks had been with me from day one of this whole process. I had trained my mind to really focus on the music. Not just the trumpet parts, but the musical message that, in this case, Stravinsky has created for all to enjoy. There is such a "groove" to this music. It's really quite powerful.

Of course I still had many thoughts swirling through my head. I pass right by one of the buildings that our Honeywell Product Safety & Integrity group works in, and my thoughts went to a certification document that I had just received back from this group on Wednesday. But, I have recently read the Effortless Mastery book by Kenny Werner, and I simply "observed" this thought in my mind. I acknowledged that it was there, spent several seconds to review it, and then let it go as I continued to listen to my disk. This is the exit that I take off of I-10 (Washington) that takes me to downtown Phoenix. Many more thoughts come and go at this point (all my trips to symphony hall to hear concerts, trips with my family to the Arizona Science Center and the Bank One Ballpark, and special thoughts like meeting Doc Severensen back stage during a rehearsal many years ago). I see the looming skyline get closer and closer.

After I parked my vehicle and took the escalator up to the courtyard level, I could hear the bells at St. Mary's Basilica ringing (a standard church hymn) and I thought of all the jobs that I had played there. The very impressive Hyatt was right in front of me with the Compass Room restaurant on top as I walked toward Symphony Hall, and again, thoughts raced through my mind, this time of "desserts" with friends after concerts in the Compass Room.

When I stepped through the stage door at about 10:15 AM I can only imagine that this is what the Indiana University practice rooms must have sounded like when Bill Adam was there (based on what I have read on TPIN). Quite an awesome display (and honestly one that I had forgotten about - it's been 6 years since my last audition). The higher, faster, louder mentality is even present at auditions (leading to many more thoughts).

I ended up in Room 6 (although I'm certain that there were at least a dozen rooms), and I was at the end of the hall, farthest from the "On-Deck" room and the stage. After I had been in the room for quite a long time, the person organizing the audition came by with a number for me to draw. They do a "lottery" for each hour of the auditions. I chose the second to the last time slot for the hour. He told me that number 5 was on deck, and I was number 8. Up until he came into the room I hadn't even taken my horn out of the case. I just listened to my music, and tried to block out all of the other "noise".

At this point I played a few notes to find my center, and then started reviewing my notebook. I had heard players running through the scales in Don Juan, so I also went through these. The guy that was right beside me had apparently chosen the number just before mine and I had to endure his constant playing. He literally played solid from 10:20 - 11:15. And it was some very impressive playing too! However, at about 11:05 I could start to tell that he had played his best for me! He started running through the dance in Petrouchka and I could tell that he was done before he even made it to the "On Deck" room. What a shame, as he was obviously very competent technically. I should have taken more notice of this “detail”, as it would prove to be important later.

When I heard the knock on my door, I already was packed up and ready to go. I walked down to the on-deck room and listened to the instructions that he gave me. This was my first opportunity to see what I would be playing. There was a stand in the room with a notebook that contained the clearly marked parts (heavy black brackets) around each excerpt. He told me about several “changes” to the list and said that he would be back in about 10 to 12 minutes. I quickly soaked in what I would be playing [1st Movement of the Hummel, Opening to Mahler 5, Petrouchka (Ballerina's Dance and Waltz), Ravel Piano Concerto (1st page only), Don Juan (1st page solo and scales on page 2), Parsifal, and Ein Heldenleben Eb (2nd page)].

I was shocked when I heard the knock on the door. I had literally just taken my horn out to run through the Don Juan scales, when it was my turn (no more than 5 minutes). The player in front of me probably played part of his solo and the Mahler before they said "Thank you". So I packed up my stuff, and headed to the door to the stage. I received some more instructions (basically they said don't talk when on stage).

I walked through the dark backstage area and then through a door to the main stage area. What a sight! There was a sea of red velvet staring back at me (all of the red velvet seats in the hall were in the “up” position). There was a large black screen about 15 rows up that the committee was sitting behind. I took out my horn, put my solo on the stand, and then I started my mini disk player (I wanted to hear exactly what they were going to hear!). I played a few notes to hear my sound in the hall and then I began my solo. A chipped note on the first triplet. But that was my only problem. The time was good; intonation was good, musicality and style felt great. It was really a good snapshot of my playing (my first goal was accomplished!). Then I began Mahler 5 (not one of my strongest excerpts). I felt that the first triplet was a little slow. The next one was better. Pacing was also pretty good. The line continues up to a printed B for Bb trumpet, and all was really going pretty well, then I found that the opening C# had been a little too high. While I didn't crack the top note, I could clearly hear that it was centering below the pitch. I ended well (and that was one of my best takes of this excerpt). Petrouchka was one of my best excerpts, and it showed. My time was good, and with the exception of a weird response issue on one note, everything felt good. On the waltz I chipped the high Bb, but I felt pretty good about it. And then the committee thanked me and my audition was over. 6 minutes and 10 seconds (from the timer on the MD recorder).

I left the stage and waited for the last candidate in the 11 AM hour to play. I had a nice conversation with the guard outside the stage door, and then an arranger/composer from LA who was meeting with the conductor separate from the audition process that was going on. This guy was a former trumpet player who studied with Caruso and told me that he had written/arranged for Gary Grant, Malcomb McNabb, Uan Rasey, Chuck Findley, etc. It was a very interesting way to spend my waiting time. Then the person running the audition told all of us from the 11 AM hour to come in and we were told that no one advanced from our time block.

I knew what the result was going to be when I went back through the stage door, but for me, my journey of the pursuit of a great orchestral audition had just begun. I have learned so much in this past 8 weeks (much more that I am interested to share), and I know that I am finally on track for success.

6 years ago, my chops were so sore after preparing a 2nd trumpet audition, that I was just glad to be done with the process. But today, and everyday of this past 8 weeks, I have NEVER been sore. I attribute this to all that I have learned and explored through my many conversations here on TPIN, as well as my own investigation into the areas of my own playing that were holding me back (Resonant Sound). Armed with these answers, it has just been a pleasure working up this list.

With the momentum that I have built up, I have decided to also take the upcoming audition for 3rd trumpet with the Tucson Symphony in September. I really feel like only my solo and Petrouchka were ready to "take out of the oven" for this audition. The others need to bake for a while longer. But I know that they contain all the right ingredients!

I'm looking forward to my instructor's critique of my audition "via mini disk" next week.


Thanks for living through this with me!


Derek Reaban
Tempe, Arizona

FYI,

The committee selected Emery Harvison (the 2nd trumpet in PSO) to cover the duties of Principal Trumpet next season (a former ASU grad).

The finals included:
Solo
Pictures (Opening and Schmuyle)
Petrouchka (Dance and Waltz)
A lick from Heldenleben (Bb)
All of the Posthorn solo
A lick from Bourgoise Gentilhomme
Some high stuff from Bartok concerto
Gershwin piano concerto
Beethoven 9 (main theme)
and some other things.



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[ This Message was edited by: Derek Reaban on 2003-07-22 15:37 ]
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_Don Herman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2003 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing, Derek. Audition ave always been my achilles' heel. Solos I generally do OK on, though playing solo to the quiet late service crowd on Sunday makes me nervous. Auditions -- woof, choke, *&@:__splat! Anbody remember Bill the Cat? Then's the sounds...

Congratulations -- sounds like you did well! - Don
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trombapaul2
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2003 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhhh,yes...Bill the Cat always said it best..."Oop, Oop, Aackk, Phllbbbttt".

Thanks Derek. It's always good and interesting to hear of other players'
experiences and perspectives from professional symphonic auditions. I
waited until I was 38 before taking my first pro audition (Chicago of all places).
The first time you walk onto the stage and look out into the hall, it DOES give
you chills. However, what always gets me is the first few notes coming back
to the stage from the hall. When I hear that sound coming from ME, I'm
immediately reminded why I'm there and how much I want to play in a
symphony orchestra. I've been fortunate to have made it to semis, and even
finals once, in the past couple of years so, now I'm even more convinced I'm
not wasting my time and my level of determination is higher than ever before.

I have to go practice now!!

Paul

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[ This Message was edited by: trombapaul2 on 2003-07-23 12:21 ]
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riffdawg2000
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was GREAT! Thanks for allowing all of us into the world of professional auditions!
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pitchlevel
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

really nice post derek, thanks. so if they chose the 2nd player to act as principal, did they offer a runner up the 2nd position for one year? or is there going to be another audition? or theyre just gonna sub out the whole season?
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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pitchlevel,

My understanding is that John Marchiando (a graduate student at ASU) will be covering the duties of 2nd trumpet in the PSO for the next season. I had the pleasure of hearing John perform "Two Portraits" by Joseph Turrin during an ASU Trumpet Ensemble performance recently. This was the program that David Hickman took to the ITG Conference this year. His sound was fantastic, his interpretation was inspired, and he had rock solid consistency. He will do a great job in the 2nd trumpet chair! I understand that he has advanced to the finals in several recent auditions with the LA Philharmonic, so he clearly is a great choice for the position.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article!
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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trombapaul2,

You Wrote:
> I waited until I was 38 before taking my first pro audition (Chicago of all places).

Wow! A first audition with the CSO! That's amazing.

My instructor has told me many stories about CSO auditions. I believe that the first time he auditioned there, he had not heard about the "elevator guy". He told me that going from the practice room area up to the stage you have to ride in a very small elevator and the operator gives you a shopping list of "Dos" and "Don'ts" just before you walk out on to the stage. When he told me about this experience I imagined a drill sergeant barking out commands! Needless to say, his first CSO audition wasn't his best. However, he's been back many times with much better results!

You also Wrote:
> However, what always gets me is the first few notes coming back to the stage from the hall. When I hear that sound coming from ME, I'm immediately reminded why I'm there and how much I want to play in a symphony orchestra.

I really like the way you described this. It was quite a feeling experiencing my own sound in a really big hall and thinking, "Hey! This guy sounds pretty good!". I wish you the best of luck with your future audition experiences.
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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joel,

I'm just glad that I had the opportunity to get out there and be a part of the audition process, work up a great audition, and then was able to put my thoughts into words. I'm glad you enjoyed my post!
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trombapaul2
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Derek,

The "elevator guy" is actually very nice. He's not giving orders, he's making
suggestions probably to calm people down before they walk out and feel like:

OH MY GOD!!! I'M ON THE STAGE AT SYMPHONY CENTER AND I'VE GOT 5
MINUTES TO CONVINCE 9 MYSTERY PEOPLE (I'M SURE ONE OF THEM IS BUD)
THAT I'M THE RIGHT PLAYER FOR THE JOB!!!! AAUUUUGH!!!

As for my first time out, I was doing great. Made it 7 excerpts into the 9 excerpt
list for prelims for the 4th spot. Shot myself in the foot by getting lost in my own
sound and not concentrating during the Ballerina's Dance. I actually repeated 4
measures where there was NO REPEAT indicated. I vividly remember thinking while
I was playing "WOW!! What a sight! What a sound!! I could get used to playing in this...
WHAT THE H*LL DID I JUST PLAY???". The prompter (I'm pretty sure it was John Hagstrom) was very encouraging saying he thought "I might get called back. You
never know what they're listening for". Alas...no call back for semis. If nothing else,
I learned to remain focused!!! As I left the stage, it was all I could do to keep from
laughing out loud in disbelief. No anger. No remorse. Just disbelief.

Best to you also.

Paul
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riffdawg2000
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Derek -

No problem .... I am probably like many others here ... wish we had the time ... and the core TALENT to do what you did and are doing!


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trumpetplayer87
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh my! My audition for district band coming up in Nov. seems like nothing. lol. What a vivid synopsis of your audition...I almost felt nervous...as if I was doing the audition.


Bonnie
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AverageJoe
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Derek,

This is a great post -- THANK YOU!!

I recently decided to jump off the boat and swim for awhile myself. After missing the age cutoff for joining the military band programs last week (long story), I have decided to budget some time and start shedding for my first orchestral audition. I have a masters, but I never went whole-heartedly down the orchestral path...always tried to make myself versatile. It is good to get a vivid picture of what I am getting ready to undertake.

THANKS AGAIN for being so candid!

Paul Poovey
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PC
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Derek,

Thanks for sharing! This reminds me my foolish days when I auditioned for the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Phil, making decent auditions but certainly not as well prepared as you did.

What a kick to stand in the first round across the room from Zubin Mehta (no screens, no ceremony, shake hands and play while the other candidates look on - while in the Jerusalem Symph the whole screen/unknown committee game was respected), charging ahead with Mahler 5 and getting compliments! And knowing they were meant, as Mehta did not put gloves being polite: playing Pictures on picc, he stopped me and furiously made me repeat with the correct rhythm (mark the difference between sixteenth after dotted eighth and ensuing triplet, even though my teacher had me work on exactly this aspect again and again). Mehta also made comments on the Russian immigrants freshly arrived in Israel even before they auditioned, saying that judging by their warm-up it was evident they did not have the right sound for the job.

Still, I did not get the position and rightly so, since my friend Yigal Melzer got it and worked his way from 4th to principal!

As for your comments on the guys working themselves lifeless in practice before the real thing, how true! How many times have I heard unbelievable trumpet-, horn-, trombone- or as a matter of fact any other instrument playing fabulously behind the stage, to the limits of their instruments, only to fall flat on their faces in concert, sometimes in the simplest of passages! I try to emulate my teacher in Paris, the Belgian soloist Hervé Noël, who saves all the energy for the real thing (well OK, I can not resist the occasional squeak to impress the gallery before the concert, or some lightening double tongue passage, unknowingly (to the other brassers) rehearsed to perfection but played casually, looking tired and utterly bored like a real pro!!)

I wish I had the opprtunity and talent and energy to go through this process again (highly unlikely with my 2 kids and day job).

Pierre.

[ This Message was edited by: PC on 2003-08-05 07:13 ]
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trompetita
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really appreciated your post. Someday I hope to audition for the CSO too

I have auditions for ensembles and chair placements for college in a few weeks... I will pretend like I am auditioning for 9 guys behind a screen... man... I should not be nervous at all... I practically get to pick what I audition on!

Thanks again for this valuable insight.
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trumpetchops
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info. I am going on my first real audition soon. 44 years old!

What you talk about is what I'm expecting.
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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is extremely gratifying to see how many people have read my post and taken something positive from it, sharing past experiences and future performance/audition opportunities. I'm glad that my experience is representative of the experiences of others and has been helpful to those that have read it!

Bonnie,

Best of luck with your district band audition in November. Prepare well and focus on a key phrase to sing through in your mind before you play in front of the audition committee. This will give your mind something tangible focus on and help you to play your best!

Paul,

I'm very excited for you in your pursuit of an orchestral position! I have truly enjoyed the process of putting together my very best audition possible. I'm glad that seeing how the day of the big event went for me will help you in the future. I'm interested in spinning off an "audition preparation" topic from this post in the near future to share "how" I prepare, and to glean some insights from others to fine tune the overall process. It sounds like we will be able to have some good exchanges on this topic!

Pierre,
Wow! Playing for the Music Director and the other candidates in a big room for the first round, and Zubin Mehta at that! Bravo for playing so well! That must have felt great, and then to get a lesson during the audition. What a humbling experience.

I have 3 kids and a day job, and I've finally managed to develop a practice routine (incorporating great Time Management tools) that allows me to accomplish what I need to with a limited amount of practice time available to me. A great showing for the upcoming 3rd trumpet audition that I am planning on taking in September will validate my approach. I'm excited to get out there one more time!

trompetita,

I'm glad that my experience has been helpful to you. Best of luck with those college placement auditions!


trumpetchops,
I took an audition in 1994 and then in 1997 after studying privately for about 6 years with PSO players in Phoenix to immerse myself in the orchestral literature (I wasn't I music major in college). I was 26 and 29 for those auditions. Then at 36 I jumped into the mix again after a great deal of technical refining that required a great deal of personal reflection after my previous two efforts. What a great way to validate the improvements that I had made in my approach to the instrument through this audition! I admire you tremendously to throw you hat into the ring (at any age). Best of luck to you!



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[ This Message was edited by: Derek Reaban on 2003-08-11 01:42 ]
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smithwatkinsguy
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Derek,
AWESOME post - it just took me into such a visual of what you went through and just gave me chills and made me think of how I want to be in a professional orchestra so badly. Just makes me want to go practice Petrouchka right now! BTW, I have to play the Ballerina Dance and Waltz on my placement audition at Hartt come September 2nd, I've only played through it a few times but this audition packet will be my Bible until September 1st. I don't like to play too heavily the day before an audition, but at least this isn't my audition to get IN to hartt, man I was a wreck!!!!! Hindemith was my choice of solo - not too high for me and just a huge sound, which is characteristic of my playing, although it's such a blow for me...anyways, once again, thank you so much for that vivid post and even though it was indirect tips, I will take them and probably invest into that book you read and take up the Caruso exercises (I already have a few).
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6pk
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its fascinating listening to these perspectives, I'd like to offer mine, I've been fortunate enough to win a few big auditions, and my system has been very simple and straight forward. We all have a system that makes us play to our maximum..i.e. warm ups etc, well utilise that system on your audition day like anyother day of the week, for me the best thing is to make as little a deal out of it as possible. One must have the basic attitude that when you perform on your instrument it must be to near perfect as possible(without becoming a robot and losing all excitement) ALWAYS! anything less isnt good enough. Then if you always play to that level you won't need to raise your game for the audition and you won't be intimidated by the level there.

For me too many people learn how to audition (i've been accused of it!) but thats not correct, we must just learn how to play music. Obviously be intelligent, play to the accustic use it to your advantage.

Some great stuff form you guys by the way, I've taken a lot from it.


[ This Message was edited by: 6pk on 2003-08-12 07:55 ]
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trombapaul2
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote]
On 2003-08-12 07:52, 6pk wrote:

"Then if you always play to that level you won't need to raise your game for the audition and you won't be intimidated by the level there."

6pk,

That sentence NAILS how we, or any other performer, should approach the audition
process. There shouldn't need to be a raising of ones game. It should always be up there,
ready to go. That is also one of the hardest aspects of auditioning. Maintaining that
level, even when auditions are few and far between. It's all too easy to say "I don't
feel like playing Petrouchka today" but blow it off a couple of days and all of a sudden
you're playing catch-up to get back to where you need to be. It truly does boil down
to strong mental discipline.

I have to go practice some more now!!

Paul
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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have added a related topic titled "Audition Preparation" that I thought should be linked to this first topic.

http://www.trumpetherald.com/forum/viewtopic.php?topic=12070&forum=4

Enjoy!
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