Audition Prep

This is an article I wrote a few months ago about audition preparation. It was originally posted on, a website that hosts online lessons. I also teach lessons through this site. Enjoy!

It’s time for your first audition. You’ve got chair placement tests next week. All-State auditions are coming up in two months. With all of these new experiences come new expectations. Expectations of teachers, parents, and probably even yourself. You’re already anticipating the sweaty palms, urgent need to use the restroom, and the possibility of hyperventilating. If you’re like most of the world, just thinking about auditions causes your nerves to start acting up. Fear not, dear musician, for anyone can get over these fears! Here are seven tips that can help you combat nerves and ace your next audition.

  1. Prepare your music. This may seem like a no-brainer, but let’s get down into the nitty-gritty of what good preparation really means. First of all, you must practice. No one can waltz into an audition without practicing, and still do well. Start your practice at a slow tempo – one where you can play the correct notes, the correct rhythms, and the appropriate dynamics. Slowly speed up your tempo until you’re at the written tempo of the piece or excerpt. Daily practice is important, because when it comes to auditions, over-preparation is key. Knowing the the piece backwards and forwards is great, but when nerves kick in the day-of, muscle memory will be your best friend.

  2. Listen to recordings. Many pieces and excerpts are on YouTube, and I highly suggest you check them out. In addition, check iTunes and your local library to see what you can find in the way of recordings. Listening to pieces helps you find inspiration for musicality, shows you when you’re playing a rhythm incorrectly, and helps you see the overarching direction of the music. If you can’t find a recording, bring the music to your teacher and ask them to record themselves playing it for you.

  3. Record yourself. Record yourself running through your piece. You’ll be better able to hear intonation issues, or areas that need technical work, and then you can fix them.

  4. Play for people. Run through your audition for your family, your friends, your teacher, or your stuffed animal audience. The more you perform before the audition, the easier the actual audition will be.

  5. Visualize a successful audition. Close your eyes and picture yourself walking into the audition. Breathe deeply and calmly. You play through your pieces successfully, and walk out with your held high, happy with your performance. Believing in yourself and seeing success is a huge step in achieving success.

  6. Take care of your body. Keep yourself hydrated and get plenty of sleep the week of (and especially the night before!) the audition.

  7. Have fun! Once you get to the day of the audition, do your best to try to relax. The hard work is over and now is your time to show the audition committee, or your band director, what you’ve achieved. Enjoy the music. Play your heart out. Know that whatever the outcome, you prepared well, and did your best.

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