I love this series from hella frisch where he relates tips from Cleveland Orchestra percussionist Tom Freer on preparing for, and surviving, an orchestral audition. This is a great resource for those on the audition trail, and an interesting read for the non-musician that is curious about what the heck this stuff is all about. Check them out:
My best results in the past for getting through auditions and recitals came after spending a good month or so beforehand treating myself well ��� balancing a solid and focused practice routine with eating healthy, exercise, and plenty of sleep. Eating bananas and avoiding caffeine before an audition seemed to help keep the nerves down, and avoiding alcohol helped to keep my joints flexible and my muscles relaxed. Thank god I don’t audition any more and can have all the booze and caffeine I want! 😀
Speaking of caffeine, I once attended a master class with cellist Anner Bylsma and was struck by how much coffee that guy was putting away during the session. His performances of the Bach cello suites are among my favorites, and maybe it’s just me, but when I listen to his recordings I swear I can hear the coffee at work in there. I myself used to hit the practice room with two or three cans of Coca-Cola in my hands, and would start off breakfast, lunch and tea time with a double cappuccino, which really made practicing fun ��� I would obsess on perfecting fingerings, create ten different ways to phrase a line, whittle away at my list of orchestra excerpts and solo pieces, and stay in the practice room for eight hours at a time. Probably it was all a bit much… Anyway…
Auditions can be a brutal process. A strategy of any sort is better than nothing at all, and the more auditions you do, the more you can refine your strategy. (Or the more you go crazy…) Another thing I liked to do for audition or recital preparations is to go and play in front of as many people as I could. For recitals, I’d offer to go play at retirement homes or go grab some people to be my audience for a mini recital. For auditions, we would put a group of people together to do practice auditions once in a while ��� we would take turns playing and the rest of us would be judges. Then we’d discuss the performances and share ideas. It was almost never all bassists; more often it was a mix. We’d hear clarinet first, then maybe a violin, and so on. The main thing was to just get the flavor of what to expect, to practice getting through it all, and to come out of it with a more confident feeling.