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Violin Lessons: Audition Preparation

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>> The first thing to remember about
audition preparation is that,
at it's heart it's like other performance
It doesn't have to be thought of as some
totally different beast that's scary and
However, the first impressions in
auditions are much more important than in
other kinds of performing, because you
only have a short time to play and
the selections you're playing are very
Now what we discuss as committees all the
is how frequently sound is the topic of
Sound is the most important factor,
which should be obvious since people are
listening to you play.
But when you really think about it, the
sound quality that you're putting out
right from the very first note, that's
your fingerprint.
That's your voice.
That's the very first impression that each
committee member forms about you.
So that means that you have to keep that
quality through all dynamics,
through all tempos, and through all
Doesn't mean you have to keep the same
sound quality, of course, but
it must be a quality sound, something that
people want to listen to and
that's interesting to them.
An interesting sound is always variable.
It's changing.
It's, it rings.
It has modulations like a human voice.
So when you're practicing, especially
audition material, you want to make
sure you have interest from the very first
instant your bow is to the string.
And that you have a variable sound, that
it doesn't stay the same,
even for a few seconds.
That you're changing as the music changes,
that could be due to harmony, rhythm, the
melodic line.
Now, the first selection that you play in
an audition
is almost always your concerto.
It's not true for every audition, but for
most auditions you get to play a concerto
Therefore that is the single most
important thing in the audition.
The excerpts when they come afterward are
of course extremely important.
They demonstrate all kinds of things.
But the first impression is made by the
solo selection.
So, the opening character is all important
in your solo section.
You must have a rock solid starting
routine that you've practiced
hundreds of times.
How to get the sound that you want, right
from the beginning, and
set you off on the right foot.
You need to use the technique of
which we've covered here in this
Sometimes that's all you can count on.
You may not know what the hall is going to
look like.
You might not know exactly what excerpts
you're gonna get to play.
You don't know who's going to be leading
you out on stage,
who the committee members are gonna be.
Sometimes all you can count on is that
perfect visualization that you've
been honing in your mind.
And so you need to have all of those ready
to call on when you get on the stage.
You can visualize not only the music, but
your opening routines,
you can visualize being called from your
practice room.
Walking onto the stage, an unfamiliar
Anything that can simulate those nerves.
Now how to, how to simulate those nerves.
Think of what happens when you get
There may be physical effects such as
gripping the violin tighter,
gripping the bow tighter.
Those I would call actual physical
effects, adrenaline.
But it, nerves will also effect your
perception of time.
Most people find that they rush.
They rush fast notes.
They rush through rests.
They rush the beginning of excerpts.
They think, oh I, I have to start right
I'm taking forever to start.
And again, that's usually not true.
Nerves can affect your perception of
You may start playing and, and feel, oh,
it sounds tiny.
I'm not, I'm not, I'm not making any
I'm not getting anything back from the
hall, and then they start pressing.
When in reality, they're making the same
sound they've always made.
It's just the nerves that are changing the
Finally, nerves can change your perception
of success.
You may make a mistake early on in an
And your mind is just telling you that's a
crushing mistake, this audition is over.
When in reality it was a tiny slip that
the committee
may not have even noticed and even if they
as long as you keep playing well they're
gonna forget about it.
So, physical sensation, time, sound and
success, nerves can effect all of those.
Which is why you need to rehearse those
And the best way to do that is to have a
mock audition.
Where you're playing for people,
at an exact time, at an exact location,
and in a formal setting.
So, rather than just inviting some friends
over, having some food and drinks and
then eventually getting the violin out and
chatting and
asking for feedback, you need to say, I'm
gonna have a mock audition.
It's gonna be in the basement, becauseI
never practice there.
At 5:00 I'm gonna walk down there.
You guys are gonna ask me for excerpts.
And only after I'm done is there going to
be any chit chat.
That is going to simulate the audition in
the best way possible.
If you can, you should record that mock
because you likely won't have a great
perception of how it went.
And you'll want to compare your perception
with the recording when you play it back
later and notice the differences.
You should get feedback from your friends,
place the most importance on their first
Not every nuance, and every detail of
every excerpt that they may tell you.
Place the most importance on that first
because that's what the committee is going
to notice as well.
Now you'll want to have, once you've
listened to a playback of that, or
once you're rehashing your mind what went
well, what didn't, you'll want to have
some key thoughts that may counteract some
bad habits.
So if you really rushed the beginnings of
all your excerpts,
you need to have a key thought for the
beginning of that excerpt.
So if it's Don Juan you may wanna say
I rushed through all those beginning
My key thought is gonna be horizontal.
That's gonna make me use bow in the
That may also take the, the form of key
If you tightened up and just felt small
playing your excerpts.
One of your key moves may want to be
imagining that you're a giant bird.
You're spreading your wings and that's a
key move for
you before you start an excerpt.
You have to have these in place well in
advance of the audition so
that you can implement them.
As for mock auditions, do them early and
do them often.
If you're lucky enough to have friends who
can listen.
You may have to change out the friends so
you're not getting used to them and, and
not getting nervous any more.
On the day of the audition itself it's
fine to be nervous.
That's totally normal.
I still get nervous for performances.
And I got nervous for all my auditions.
What you wanna do is maintain your normal
Sleep your normal amount, eat the normal
If you always drink coffee, then drink
If you don't, then certainly don't.
[LAUGH] You'll want to arrive to the hall
or the appointed place in plenty of time.
Just trust me,
you don't want to be dealing with any
traffic or public transportation issues.
Get there plenty early, and then be
This is your day to audition for a certain
If you see people you know, which you very
well may,
you don't need to talk to them, they'll
You don't need to hang out, you get to put
on headphones, listen
to the music that makes you happy, bring
something to read, take time for yourself.
This is your day.
You also wanna be professional.
Everyone in an audition from the committee
members to your fellow candidates,
to the people working the audition,
bringing you from the room to the stage,
they're all working together to run a
successful audition.
You have to have that thought in your mind
that you don't let petty thoughts get in
the way.
It's just never worth it, so your best
approach is to assume everyone's working
together to make this a successful
audition, so that you can do your best.
And then finally, when your out there,
remember that the show has to go on.
An audition is a performance like other
ones, and if something doesn't go the way
you want, you show how you're a
professional by keeping going.
You keep doing your best playing and let
the chips fall where they may.
So I wish you luck in your next audition.