November 23, 2008 at 7:18 PM
I recently participated in an audition for one of our prominent orchestras. It had been 15 years since my last audition so needless to say, I was hoping to do well but knew I had to get back into the swing of auditioning. Auditioning is not the same as a solo performance with an orchestra or a solo recital; people are there to see you play but are there to hear music not hopefully judge you. If you make a small mistake it is no big deal, most people will not remember it anyway but, an auditions, well, well. Every note, every squeak, nuance, the speed of the excerpts, your phasing and your sound quality is scrutinized, AUGH, THE PRESSURE!
The process however was great, the orchestra staff was wonderful from the initial contact to inform me I was selected to participate to the moment I arrived and was lead to a room with other player. What I found to be a bit disturbing was the attitude of some of the other players. As I was walking into the building I arrived there along with another person who was scheduled for the same hour I was to play. I said hello to her, I received a shot curt response from a face that looked angry and stiff; well, not so pleasant a start there! We approached the door man, he asked if we were auditioning she barked a “YES”, I said yes and asked where we need to be, he gave us the directions, I thanked him and she said nothing. Again, she was not pleasant. I was thinking to myself, “Man, this person has issues”. I tried to have a conversation on the elevator, you would have thought she was a cornered animal protecting herself; I received short, curt growls.
We got upstairs, we were greeted by the registering staff that by the way were very pleasant and then placed in a large room where we had to wait for a private space. There were four other players in the large room. No one looked at each other, no one said hello; the tension was so thick I could barely pace around my small area of the room! I had forgotten how musicians treat each other at auditions; after all it had been 15 years, well at least violinists! I wanted to break the tension so said hello to another violinist hoping to have a small but pleasant conversation but NO; she would have no part of it just another short “hi”, eyes down on the ground and nothing more. Why was everyone so afraid to speak or make eye contact”? I didn’t get it at first but then it hit me, we are all enemies! Yes, at auditions all musicians become enemies regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation; how sad is that!
We all secretly want the other players to break a string, for the hair on their bow to fall out, for them to blow the audition so we will be the last person standing. What we forget is you could be the only person auditioning for this seat but if you don’t have the chops you’re not getting the job! Its may the best person win not if I think of you as the enemy or intimidate you I will win. I’m planning to take a few more auditions. I hope they will be a bit more pleasurable; just food for thought!
I had a different experience at the audition I went to in the fall. This was my first audition in 12 years, and it didn't scare me off. I didn't make the group, but everyone I met was quite nice, including the other violinists. I auditioned on viola . . . maybe they didn't see me as a threat. Or maybe because it was a volunteer, charitable group.
People can be weird when they're nervous. Some are chatty, some are taciturn. Some just can't face chit-chat and some have diarrhea of the mouth. I wouldn't take it personally.
But if you are just getting back into orchestral playing, maybe you would want to consider a non-audition orchestra or other type of community orchestra to start out. My experience at least has been that the atmosphere there is a lot less tense.
Every person deals with every circumstance differently. To give one example, football running-back LaDainian Tomlinson shuts himself off from absolutely everyone on gameday, doesn't even talk to his wife. I know I get annoyed if someone (i.e. my roommate) tries to talk to me while I'm writing a paper in an extremely focused state, and I will give curt agitated responses. I do this and I'm sure many other people do too if there is something that requires intense focus.
In my normal state nothing ever bothers me, but I know if I'm concentrating, I don't want to be disturbed. There's a large chance the lady you met is actually a delightful person as many musicians are, and perhaps after the audition or under a different circumstance she would make better small talk. Who knows what her circumstances are, maybe the audition was important to her from a monetary or lifestyle stand point. People cope with things differently. This just seems a failure where she wasn't interested in things from your point of view but you might have not exactly known her whole story. In the end don't be too quick to judge other people.
One of the biggest mistakes in relating to other people is expecting someone to do something, whether it's a behavior, an action, or anything. This is important to remember in relationships!
First of all, I nor anyone else should tollerate disrespectful treatment from anyone at any time for any reason. If you are an adult act like one! You mentioned you have a roommate; I guess your in college and younger. When you grow up you will understand what I wrote about!
If you would read my blog again and really take the time to understand what I said, it was about "my" experience and "my" impressions of "my" participation in that audition. All of those experiences were first impressions and with these impressions came opinions, my opinions which are the only opinions that matter in "my" experience!
This was a statement about the human behaviors "I"experienced at the audition. This female violinists I encountered might very well be a wonderful person but she was not that day at that time, but my blog was not about her and her actions as much as the temperment of the entire experience!
You might consider taking your own advice and not pass judgment on other as you did with me. You might also try understanding whet you read before you comment on it!
If I may be so presumptuous, I think your response to the comment was out of proportion. Any time you post something in the very public forum of the internet, someone somewhere is inevitably judging. This one was not particularly unkind, either. Can we dial it down a notch, please?
I agree with Nicole. You said, "...first impressions and with these impressions came opinions, my opinions which are the only opinions that matter in "my" experience!" I understand that you were writing in your blog about your opinions. However, once you post your blog and agree to accept comments, you will hear other people's opinions. If you have read v.,com for a while, you must have seen some pretty nasty (by my standards) comments. By comparison, Christopher's comments were mild. Let's continue to do our best to remain kind and respectful of each other, even when we disagree.
Robert, please don't fall in with these people who think that college and + students are not able to understand things such as your bad experience because they are too young. This too is a kind of judging, isn't it? Don't take the comments of people too seriously either. I am sure Christopher understands the situation even if it is not in your way.
I like the juxtaposition of the title of your blog with the one just below it.
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