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!
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