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Don’t worry, be happy: the right spirit for school auditioning.

Jacqueline Vanasse

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Published: February 3, 2014 at 8:31 PM [UTC]

It’s a fact, school auditions make people freak out! Knowing that those little ten minutes in the audition room will decide whether or not you will be given the chance to keep doing what you love most can be pretty frightening. It is funny that an audition, which is in fact an opportunity, is often experienced as a punishment. Why not look at it positively instead of negatively? Are you auditioning for the Manhattan School of Music? Then look forward to this chance of “performing” in fabulous New York City. You prepared Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 5? What great music, you love it! Be proud then, not many people will ever enjoy the experience of playing it.

The process will require an enormous amount of work. It can be as exhausting physically as mentally, if not more. Therefore start preparing yourself as far in advance as possible. Secure the deadlines as soon as you can. Be organized. Meticulously plan the whole process to get anything that can slow you down out of the way and to avoid any additional stress. But most of all enjoy this process and benefit from it. Surprisingly, at the end, most people wish they had had more time to prepare themselves, and not only for the sake of feeling more confident on the big day. “The excuse to receive some really great advice and feedback through different consultation lessons was so refreshing for my playing and musicianship and left me in a place where I really was sure that this is what I want to do with my life” recalled Annamarie Arai, an undergraduate student last year at UCLA. So learn from it! It is too much of a big deal just to go through it miserable.

On the day of your audition there is nothing else you can do but play. Leave the technique at home and bring the music on stage! “From experience things are not going to go better if you focus so much on technique. If people who are listening to you are bored they are going to hear much more of the mistakes than if they are carried away with the music” says Itamar Zorman, silver medalist at the Tchaikovsky Competition 2011. “People who sit on those panel they really want to enjoy what they listen to” he adds. The work has been done and if you have done it correctly there is really nothing to worry about. Now it’s time to show who you are. “The audition itself is simple: you wholeheartedly perform and live only in the present. If you find your attention wandering, focus on the innumerable details in the music that you've been practicing over and over -- it's familiar and even comforting in a stressful situation” suggests Katie Meyers, a graduate student at Mannes College of Music last year. Therefore it cannot be repeated enough that you should play what you know best. Play what you know and what you like; the jury panel wants to see sparkles and fireworks, if not from your bow, then from your heart. To make a good impression and to show the best of yourself, know really well the piece you are starting with. Moreover, know extremely well the beginning of all your pieces for the simple reason that it is the beginning that is most likely to be heard. It will give you confidence for the rest of the audition. In addition to that, visualize: visualize the hall in which you are going to play, the panel, yourself in the hall in front of the panel, visualize yourself feeling good and confident.

We tend to forget, but remember that you are auditioning to be a student so the jury is not looking for perfection but for someone with potential to grow. They are looking for someone who can overcome his fears and stress and let his instrument sing and communicate his passion. Don’t worry and be happy because you play best when you are happy.

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From Krista Moyer
Posted on February 3, 2014 at 10:51 PM
At my age, I am unlikely to ever experience an audition, but this article applies to so much more. So the next time I'm asked to play in public, I will remember what you wrote.

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