Auditions are horrible. If you’ve ever taken one, even an audition for the school chorus, chances are you had shaky knees, butterflies in your stomach and a head full of doubts. And if your auditions are of the kind where you feel that your whole future is in the balance, the nerves and upset might be a thousand times worse. And that doesn’t help your audition performance.
I have taken many auditions in my life, with varying outcomes. But as a teacher, I analyze audition preparation, performance and results through a different lens. I want my students to be prepared for the challenge, to be able to do their best and to come through the experience, no matter the results, with an attitude that will enable them to move forward.
For me the attitude is more important than the results. If the audition is successful, meaning that they “win,” then I want them to be able to analyze how they created the opportunity for them to win, so that they can have a blueprint for future successes.
If the audition is not successful, and they “lose,” then I want them to be able to be objective and fair to themselves in looking at what did and didn’t happen to prevent them from achieving their desired result. I believe “losing” only happens when you don’t expect that you can do better next time, when you give up rather than grow up.
In my experience, the worst part of an audition is that almost everything about it is out of your control: the place, the time, the judges, the weather. The light may not be right, or you have a brand-new string, or you’re getting a cold, or you didn’t get enough time to warm up.
Even if you play just the way you want, you have no control over who else may be performing. You may be the best performer that day or maybe the next Heifetz played just before you. You can’t control the situation, and you can’t control anyone else who is playing, meaning the outcome of the audition is out of your hands.
But here lies the best thing about auditions: you have total control over the two most vital elements, your own musical preparation and your attitude.
If you prepare properly, your performance will be the best representation of yourself and your abilities that you can present. And though you are almost certain to have some nervous anxiety, you can prepare for this and reduce its effect. The choices about practice and preparation before the audition are the greatest factor in creating the opportunity for your success. You are the boss of you.
Second, your attitude needs to reflect three things: confidence in your preparation, a readiness to learn from the result, and acceptance of the fact that everything else is beyond your control. If your nerves get in the way of a good performance, you can work on that for next time. If you play pretty much the way you had hoped but the judges choose someone else, it’s worth examining and seeing if there is information that could be helpful to you next time. And that means you aren’t a loser. You’re a learner, and sooner or later, a winner.
Some interesting audition stories:
The Audition: A Boston Symphony Orchestra percussion audition
Auditioning for “From the Top”: Caitlin Kelley
A Year of Auditions – stories about auditions by dancers, musicians,actors and LOTS of authors!
What’s It Like to Audition for “The Voice?”