Handling an Audition
by, 05-08-2006 at 06:00 PM (202 Views)
Most players have trouble dealing with nerves during pressure situations like auditions or competitions. Below are a few thoughts I recently sent to a student that might help you prepare.
- Practice well beyond where you thing you need to. If you get totally sick of the pieces, then divert some of your practice time to other exercises that will emphasize the same basic skills. For example, if there are long intervals in one of your pieces, you can find or make up plenty of long-interval exercises that will help you improve the same basic skills. If a piece has a passage in a key you find difficult, spend some time practicing other pieces or etudes in that same key. It will help keep you from getting tired of your "real" piece.
- Practice with distractions now and then. Have someone in the room listening as you go through the pieces. Ask them to walk around now and then to make sure you are not easily distracted. You will certainly be distracted by things while you are playing the audition, so it is better to get used to handling these things before you get there.
- Learn to play everything faster and slower than you prefer. This will help you survive if you excitement causes you to play faster or if you have an accompanist who gets you into a slightly different tempos.
- Record your practice now and then and try to listen objectively. You know what your strengths are and you should appreciate them as you listen. But also listen for your weaknesses and try to hear them as a stranger would. Are you breathing in the best places? Are you breathing too often? How is your rhythm? Do your tempos hold up throughout a passage/movement? Is your tone even from high to low? Is there life in the music? Etc.
- At some auditions and competitions you will be waiting in a "holding area" for a while before you play. So make that part of your practice now and then. After getting a full warm up, don't play a note for 10 or 15 minutes and then pretend it is your turn to play. Do a tuning note or two and then jump into your pieces, trying to play all the way through all pieces required.
Nerves are always the biggest problem in a competition. Harold Brasch used to say that the best way to overcome your nerves is to practice and practice and practice and...