Audition Rituals

2017 is the year of the auditions! I took a few years off from the audition circuit and now I am taking most of the bassoon auditions that pop up. This new direction has been great for my daily practice routine.

I have a few audition rituals that I’ve started and have found them to be useful to me. As far as travel goes, I arrive into town 2 days before the audition so that I have a full day in the hotel to practice and work on reeds. I also stay within walking distance from the audition location so that on the day I can relax.

My favorite part of taking auditions is the opportunity to travel to cities that I would never normally visit. So I buy a keychain on the day after my audition is over, this is the only physical token of the whole event. I have a terrible memory so this is nice over time to look back at past auditions.

The more important tradition is note taking. Immediately after I play and go back to my case to pack up I take the front page of the audition packet and jot down everything that happened, good and bad. This has extended even further to keeping track of the time I wake up, eat for breakfast, how nervous I’m feeling, time of audition, reed situation, temperature etc…

This all stemmed from the first few auditions that I took. They were spaced far apart with many onrush or years in between, and I had this idea that I was probably making the same mistakes over and over again from one place to another and not remembering what went wrong at the last audition. So keeping track of the variables on the audition day has become as important as what actually happened with my playing.

Learning to Audition Better

I have entered the limbo phase of my life. I am out of school and practicing all day just waiting for auditions to come up. I’m becoming a full time audition jockey and taking everything that opens. After taking auditions for a few years I realized that I have a problem retaining my audition performance. I can remember the mistakes that I made for a few days, but after months, when I am at the next audition, I try to remember how my last audition went and I have no idea.

So I decided to start an audition journal at my grad school auditions two years ago. Its just a regular composition notebook that I keep in my excerpt binder. I get really into it during an audition and try to document everything possible. Everything from how much sleep I got the night before the audition, how much coffee that I had (for nervous people caffeine can cause shaky hands) and how the audition actually went. Before I even start packing up my instruments I start jotting down what mistakes happened and how I recovered from mistakes.

I have been recommending this to all of my friends who are taking auditions. Even just for posterity’s sake, to look back and laugh at a terrible audition disaster. This is also the best way to record the experience and know in advance how you will react in future auditions.

From my own personal audition journal I found a few patterns evolving. I don’t have stage fright, so I don’t get nervous on stage or during a performance. I do get nervous the morning of an audition but it’s based on logistics.

Like… do i have the perfect reed? did i remember my reeds? do i have the correct check in time? correct date? did i warm up enough? too much? etc.

I also skip breath marks that I have specifically written in. As if after months of practicing this piece of music and logically making a decision of where to breathe, on the spot I have a better solution. So then I am forced to take a breath in a spot that makes no sense whatsoever and is completely jarring.

So outside of the obvious “having mock auditions for friends, family, and teachers” and “recording yourself” and “find many different recordings of the pieces” I would say that the audition journal is the best way to personally track and control yourself in audition settings.