audition thoughts... yes, it's that time of the year again!

ive been doing much work and my brain has been rattled when i get home- not a great situation for writing blog post. and i have missed writing greatly. there has been so many wonderful rehearsals, new and old friends, etc. even concerts! and it just flew by! what a shame...

so before i forget more stuff, here are some thoughts regarding audition process. the grad audition weeks were quite demanding- i accompanied about 29 grad auditions. however, i do enjoy this season immensely- people have been preparing to be at their best and i do like being part of this exciting process! and if there are things i can add or suggest that may allow the player to be more of 'who they are that day,' i am a happy monkey! :)

1. always, always double check the requirement.  if they are asking for full-concerto (apparently mcgill did, this year), do prepare the whole thing. if they say no repeats, well, dont bother.  not being able to tailor your program means that you either did not read the requirement (bad) or you did not understand basic english (worse).

2. when picking works, at least pick one easy work. what's easy work? the work that's at moderate tempo without too much demand on rhythm/ensemble/stylistic points.  of course, pick one or two additional works that may best represent your ability but do pick an easy work, to settle self down in heat of the moment.

3. make sure your piano part matches your instrumental part.  often people are surprised when i ask them to bring me their parts: dont you have them?  well, there can be many different editions and i do not see the point of playing from a different editions, especially when the editors may have been too creative.  also, several works exist in multiple keys- check, check, check!  even simple things like bar numbers may differ.

4. start your audition with the 'easy' work selection. if you have something impressive, they will get to it. panel would know the repertoire.  i strongly advise against starting the audition with any 'solo' works as no. 1 pick.  not because the pianist need to stay in the room twiddling thumb, but because solo work means... well, you are on your own... youve hired me as a wing man, lemme be there with you.  on easy-accompanied, at least i can try to hold you, help you get centred. and who said solo bach is easy to start? in fact, it's never easy?!!  and if you bring solo bach, trust me, they will ASK for it.

5. when you are tuning, do play at the full pitch, especially you, wind players (brass, im looking at you).  wind flow will effect the pitch and if you tune much softer than playing level, well, you will have to readjust constantly.  also do get used to playing when instrument is cold/reed is dry/excited- it will take time to get used to such environment.  if you arent sure if you are too high/low, just pick one way, then you will either get closer or further from being 'on.' if you have gone the other way, well, reverse. but do tune please.  also, play some big notes and soft notes, to get used to the acoustics of the place.

6. if you have a particular passage that you want to play for the panel, do ask them gently.  they are there to listen to you, rather than put you on a spot and make things awkward.  if you dont ask, they may never ask...!

7. for things such as sight reading or play-back, take your time. taking your time is never a penalty. doing it wrong does call for penalty.

8. check your tempo at home with metronome. you are likely to play faster when excited. in that case, you can at least get back to the metronome marking during warm up and refresh self.  when picking tempo, never pick the tempo from the beginning- find the most difficult part, find tempo, then fit it back.  if appropriate, ask your accompanist to 'hold' to the centre of the beat. once rolling, it's hard to stop... from crashing.

9. do practice wearing your armour of choice. girls, especially- high heels will significantly alter your stance/posture.  start practicing with your heels on weeks before. if you arent compfortable, bring a pair of flats.  better to play centered than being wonky on a beautiful heels- that makes you look not too beautiful... especially if your breathing suffers (hence sounds etc)

10.  do check and check and check again- do you need photocopies? have you worked out your page turns?  do you have copy of your cadenza for the pianist? we dont like doing sitting duck-guess work. we may not know your cadenza.  we want to catch you. we dont like being all stressed out, wondering where the end of the cadenza may be. simply make two more copies, and keep them in your score with paper clip. awesome. no more guessing.

11. leave extra time for travelling.  with winter storms and such, things get slowed down or flat-out cancelled.  usually, flying in 7am to do audition at 3pm is not the best idea. i know it costs money- then re-evaluate: is it really worth it to take that risk (and you be tired!) to save a few bucks IF THIS IS THE SCHOOL YOU WANT TO SPEND 2+ YEARS AT?

12. do look for a pianist soon as you get your dates.  the busy ones will always be busy...!

13. please, accept your own self. after all, you are asking someone else to accept you as who you are that day. one day of practice wont make you break/make the audition.  save your face, fingers, lips, dignity.  you cannot be who you are not.  yes. convoluted, but true. much simpler to be who you are now.

after all, remember, audition is all about finding the right fit.  rather than looking for the best or rejecting the worst, a school is looking for a good fit- would you be happy here? you had an opportunity beforehand to get to know the school, it's now time for school to get to know you. it's just like speed-dating. before you commit to a full-on dinner, do scope one another out, feel out the vibes- would you, could you be happy here? any questions?  and no, they arent into tricking you either. theyve been there. no one is truly evil with conviction.  if things are awkward (ex. you dont have a great answer, sight reading is going terrible, etc), do take a moment and get centered. we all want you to do well!

i am hoping there will be time to catch up on all the writing that ive been dying to do. but this is a start.  best wishes to all who has been on audition tours and may you find a good place- place where you and your peers will be happy to work together. and enjoy it- audition should be an enjoyable experience. after all, what you are doing is simply showing who you are. no one wants 'another' you.  we want to hear about who you are today, not yesterday ('i played this so much better last night) or tomorrow ('only if i had another day!')- we want to know, where could we go together?

much love to all! :)