For some years in Horn Articles Online I had a substantial article posted under the title “Audition Central.” My original idea was to present for my students (and anyone else who cared to read it) my own best set of general tips toward preparing and taking professional orchestral auditions.
As I moved on toward other writing projects the article was removed as it was incorporated into a book draft. Working on the University of Horn Matters repertoire course for this semester I felt it was time to post the article again, as it had specific content very useful toward that course content.
The article itself is updated fairly substantially in this new, 2013 version compared to the original and reflects on my own experiences taking auditions (around 30 of them!), hearing orchestral auditions as a member of the Nashville Symphony, and coaching many students toward taking auditions. The full article is here:
Looking at the article again with fresh eyes I realize that some of the same general concepts are outlined in much more depth in Chapter 10 of Horn Playing from the Inside Out by Eli Epstein. This is no coincidence as during the most pivotal year of my audition preparation (between my MM and Doctoral study) I took a number of professional auditions and my primary lessons were in fact with Eli Epstein. I plan to have a full review of his new publication very soon, but I highly recommend this portion of the publication for those looking for even more tactics for audition preparation.
Again, the full article is posted in Horn Articles Online, but to close I would offer this excerpt of the longer article, which contains a deep thought and an angle on auditions I don’t see presented often.
While many strive to be the best, I would instead suggest striving to be your best. It is perhaps a subtle difference, but striving to be your best looks simply to do the best that you can do in any situation with your God-given abilities. Striving to be the best on the other hand invokes a sense of comparison that is irrelevant to actually doing your best job. Our heightened sense of our own shortcomings can also get very much in the way and, besides, there is always someone better out there in some way. Let others make their own comparisons and just aim to do your best in every situation.
This thought especially relates to performances and auditions. It is very helpful to take an audition and to really be ranked as to how you perform–you will gain perspective as to how good you really are and will also certainly see areas to work on–but what others will think of your playing is really out of your hands. Don’t live or die by those rankings. Just strive to do your best.