This article of tips on taking auditions was originally posted to the site in early 2009, but was later cut (along with a large group of articles), and saved for possible revision. Looking at it again, I think it needs mostly just set up a little bit better. The article is based on notes taken at several audition days (not during horn auditions), and was not at all meant to disrespect those that came to audition! The general idea I had was to share a few tips in a creative format, encouraging students especially to look at auditions from a different perspective. Auditions are a reality show, and you create perceptions about yourself based on how you present yourself in the situation. If you have auditions coming up, good luck!
Here is the idea. You set up say two to four world class brass teachers in a room and offer a prize, say at the least acceptance to a great brass program and at best an offer of a good scholarship or Teaching Assistant position! OK, then the potential students sign up and make travel plans and get to the site. Presumably they prepare the materials with their current teachers, but not always! That is part of the entertainment value, to hear those that really can play mixed in with dreamers who don’t have their acts together or at least together enough that day.
At the site they are greeted by the teachers who then have them play. No ambush to the audition either; the committee starts them out playing something of their own choice, and goes on based on what materials they have brought to offer at the audition. So those things could include their high and low range (including extremes), ability to multiple tongue, scales, control of dynamics, of course sight reading, transposition (combine sight reading and transposition for variety) and for sure also check their ability to match pitches. Points off for excuses, especially from grad applicants with a weak knowledge of excerpts or transposition (always makes you wonder what their teachers had them work on!), and also points off for blasting! No blasters win the prize, but musicality with good tone, rhythm, and intonation gets extra credit, they have potential to really go places. And no “hesitation attacks” please, those are the kiss of death.
Today as you might have guessed is the end of our little reality show for this year, brass auditions at Arizona State University. Except it is not a reality show, it is reality….