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Audition Question

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by 74hc, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    We had an audition for a keyboardist/choir director this past week, and I'm asked to evaluate the audition. I have no idea how to respond.

    Most seem to like the person, some did not. The applicant had difficulty in playing through all but one song. Even that one song was a bit shaky.

    The people who thought the applicant was good basically thought it was nerves and not a true representation of the applicant's skills. I was told the applicant has a PhD in some music degree.

    The job is for a senior, experience musician, and pays $75/hr for performance, rehearsals, etc, and about double that for special events.

    I had thought that we would say thanks, and bring in the next applicant for an audition, but we did not. We basically left it as the applicant will be given 3 weeks to come up to speed.

    So my question is for those of you with experience of hiring band members and conducting auditions, what would you do? Pass, or hire, or extend the audition 3 weeks?

    Also, when you see this, how likely is it that the applicant just had a bad audition, and they are truly talented?

    I would like to duck and avoid the question since there are more than a handful of us in the audition. I really don't think my feedback is necessary.
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    At that level, why would you not bring in at least a few qualified candidates if you've got them waiting in line?
    If this applicant's degree is not in performance, I suppose it could be nerves.
    Does s/he have gig history? Is there performance video or audio to review?
    It's not uncommon to have a callback audition for the most promising candidates, but it's usually a more rigorous test than an initial screening.
    But I don't know how challenging your repertoire is.
    Maybe the person's choir director skills outweigh keyboard playing skills.
    If you thought the person would be a poor fit, "speak now or forever hold your piece / peace."
    If your environment is such that your opinion would not be respected, that's a different and possibly more serious issue.
    Bassdirty and Downunderwonder like this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Unless the applicant is absolutely perfect, and has given you a timeframe, you lose nothing by interviewing others. Also, if they are nervous and mess up at an audition, what makes anyone think they won't get nervous and mess up when performing.

    Also, the longer you wait, the tougher it will be to say no.

    Frankly, it sounds like the other interviewers are just afraid to say no.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  4. crguti


    Feb 14, 2011
    if you like the person, call him/her to a 2nd audition.
    Bassdirty and mike57 like this.
  5. oldrocker


    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Seems this is your feedback. You were able to tell us, you should be able to tell the person asking your feedback the same thing.
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Chillin' n Grillin' on the Best Coast
    Song Surgeon slow downer.
    oldrocker likes this.
  7. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    During the last few years we have had people come out a second time. Although they did have to make an impression during the first audition. For me personality is bigger than musicianship. Are they a team player, good attitude, positive etc.

    Generally when the first audition does not go well it is usually a "red" flag. However, I have been wrong on this. I would have certainly outlined and given this person some feedback in regards to what he did wrong. Did he say anything? Any excuses? I guess whatt's different about the OP's situation is that they are hiring a BL, correct?

    Good luck.
    74hc likes this.
  8. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Did you evaluate his choir directing skills? Which part, directing or playing, is most important?

    For that kind of pay, you should definitely not settle for someone who is just adequate.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  9. Oddly

    Oddly Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'm a bit confused.
    You say you were asked to evaluate the audition, yet it seems the decision to take this person has already been made by others.
    Did nobody else turn up to audition?
    Bassdirty and Downunderwonder like this.
  10. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    Thanks for the replies, it's helping me quite a bit.

    Let me answer some questions:

    I didn't know it was an audition until after the fact. So did another person I privately queried the following day. If those that are on the hiring committee didn't organize it well enough, I hate to say anything negative about the candidate. I cannot say the candidate was giving proper information in a timely manner on the songs for the audition. The "audition" was our regular rehearsal where we just started practicing songs for this coming Sunday. Also, this set list was changed significantly on the night before via email.

    I think you're right about the decision being made by others, or actually one or two already. I get the feeling either they are looking for confirmation, or somebody else to say the negatives. The BL who's leaving and this opening is the replacement seems to be rushing to hire.

    There have been no other auditions that I'm aware of. However, it is likely that a small audition was done with a few members only with no communication.

    Also, I'm told there are two candidates that applied for the job. This is the only one I've met.

    I would be woefully under-qualified to evaluate directing skills. Playing the piano would be the most important skill. Since we don't have a drummer, and the piano is the majority of the mix, instrument-wise, it's important for me to sync up with. That I could do a decent job of evaluating, but I'm also a very junior member. I don't want to step on some boundaries.

    For this kind of pay, I thought we'd get an experience gospel/worship pianist that could hit the ground running (with sheet music of course). Since I'm not very familiar with pay scales for this area, it might be low. It doesn't seem so to me though.

    Very good point. If I give feedback, I want it to be impartial and factual only.

    I think cooler heads will prevail and it will happen. It seems like we might have botched setting up a proper audition for the candidate which is not fair to that person. It's been decades since I've auditioned, but back then its typical to receive song list and a cassette containing original songs.

    A couple of the songs were original, but these are the easy mass parts like Holy, Alleliua, Lamb of God, etc. But I hoped we gave the candidate the four main songs, the sheet music for those, and proper lead time. If not, we better get our act together if we expect to find a candidate that will accept us! Auditions go both ways.

    Agree on both. The more I answer here, the more I believe we need to setup a proper audition, and put our best foot forward as well. Sooner is better.

    I could absolutely be a wallflower and just play my bass on the back of the stage and be at peace. You other point is well taken. I don't believe my opinion will have as much weight as most others. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't bother me. It does to some lesser degree.

    My wife and I have been attending this church around the time our oldest was born. He just turned 18. In that time, I've never seen another bass player there, other than a few that come for one service and disappear for good.

    I suspect though, I'm somewhat trailblazing and others will come out of the woodwork with their basses in the future, and stay for awhile. Or I hope so. There are more choirs than just the two I'm on.
  11. $75 per hour should get you a pretty onto it MD I would have thought.

    Say your bit.
  12. Given how many pianists tread all over the bass you should be happy to have your 10c being requested.
  13. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    To me, that kind of changes the expectation of the applicant being better prepared. Kind of difficult to expect a better performance when changing things on the applicant last second like that. Three weeks to come up to speed might not be unrealistic.
  14. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California

    So true!

    The latest is the candidate was either fired or resigned before the first gig or rehearsal. I have no idea as I'm not told much.

    To recap, she came out to our rehearsals. Listened to the first group rehearsal which the current keyboardist lead and played. Then took over the piano at the second group's rehearsal and proceeded to not be able to play continuously through any song. This is the OCP Spirit & Song which are not difficult stuff, and she had the keyboard accompaniment sheet music.

    She sung in an opera voice on the last song which appeared to help her get through the song on the piano. Still, it wasn't that good. After she left, we all had a band meeting with the top boss who pays the bills. It was then, I'd thought we would pass, or maybe reset and hold a better audition, but they were all taking about hiring her on a probation period.

    So, we're caught up to my original post. After posting, an email went out that she accepted the job. I'm thinking okay, she probably had a one-off bad audition which we might have messed up our end.

    First practice, no show. Next Sunday gig, no show. Following practice, the keyboardist leaving asked us where is our piano player. Turns out no show.

    A couple of days later, an email is sent out saying that she will not be with us.

    The following Sunday, prior to the gig, we're told she accepted, then asked for double the amount, and either quit when the answer was no, or was just let go as the answer. I don't know which.

    This is probably for the better. The candidate is a sales manager for a Chinese company that probably has to travel frequently. She's also an opera singer that has travelled the world singing. I'll venture to guess that most of these are at union shops, and she's probably an AFM* union member. I don't think we pay at union levels either, but then maybe that's why she asked for double the pay.

    In the end, I think this was a rather tacky way... negotiating after accepting.

    * AFM seems to suck big time. They appear to be recruiting new members using an attitude that their members are exempt from California's AB-5. However, I don't recall reading union exemption language in the bill.

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