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Good Audition Advice...from a trumpet player

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by Simandl Fan, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Dear Friends,

    I found this post on www.trumpetherald.com, a trumpet website I check into (after checking here, of course.) It was posted by the associate trumpet player and audition committee member of the LA Phil, just after their recent trumpet auditions.

    I found it to be very informative, and most of the advice will apply to us bass players. I hope you find it interesting; reading it helped me with a successful audition this afternoon.

    In the interest of saving some of you guys the heartache of blowing a bunch of money to come to an audition and getting cut early, here are a few observations while they are still fresh in my mind:

    1) Sound is king. Do not try to artificially darken your sound by lipping everything down - you will end up with a dead, flat sound, and you will also end up back at the airport a day early. Many, many candidates went down for this reason. Conversely, do not squeeze up on the notes, either. Tight sounds do not win jobs. Play right down the middle of the horn, where the sound spins. On every note. Including the fast ones.

    2) Do not neglect the metronome when you are preparing - I don't care what level player you are - do it. You will be amazed at the tendencies you will notice and (hopefully) correct. This goes for counting your rests, too.

    3) Don't assume that because the LA Phil (or any other band) is a "big-time" orchestra, we want to hear everything really loud. There were more 300 lbs ballerinas than I care to think about . When an excerpt calls for you to really rip it, then yes, by all means show us what you have (with a good sound), but you had better show us the flip side, too. Remember, there may be more than a few viola or bassoon players on that committee, and you can bet they're thinking "do I really want to sit in front of that?

    4) Along those lines, if it is marked p or pp we want to hear it softly. Not so softly that you ghost every other note, or to the point it sounds weak or scared, however. Just don't come out and play your Academic Festival at a comfortable mf.

    5) Get intimate with your tuner. Yes, it is a tool based on an equal-tempered scale, but it will show you if you are really flat or really sharp.

    6) Play with good rhythm. Should be a no-brainer. You'd be surprised at the variations we heard on the second mvt of Dvorak 8, or Siegfried's Funeral March, etc. And the opening fanfare before the Ballerina Dance? Uh, the beat is in eight notes there, so that low C gets four of 'em.

    7) Unless you are willing to get a recording and listen to the whole piece, don't waste your money on airfare. It was brutally obvious that some had just listened to the excerpt, or that they had learned it from the guy in the next practice room. Do yourself a favor and go to iTunes and spend a buck on each piece. Do this before you try to learn the piece. If a list says "sight-reading may be required", a good place to look is the dark corners of the pieces that are already on the list...

    8.) Pick reasonable tempos - some guys cratered because they tried to play some things too fast. Don't volunteer to show us "what you can't do". If we want to know, we'll ask...

    9) Be honest in your preparation. If there are problems, you can bet we'll hear 'em if you can. Fix them instead of pretending they're not there, or hoping we won't "ask for that one".

    10) Ask yourself "why is this piece on the list?" Figure out what qualities we are looking for in a particular excerpt, and make sure you demonstrate them. In other words, we want to hear versatility. It should sound like the same person, but a person with a HUGE tool bag. Lyrical pieces like Pines or the Posthorn solo have tremendous potential to show how beautifully you can turn a phrase - don't leave that opportunity on the table.

    11) Don't be afraid to shine. The committee is looking for someone to say "I'm the one". That means, in addition to doing everything I just said, you need to make all of that sound like it is second nature to you, freeing up your conscious energy to concentrate on actually making music. I want to hear patience. I want to hear someone who puts the proper space between the 16th notes on Siegfried to give the impression of weight - same goes for the aforementioned Dvorak 8th. I want to hear someone who plays with purpose, direction and intensity. Play these excerpts like they are actual pieces of music, which they are. You need to know the context in order to do that.

    Chris played great. He did not play the most accurate audition (darn close), but he consistently played with refinement, a great, centered sound, and attention to musical nuance and detail. He did not panic when a note went by the wayside. He showed poise and maturity, which is very reassuring to someone who might be sitting next to him for the next 20 years. He showed a huge range of musical expression, and was not afraid to cut loose when appropriate. His technique was clean and reliable - it did not fail him under pressure. You could tell he took the rotary and cornet seriously, too.

    I hope this doesn't come off sounding too harsh, but it was sometimes frustrating to hear players that you knew were capable, but just did not prepare properly or take it seriously enough. I know in some cases, audition jitters just get the best of us (believe me when I say I've played some really bad ones), but you don't want to make unnecessary mistakes.

    Now get practicing for the next one!

  2. Too many people in my band lose any sort of dynamics that the song should have.

    I am very dynamic but they just look like "o, the bass dropped out"

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