1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

How to prepare

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by aaabass, Dec 16, 1999.

  1. aaabass

    aaabass Guest

    What are some of the tips/tricks y'all use to prepare for an orchestral audition? What about nervousness? Every time I do an audition it seems like I'm shaking so bad i can't even play. Any advice?
  2. Bryan


    Dec 24, 1999
    I'm curious to know what an orchestra audition consists of. I currently own only electrics but in college I played primarily upright and I'm currently saving my money for one. My musical dream is to play in an orchestra so any experiences and tips any of you vets have I'm definitely watching this thread. THANKS
  3. mahler


    Jan 19, 2000
    Preparing for an orchestral audition isn't really all that hard, since you know pretty much what they're going to ask for... Usually, you'll start off with the first movement of a solo of your choice, or a movement of solo Bach. Then, it's the standards: Beethoven 5 and 9; Mozart 35,40,41; Brahms 1, Strauss Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben, or Also Sprach... I know I'm leaving out many, but I'm too tired to think right now.

    I didn't mean to say preparing was easy... It's just that once you've got all the standard rep music, it's just a matter of drilling the material and getting lessons with as many experience teachers as you can.
  4. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    There is no single answer to Bryan's question; what's required varies with the orchestra. Decide which orchestra you want to try for and call and ask. The differencescan be extreme. A friend in a major NYC orchestra who auditioned for the NYC Ballet orch practiced 5 hours a day for months prior. That's competition in the big city.
  5. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    To resurrect a nearly dead thread... I'm looking at getting into orchestral playing again after a hiatus of over a decade. So I've picked up one of the Zimmerman orchestral excerpts books to go over some of the standard audition pieces (and figure I'll get more later). I figure I'm going to spend at least six months getting my orchestra chops into shape. I'll probably end up getting a teacher down the line, but for now, I'd like to do as much work on my own as possible. Anyway, I'm thinking that I would be well-advised to spend some time playing some of the orchestral pieces with recordings of the full orchestra. Not so much music minus one type things as just swinging by the local record shop and buying. So with this in mind, any recommended recordings of the standard pieces? Here's what I've picked up as the core stuff to work on:

    Beethoven 5,9
    Brahms 1,4
    Mozart 35, 40, 41

    Any suggestions on fun and challenging solo pieces to work on?

    Celebrate national part time workers week this Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  6. Here is a quote from a discussion of auditions on "double bass list" a few years ago. An assistant principal wrote in:

    "Auditions are a cruel fact of life. The more you do the better you get {and the more you know what and how to prepare}.
    "I listen to heaps of auditions each year. What I hear are "the common mistakes" done over and over by most of the candidates. If you are given a list of excerpts, take the time to listen to and learn the entire movements that are excerpted. Lack of style or making it obvious that you don't know the piece is an easy way to leave an audition quickly.
    "Rhythm is the next trouble spot. By rhythm, it is important to stress that there are two aspects: _1_ playing the correct sequence of long and short notes, then playing the correct pulse. _2_ being able to demonstrate aurally where the beat pulse is and how it modulates if there are any tempo fluctuations. If there is a pickup note, everyone on the other side of the screen should be able to *hear* that it is a pickup even if they don't know that section of the piece. Tecnically speaking, that means that you might use half the amount of bow on the pickup that you use on the following downbeat, even though they may both be eighth notes.
    "Nervous Rhythm is extremely common in auditions. This is the tendency to shorten any long note value (or rest) and rush on to the next note. EVERYONE does it sometime. If you know that going in, you can take precautions against it. DON'T THINK THAT YOU DON'T HAVE THAT PROBLEM.
    "When working up an audition you must use a tape recorder. You must sing phrasing and gradual crescendos over and over until they're convincing with your voice, then make it so with the instrument." Taping these attempts will let you listen to your self and see how close you're coming to what you *think* you're doing. If you don't use a tape recorder and someone else at the audition does, who do you suppose is going to hear themselves better and be more prepared?

    Always use a metronome in your preparations. Use a tuner, and have it playing the tonic of the excerpt you're practicing. Having a tuner with a needle moving on each note doesn't teach you or your ear anything and is not necessarily "in tune" either, where a tonic lets your ear help you actually be in tune with the something, the key of the piece, and yourself.

    The more auditions you take, the more you get used to nervousness. Go out of your way to perform often and get used to being "on the spot." You need to practice *performing* to get better at performing.

    As far as repertoire, an auditioning bassist can expect to practice the *complete* bass parts to the following (among others):

    Bach: Orchestral Suite #2
    Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra
    Beethoven: All Symphonies, but most notably
    #s 3, 5, 7, 9
    Berlioz: Symphonie Phantastique,
    Roman Festival Overture
    Brahms: Symphonies 1 & 2 most often,
    occasionally 3 or 4
    Bruckner: Sym: 5, 8, 9
    Haydn: Sym: #88
    Mahler: Sym: 2, 5
    Mendelssohn: Sym: #3(Scottish) & 4(Italian)
    Mozart: Sym: 35(Haffner), 39, 40, 41
    Shostakovich:Sym: 5
    Schubert: Sym: C major ("The Great")
    Smetana: Overture "The Bartered Bride"
    Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Don Juan,
    Also Sprach Zarathustra
    Tchaikowsky: Sym: #4

    Bach: Violin Concerto #2
    Britten:Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
    Ginastera: Variationes Concertantes, Concerto per Corde
    Haydn Symphonies #6, 7, 8, 31, 45
    Mahler: Symphony #1
    Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
    Prokofiev: Lt. Kije, Romeo and Juliet suites
    Saint-Saens: Le Carnaval des Animaux
    Stravinsky: Pulcinella
    Verdi: Othello, Rigoletto


    [This message has been edited by kpo (edited June 06, 2000).]
  7. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    Let me just say, kpo, that your posting was fantastic. Thanks a lot.
  8. Kouss


    Apr 11, 2000

    Any suggestions on fun and challenging solo pieces to work on?

    ***Here are some good pieces to work on:
    Usually the 1st movements of the Koussevitzky, Dragonetti, Bottesini, Vanhall, and the Dittersdorf (E MAJOR!). There are others but these are the most common. Also the solo bach pieces are good, try the cello suites or the Gamba Suites Transcribed for Bass. (I like the Bernat Version or the Cello Suites!!! It also gets gets you some tenor clef practice! hehe)
  9. Kouss


    Apr 11, 2000
    Try playing for more people. Give recitals or just play for your friends (in a serious manner!)
  10. KPO's response is dead-on, from what my teachers have told me. Particularly, the rhythmic mistakes. Typically, these types of bonehead mistakes, like shortening the value of long notes, are the quickest way to hear, "thank you, next." I would just add that some of these issues (not all, of course) are the result of bow proportioning. Leave yourself enough bow to get through the long notes so that you're not changing notes, or cutting off a phrase simply because you're out of bow!

    Also, sustaining long notes is important. And this is an issue of having strength in the upper half of the bow.
  11. gobffl


    Feb 25, 2004
    i have not done a lot of addutions but all i can say is that everyone is nervous. don't worry about playing bad. just relax and the music will flow out of your bass better than ever. after the addution you might think that you screwed up but in truth it was hardly noticable. just relax and if you have prepated you will do great
  12. KPO

    That sounds scary, but also true. Basically I gues the message is one should strive to play all important orchestral parts perfectcly in tune, in time, and musically , be a virtuoso soloist, have the tone that the orchestra wants, be less nervous than everyone else, and be lucky. I heard that the odds of someone landing a proffesional orch. gig are 1 in 50 assuming they are university graduates etc. That means that if you take 50 auditions, a person will land a job somewhere, sometime, hopefully. Even though hundreds apply for the big city jobs, the same hundreds are auditioning for every major gig in the country presumably so the odds arn't as bad as they might seem at first.

    I am suitably anxious. I have to make this work out for me. I'm starting to question the validity of practicing anything but audition material. Etudes, scales?, why bother. Just learn the parts by wrote!

  13. C-bus


    Oct 12, 2004
    Columbus, OH
    Do not give up on your fundamentals! These are things that keep you grounded and allow you to learn and excel at what you need to play for auditions (and everything else too). It's amazing what as little as 30 minutes a day of scales, shifting, Sevcik and long tones can do for your overall level of playing. Sure, the amount of audition material that must be mastered can be overwhelming, but abandoning fundamentals will hurt in the short and the long run! Take the time. It's like brushing your teeth - do it every day and you keep them for life!

  14. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    Cerberus is right. You might also combine the two ideas by breaking each excerpt down into its component skills and practice those at microscopic speeds before reassembling them. For example, my current warmup is the eighth note passages in the Beethoven 5 third movement at 40 to the sixteenth. Bob Gladstone was big on this.
  16. Hey KPO,

    I wasn't really being that serious, just venting my frustration and disillusionment mainly. Is it by "rote" or by "wrote"? I can never remember. My natural tendency is to play more rather than less technical excercises, scales, arpeggioes, etc so I will never get away from that. It occurrs to me though that Western music is in effect mainly scales, chromatic and diatonic, arpeggioes and sequences, so like you say any tricky bit of orchestral part or solo is like an excersise any way if you isolate it an repeat it. Lately I'm really trying to concentrate on scales and arps. at different tempi and with different bowings and fingering etc. I could play scales for hours. It's kind of like meditation. Very good for the intonation too and stamina too.

  17. Everbody

    Just to clarify, when I mentioned the one in 50 thing, What I really ment was (I think this is what I was told), that of college music graduates, the statisical likelly hood of one being able to make their living in some type of full time group performance job is 1 in 50. 1 in 1000 for soloists. This was specifically aimed at classical vocalist though. I extended it to instrumentallists as well. I think the odds of making it as a bass soloists are a lot worse than 1 in 1000!

    Hope that helps.

  18. Ok, so you're kidding little bit, but hey, there can still be no "set odds" - if you take 50 auditions but are still not in control of both the bass AND your nreves, you're not going to win a spot just on endurance!
    Just keep doing the work... I'll see some of you at St. Louis in December 2004?
  19. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Which date?

    I'll be there on the 13th.
  20. I also asked for the 13th. We'll see how it all works out after the "application deadline"....

    St. Louis would be an AWESOME job: great bass section in a great orchestra in a great city with a low cost of living! You're essentially getting paid as much as Chicago or New York, since the cost of living is so much higher! According to bankrate.com it costs 31% more to live in Chicago than in St. Louis.

    Plus St. Louis has some great pubs and brewers who are trying to make good beer to offset all that crap from Anheuser-B!

Share This Page