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How to Prepare for an Orchestra Audition

How to Prepare for an Orchestra Audition

Whether you are a young student, seasoned amateur, or a professional, there are steps you can take to ensure you are properly prepared for a successful orchestra audition. Good planning will help eliminate the jitters, give you confidence, and help you relax, all of which will aid your performance. It’s important to prepare the music, of course, but you should prepare your instrument and your mind, as well.

Get your Instrument in Shape

About a month before your audition, consider a trip to your luthier for an instrument check. He or she will carefully go over your instrument and check for several things, such as damage, wear and tear, sound post position, ensure the pegs work properly. If there is an open seam or if you need a repair that will require you to leave your instrument, you’ll have plenty of time and not have to worry about it not being fixed in time. Do you need new strings? Depending on how much you play and your level, your strings could last you just a few months or as long as a year. If you’re playing every day, you might not even notice your strings losing their vibrant tone. Numerous people have come into our shop and state that their instrument sounds bad, or dead. Oftentimes, it’s the fact that the strings are very old. Is your bow in proper condition? Completely loosen your bow, hold it horizontally and look to see if the hair is hanging below the stick. If it is, your hair is stretched and you should consider a rehair. The hair will need some time to adjust so planning this four weeks before will leave you adequate time to make an appointment, have your equipment checked and serviced, if need be. The Long Island Violin Shop will look at your equipment upon request, free of charge.

Proper size

If you are a young student, or a parent of a young student, make sure they are playing on the proper size instrument. Discuss with the teacher if upsizing is needed and if so, when should it be done. We have an extensive rental program and there is no charge for going up in size. Playing on the correct size instrument will help optimize your playing and your tone. Children grow quickly and it is never a good idea to go up in size a few days before an audition so be sure to check sizing well in advance.

Prepare your mind

Assuming that you have been working on your audition music for some time, prepare mentally. Envision yourself playing it successfully. Don’t have negative thoughts. Every time you pick up your instrument, play your best, as if it was the audition. If it helps, picture yourself on a stage, performing, and play your as well as you can. Your mindset is critical. Think about your audition, take a deep breath, relax, take a moment to set your mind, then place the bow on the string, and then start when you are ready. It will only take a few seconds for you to transition and there is no need to rush. You need to be ready and you need to practice being ready. Practice being relaxed every time you play so that you don’t enter the room stressed. Take your time during your practice session. Don’t just pick up and play and don’t stress and be nervous. Bring the bow to the string and start when you’re ready. If you don’t do this, you’re reinforcing bad habits. Crashing the bow into the string, playing with stress will affect your bow arm, your tone, your vibrato in a negative way. It’s best to try and always be relaxed when playing, not just in an audition.

Practice Tips

If you have learned to tune your instrument on your own, tune carefully. If you need help, use a tuner or work with your teacher to learn to tune. Pitch work is important and will make your playing sparkle. Look at the key signature of your piece and warm up playing a scale in that key. Play scales every time you practice. Use a metronome, even for scales, and take the tempo down until you feel comfortable. When you work on your piece, ensure that you have the rhythm correct and then work your way up to the proper tempo. You cannot play something fast if you cannot play it slowly.

Look over your music and really learn to practice it properly. Are there sections that you stumble through? If so, learn to mark your music. For example, maybe use a red pencil and put a star where you struggle. Maybe put check marks in the margins and work on those lines, whatever works for you. If there are three marked parts, work on a different one at the beginning of each practice section. Learn the last measure and work backwards, play the last measure, then the last two, then the last three. If there are techniques or skills that you don’t feel comfortable with, be sure to go over them with your teacher.

Work in front of a mirror. Look at your hand position, look at your technique. How can you improve? Record yourself and then watch and listen to yourself play. It may be very different that you imagined and it may help you fix aspects of your performance that you don’t like.

Consider memorizing your music. It will be internalized and allow you to concentrate on listening and performing and not reading.

The Long Island Violin Shop has a YouTube channel full of videos with practice tips. Please visit the channel and subscribe so that you know when new ones are uploaded.

Why not have a mock audition? Dress in the clothes you plan to wear, parade out to your living room and perform for your family and friends. Smile, have fun, ask for their feedback. Have someone record your session, replay it and make notes on what you want to work on.

Last Thoughts

You’ve practiced, you’ve learned the music, and you feel confident. The night before your big event, get adequate rest! Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. You want to be well rested and refreshed. Plan to arrive early. Anything can happen that can cause a delay. Your instrument needs a little bit of time to acclimate to the environment and you will want to warm up without feeling rushed.

These simple tips and tricks can help you achieve your goals and help you do your best at your audition.

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