HOW TO PASS MUSIC AUDITION
November 18, 2006 7:37am CST
1. Get the details on the job description This is one of the most important steps. If you know exactly what it is that the employer is looking for, you won't waste time, money, and energy presenting the wrong package. There is no point in submitting a tape of your local blues band if the employer is looking for a cover band that plays all kinds of musical styles. Similarly, there is no point in applying as a clarinet player if the job description clearly indicates that woodwind players have to play saxophone, flute and clarinet. Also, if sight-reading is the main focus of the job you're applying for, there is no point in hoping you'll slip by simply because you can improvise like Charlie Parker. 2. Be flexible enough to present what's actually needed Let's assume that you got all the details on the job description and you realize that you don't exactly fit that description. It is probably wiser for you to take some time to try to fit the description, rather than trying anyway, hoping it'll pass somehow. Try to make changes to your line-up, add some repertoire or start a completely new project that’s geared to the job in question. 3. Audition only when you feel that you have a good chance of passing Often musicians apply for a job they are not qualified for. Now, you could argue that that's what auditions are for, and people couldn't possibly know in every case whether they are qualified or not. I agree, all I'm saying is that if the job description mentions that strong sight-reading skills are required for example, musicians should ask themselves how good their sight-reading skills really are and be honest about it. Being dishonest about what your skills really are can hurt you in more ways than one. Let's assume for a minute that you slip through the cracks and you end up in an orchestra but you can't cut the gig. First and foremost, you'll be humiliated in front of other musicians, you'll feel uncomfortable, you may actually feel guilty for not being able to do the job, and you will get fired on top of it, which will most likely kill your career before it's begun. (This happens all too often...) So if you are unsure about whether you are qualified or not, ask questions. Call the agency you are about to audition for and ask specific questions that will help you get a good picture of the job you're about to apply for. With that knowledge you can always postpone the audition and work on the skills that you may feel you're lacking. 4. Put some time and effort into preparing your best possible package This applies to bands, small ensembles, and solo entertainers. Often artists get turned down, not because they are bad entertainers, but because they didn't supply a package that's appealing, that can be viewed quickly and that presents exactly what was asked for in the beginning. Often this happens because the artist already has some demo laying around that could kind of qualify but not really, and instead of modifying it or recording a new one that fits the specifications, they send it in anyway. Usually, demo packages include the recording itself, which should present the exact repertoire you're planning to play on the gig, a short resume of each member, and a list of your repertoire. You won't impress people with fancy DVD animations or 12-page resumes, but rather with short examples of the repertoire that's asked of you, played with energy and skill. 5. Try to impress with your playing, not with your resume I would say 7 people out of 10 probably fall under this category. Simply put, a masters degree from the best school in the country won't get you a gig if you can't play, yet all too often do people try to sway the decision in their favor by mailing in overly long resumes stating all the famous people they've played with. You're doing yourself a disservice if you hype yourself up with your resume and you can't back it up later during the audition. 6. If you fail, accept the criticism and use it to prepare better for your next audition All the practicing in the world may sometimes not be enough to pass an audition. If that's the case, accept the reasons that you're given by the jury, and go home and practice those specific things. If they aren't forthcoming with specific reasons, ask questions. I think it's only fair that a jury tells you what your weaknesses are if they turn you down. I'll spare you the details of all the things we've heard from people that have been rejected. Just watch "American Idol", and you'll get a good idea of what we go through sometimes.