Friday, November 20, 2009



Its college application season! For many of you this will mean college auditions are coming up in the next few months. This month I would like to share some thoughts about this process from the auditioner’s perspective, in the hope that this may give auditionees some insight into what goes on.


Let’s start by looking at the audition itself:

#1 and vitally important – the audition begins the moment you enter the room. You will project an image to the audition committee from that moment, potentially several minutes before you even play a note. Enter respectfully yet confidently, smile, make eye contact, and say hello. Organize yourself so that you have everything you need at your fingertips. Don’t rustle through a folder to find your audition sheet, don’t pull all your music out and organize it into the order you want. Have that all ready before you walk in. And of course, dress and act professionally.


Introduce yourself; name, where you are from, your intended major, and the pieces you have prepared for the audition (unless that is specified and you had no options).


#2 While you are performing;

Don’t give away your secrets! Don’t advertise mistakes by making a face, shaking your head, slumping your shoulders, etc. Once you have made a mistake there are only two options; the audition committee noticed it or they didn’t. If they did, they know you also noticed it so let it go. If they didn’t notice – don’t alert them!


Having said that, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I believe most university studio professors would much rather hear a musical, committed performance that may have a mistake or two, than a safe, note-perfect performance. Speaking for myself, when I hear auditions for incoming freshmen I am looking for potential as much as anything. It is usually quite easy to tell the difference between someone who may be exhibiting some problems due to lack of training or nerves and someone who is having problems due to lack of preparation. I look for someone who shows a command of the clarinet, but equally important to me is someone who clearly shows a love for music and a desire to commit to it.


#3 After you play:

Thank the audition committee. Gather your belongings and leave the room, remembering that the audition is not over until you are out of the room. Remain professional throughout. Finally, give yourself a BIG congratulations!!


Let’s back up now and look at the days and weeks prior to the audition.


#1 Preparation is everything!

Common sense, right? Yet it is surprisingly common for people to choose audition repertoire late in the process, to wait too long before beginning truly detailed practice. You need to give time and attention to all the details of your music as much in advance as possible. This will leave time for the pieces to mature, so your musicianship can shine through. At the audition you will want to be able to focus on music-making not note playing.


#2 Change the order:

Practice the pieces in different orders so you are able to play anything the committee might ask, in any order they ask it.


#3 Dress rehearsal:

Schedule a dress rehearsal for yourself. Gather friends and family and play through everything for them so you feel some of the excitement you’ll feel at the audition. This is a huge confidence booster. Preferably schedule this well in advance so you have time to deal with any problems that may come to light.


 I wish the best of luck to those of you who are applying and auditioning for college in the weeks ahead! This is a very exciting process – enjoy it!


Dr D