Have auditions been frustratingly hit or miss?
Where despite countless hours of practice and hundreds of perfect repetitions, your performances still fall short of the level of playing you know you’re capable of?
Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean you have to start practicing 12 hours a day.
It might just be that you need to make a few adjustments to your audition preparation process, and ensure that your practice is more balanced.
…and what does that mean, exactly?
Three practice “times”
Legendary violin pedagogue Ivan Galamian once wrote that practice has three parts, and that to be fully prepared for performances, we should be spending about an equal amount of time in each area.
The first part is conceptual – and involves figuring out what you want a piece to sound like (“interpreting time”).
The second is all about figuring out how to make that happen, by working out all the technical and mechanical issues involved (“building time”).
And the third (of which he said we usually do too little, too late), is making the shift from practice mode to performance mode, and training ourselves to be able to play things the way we want them to sound the very first time, without stopping, from beginning to end (“performing time”).
Never enough time…
The problem, of course, is that it’s really tempting to spend all of our time in that middle third, in an effort to play everything as “perfectly” as we can. Where we put off all the “musical stuff” or run-throughs in front of an audience until we have ironed out all of the technical details.
Which seems like a perfectly valid way to approach things – except that it leaves our practice extremely unbalanced. Which we often don’t realize until we walk on stage, and feel our confidence drain away as we start wishing we would have practiced more.
Of course, simply doing more of the same thing doesn’t usually solve the problem. In order to get different results, we often have to try a different approach.
Three phases of audition preparation
Rob Knopper is a percussionist. And over the course of 40-some auditions, developed an audition preparation process that culminated in his winning a position with the Met Opera Orchestra in 2011.
Rob’s process has three phases too. And like Galamian’s three “times,” is designed to prepare a musician for the specific demands of performing under pressure – not just for sounding good in the practice room.
Our conversations about this led to the development of a live, online, 8-week, semi-annual “Audition Bootcamp,” where we teach all the musical, physical, mental, and logistical nuts and bolts of how to prepare for auditions, competitions, and big performances – from the day you receive the list of repertoire, to the moment you finish your audition and walk off stage.
The “winter” Audition Bootcamp is currently closed for enrollment, but we plan to have another one in summer 2019. In the meantime, you can get started with our free “101” course. It’s a condensed, 1-week course in which you’ll explore some of the key elements of this 3-phase model, and begin developing a process that will enable you to go into your next audition with more confidence.
- How the right kind of score/recording research can help you perform more confidently on the day of the audition – and help you learn new repertoire a little bit quicker too.
- A few simple adjustments that can help make your work “stick” better from one day to the next.
- An approach to reviewing your recordings, that will not only make that whole process feel less discouraging, but ensure that no detail is overlooked in your preparation.
- Why learning how to “single-task” could help make you more “pressure-proof.”
- And more of the little details that help facilitate productive practice days.