Region and Audition Strategies for Success!
So – your region auditions are coming up, or your college auditions, or end-of-the-semester juries are just around the corner. That means your heart might be pounding a little as you read these words! And that’s ok – that’s a good sign. You care, you’re invested, and this matters to you. These are all important factors. Putting yourself out there for possible rejection is a brave thing to do, and there’s just no way to authentically grow without taking this risk.
Let’s take a step back and put on our white lab coats for a second…so that we can be objective in a little experiment. At this point, with just a few days to spare, what exactly are some factors we may be able to control? As you know, I like to make lists…so let’s consider these possible options:
1. How much rest you get between now and then. Ok – so you might have a couple of finals and/or big assignments between now and the big event. What if you push a little extra now at the beginning of the week so you can get additional (or better!) rest closer to the audition?
2. Speaking of rest, as Jeanne Baxtresser notes, we are athletes of the small muscles. Therefor, we need to make sure these muscles get time to recover and rest. This is not the time to double your practice time. Take breaks, make sure you stretch before a session, and set a timer to avoid tackling too much at once. See Janet Horvath’s intelligent article on injury prevention.
3. What kind of fuel are you putting in your car? If you expect to go the distance to have a rewarding road trip, you’ll probably make sure you fill the tank, check the oil, look at the battery, make sure you’re not carrying excess baggage in the trunk, maybe even get a car wash, clean out the interior to make things comfortable…Do we take care of our cars better than we do our bodies? That’s probably fuel for another blog, but for now consider what you eat and drink between now and the audition. Even if you think it’s a little boring, drink lots of water, eat vegetables and protein, avoid processed everything, watch the salt. Again, it’s probably not the best time to start a diet or quit caffeine, but just keep things moderate for now. Bring water and fortifying snacks to keep your blood sugar stable.
4. Like all performance experiences, make sure your clothing is comfortable. Are your shoes sturdy enough so that you feel grounded and completely able to perform your best? Does that shirt bunch a little or your earrings clank? These sound like silly considerations, but anything that’s going to take your attention away from your objective is a distraction. Pick something out to wear and play through the audition list. How do you feel?
5. Manage your remaining practicing and preparation wisely. Not sure how to go about this? Start by making a recording – just record yourself, using your phone or laptop. There are tons of great apps out there (and THAT’s another blog entry!). Write down your observations after you’ve played, and then listen to the recording. How accurate were you? Did you notice other things? Important aspects to consider are rhythms, intonation, dynamics, note lengths, and accuracy. Write out a few objectives for yourself to address in your next practice session, and make them achievable so you feel empowered but not overwhelmed. That might mean just selecting ONE big goal, not twelve small ones. Be strong!
6. Image your material. This is one of the most powerful practicing strategies I know: study the score, no flute, and go through slowly and hear everything exactly as you want to play it. Nail each rhythm, place every note in the most resonant place, sing the phrase. Image it like this until you feel confident you’ve created a positive and successful track record! If there’s even the tiniest hiccup or hesitation, that’s information: spend a little more time working out that spot by imaging, s-l-o-w-l-y and purposefully.
7. Take a break! Do something to reward your inner artist, something that’s really fun and inspiring and meaningful to you, something that reaffirms why you’re doing this and why you care about music. Do this each day between now and you-know-when.
Now, go out there and have a good time playing! There is absolutely nothing we can control about so much in a performance experience, such as when we’re asked to play, how the panel might react, how many other responsibilities might be on our plate that week…however, managing things like this list above can help us feel empowered, prepared, and able to manage the little unpredictable things that can really add up. Let me know how things go for you!