General preparation strategies for competitions and auditions!
No matter what state you live in, here are a few ideas to help you prepare for all-state and other auditions. Be sure to check back for the latest updates as I tend to "chew" on things in my practicing...
1. Break things down. What are the most challenging aspects for you in each etude, or whatever material you're preparing? Find a few ways you could approach things to not be overwhelmed by all the details. Divide them into sections, find the patterns, separate material by motive and key area (not sure what that means? See if there are parts that sound or even just LOOK similar), identify the challenges - articulation? dynamics? register changes?
2. As always, be a rockstar in your etude keys and all areas related. Make Taffanel & Gaubert Daily Exercises patterns in these keys your best friends! Practice these keys in different scale forms (like no. 4 from the Taffanel & Gaubert, 5-note sales (no. 1), in thirds (like no. 6)/fourths/fifths/sixths (the bottom page of no. 6), in various forms of arpeggios, and in the Reichert exercises. Practice the minor keys in both harmonic and melodic forms. Owning these keys and scale forms will make these etudes (and any audition material, or solo repertoire...in general, your musical life) much easier and save you practicing time in the long run.
3. Practice the gestures. This is especially helpful long groups of "fast notes." In each group, play the first note and connect it to the final note of the same group so that the interval is smooth and the last note releases cleanly. Try also just playing the note preceding the final note (especially helpful when you approach it by contrary motion). Identify the chromatic units, scale patterns, and the like. Write these in – use brackets, colors, or whatever helps you block things out and think of larger groups, vs. note-by-note.
4. Analyze this! Spend some time figuring out what each composer is outlining in each gesture, both in terms of melody and also harmony. Accidentals are frequently expressive, orbiting around notes they wish to highlight.
5. Stock up on some practicing strategies, such as the fantastic blog by Dr. Noa Kageyama:
Research-tested Practice Strategies that will Help You Learn New Pieces Faster
Slow practicing - does it really work?
The powerful strategy of mental practicing
Why analyzing your music helps you practice and play better
Eight things top practicers do differently
6. Go back through my blog to check out useful suggestions, such as this one on audition strategies and being an active listener.