My approach to audition preparation began in a sixth grade oboe class in Texas at the end of the school year. I was preparing six first-year oboe students for placement auditions that would determine which of the three seventh grade bands they would play in the next year. The two oboes chosen for the top band would be my students, as would the two oboes in the middle band. And, no matter how well they played, the remaining two oboes would be placed in the bottom band. They would be my students, too. There was no way to avoid the disappointment they would experience. My heart ached for those young oboe players. I didn't even know which two it would be.
How do you prepare students for that kind of outcome?
We begin by framing the purpose of an audition as:
To determine – in the opinion of one or two judges – how well you played on ONE day in comparison with how well the other players played on that ONE day.
We define audition success as:
To present your playing to the best of your ability within the challenges of the audition procedures.
We set goal of the audition preparation process as:
To develop the precision, musicality, and discipline that it takes to play well in a challenging circumstance.
We work on:
Warm-up strategies: ignore those warm-up room hotshots!
Scales and sight-reading strategies: well-learned scales are free points at an audition!
The importance of tempo control: how to avoid rushing
Auditions from the other side of the judges’ desk: what do judges listen for?
Audition Math™ and how to optimize your audition score
Breath management: what to do when the adrenaline kicks in
What if you DO make a mistake? How to recover gracefully and keep going
What is "Audition Math™?"
"Audition Math™" is simply learning how the judging system works and playing in a way that earns the highest score. In every judging system, taking the deduction for playing a bit too slowly, but playing precisely and musically will earn a much higher score than rushing through the solo and making a few little mistakes here and there.
At numerous auditions my students have placed first by playing more slowly than the other players, but earning the highest score. One of these students who placed first in his district by playing slowest asked, "But isn't that cheating?" No!
But the real advantage to"Audition Math™" is that students learn to listen carefully to their own practicing, aiming for precision and musicianship. The audition preparation process makes them better musicians.
Services and Scheduling
I provide audition preparation for woodwind students who may not be studying regularly with a private instructor. If students are currently studying with another instructor, I ask them to get permission from their teacher to work with me. It's a matter of professional courtesy.
We schedule eight 30- or 60-minute individual sessions at weekly intervals, culminating in a mock audition live or online.
The instruction can be online or at my studio in Dedham. If the weather permits, the lesson will be outdoors on the deck in back of my home. If the lesson is indoors, I ask all students to take a home Covid-19 test on the day of the lesson; I'll be happy to provide the tests. Thank you!
I also provide audition workshops onsite at schools. Workshops include a 1-hour lecture about the audition process and a 1-hour master class coaching woodwind students on their audition music.
Audition Preparation Fees
One 1-hour session: $65
Two months of 1-hour sessions, paid in advance: $60/session
One 1/2-hour session: $40
Two months of 1/2-hour sessions paid in advance: $35/session