FAQ auditioning with an orchestra
How do you prepare yourself if you have to audition? It takes special skills and preparation, both instrumentally and mentally. Audition often and learn from every experience.
The procedure at an audition
Before the audition you are assigned a practice room. Try to relax, close yourself off from the sounds around you and follow your own preparation routine. Ask beforehand whether the pianist is present to accompany you or if you can rehearse together. Usually, there are two audition rounds. In most cases the time you are granted is very short; a piece of solo concert and one or two fragments of an orchestral part. Sometimes you play the first round behind a screen. In the second round, there is more auditioning time available.
Preparing the audition
Auditioning is putting up a tremendous performance: you have to be able to play your audition program under all circumstances. Also make sure you can try out your auditioning program; play for critical colleagues and friends. You can also take an auditiontraining, so that you know on what matters you must pay attention. The amount of preparation time you need to take is very personal. Some take weeks off, others do their preparation aside from other work.
Tension does all sorts of things to your body which can influence your performance in a negative way. It is part of you professionalism as an (orchestral) musician to control that. If you want to be comfortable in your own body on your audition, you can pay attention to that beforehand. Lessons in Yoga, Tai-Chi, Feldenkrais, or Alexander technique can be helpful.
If you have previously auditioned successfully, then try to follow the same procedure the next time. If you don’t make the audition, then try to figure out how that happened. For instance, ask someone from the audition committee for comment, constructive criticism and pointers. Do this shortly after the audition, so that the person in question still has a fresh image of you. Maybe your playing was qualitatively good enough, but someone else was selected.
An important factor in the ultimate selection is the vision of the conductor, the artistic director and the audition committee. Also the impression you make personally can influence the decision. After all, you have to take a certain place within the orchestra.
Everyone playing in an orchestra has at one time auditioned. Continue to have faith in your own talents to reach your goal.
All orchestras need replacements from time to time as well. If you have the right contacts you may just be asked sometime. Of course this depends on your own qualities, but you also need a bit of luck. Don’t hesitate to make use of the contacts you have! You can also write an open letter to the orchestras of your choice, offering your services. Send a CV along explaining your course of study and relevant work experience. Some orchestras even hold replacement auditions. If you get through that successfully then you are put on a list of regular substitutes.