So, after the audition…

Congratulations to my percussion students who won seats in North Carolina Bandmasters Central District All-District ensembles! Each of the students did lots of work to make the audition a success. They put in many hours and much effort to learn the pieces, and worked on their technical skills to be ready for sight-reading, timpani tuning and rudiments. As the teacher, my job was simply to prepare the student for the “audition experience”. Taking care to make sure that the student can perform all of the scales and demonstrate any other required technical skills, can perform the solo pieces correctly and at tempo, and generally can make it through the audition process.

During the preparation and rehearsal frenzy leading up to the audition, we often lose sight of the best part of the experience, which is learning about ourselves as performers. During the audition, did we play the solo or excerpts well technically? How was our sight-reading? Were our hands (and ears) well controlled? Did the performance sound good? If not, why didn’t it? How did our perception of those things differ from that of the judges? Why did we do the audition? Was it required? Are we preparing for more demanding auditions to come? Are we simply trying to become better musicians?

We have good days and bad, and the best-prepared percussionists can play less than their best, no matter how hard they try. The key is finding out what makes us play so that the music sounds the best. My personal experience is that it is usually tied to a combination of motivation, feeling confident, and being as relaxed as possible during the performance. I encourage my students to perform as often as possible in as many different situations as possible, so that they become comfortable with the “act” of performing

Percussion students in the Raleigh area have many opportunities to rehearse and perform with school, community and church musical groups. All of these give the student a chance to perform before an audience. The more we play, the more comfortable we become with the experience of performing, and the better we are able to prepare ourselves for performing in all types of situations. In other words it’s good for us to play, play, play!!

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