Auditions: Prep, Prep, and More Prep

Thinking of the NJASK test my students will be taking early next month, I remembered an old quote I learned years ago: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. Of course, I’m not one to believe in luck, but I do believe that the opportunity to succeed is out there for those who not only look for it, but also are prepared when opportunity finds them. My school is scheduled to administer the NJASK tests to all our 3-6 grade students, and I’m sure the teachers, parents, and adminstration will be wishing them “good luck” before they begin. We all know that it is not luck that will determine how well they do, but how much they have been prepared by their teachers, and how much they have prepared themselves by studying and completing their assignments.

As a musician, the first thing I think of when I hear the word “test” is the synonym “audition”. By now, college auditions are in full swing and students are auditioning all over the world to get into the conservatory of their choice. Whenever I was about to take an audition, the idea of preparation meeting opportunity always stuck in my head whenever my competition would wish me a courtesy “good luck”, whether they meant it or not. I thought, since the opportunity of getting into this school had already presented itself, all I had left was my preparation. Since I had absolutely no control over how my competition were to perform, all I could focus on was how great I could make myself. I learned that if I went into an audition knowing that I had prepared 100 percent to the best of my ability, then I gained the confidence to do my best no matter what happened. Of course, I didn’t always have a great audition, but since I knew that had nothing to do with lack of preparation, I left without any regrets.

As both a performer and an educator, I can say without hesitation that preparation is the key to a successful audition. The other advice that I’ve learned over the years is during an audition, don’t think! All the thinking you do should be done during practice, so by the time the audition comes, you should be able to perform on instinct. Many people start second guessing themselves when the real pressure of the audition is upon them, as opposed to the more relaxed environment of the solitary practice room. Speaking of which, performing the audition material in front of other people also is a good preparation tool. Finally, enter the audition room with the attitude that if the worst happens, it’s really not the end of the world. Doing poorly at an audition can only serve to instruct on what we can do to make the next audition better. Many symphony orchestra members comment on how they lost many auditions before they won their position. The key is no matter how hard things get, don’t get up! Perseverance, preparation, and confidence are all essential for a successful performance. So get out there, do your best, and enjoy the journey!

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