Tips for taking military band auditions
LOOKING FOR THE SECRET TO WINNING A MILITARY BAND JOB?
Unfortunately you probably won't find it here. In fact, you probably won't find it anywhere. The fact is there just aren't any secrets to winning. Furthermore I'm probably the last guy to know any "secrets" to winning an audition on account of I won the very first audition I ever took. I don't really have the trial and error experiences that some may have after taking numerous auditions.
Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not saying that to boast about anything. In fact, I'm probably just a testament to how unpredictable audition results can be and also that there is no one concrete way to win one. I just happened to be the best player on that day. However, I do believe my preparation got me there, not just destiny.
Now, below you'll find tips and things to keep in mind based off of my experience and the preparation it took to get to where I am. I am in no way saying this is the only way to do it. I'm just providing a resource for players that are serious about playing professionally and want to do everything they can to get there. Hopefully it helps!
Tips and Observations
#1 If you're going to take an audition, go big or go home. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort getting ready for the audition. You can't just casually take an audition. The mindset that's required to win an audition is that of total dedication and focus. Make sure your loved ones know so they're not upset about the time spent in the practice room instead of with them.
#2 Surround yourself with people who have done it and are successful. Reach out to people who have won auditions. Play for them. Take lessons with them. Ask for advice. That's what I did. In my experience, most professional players are more than willing to help you out, including myself now. There's this stigma that pro players are all cocky and unapproachable. The worst thing they can do is say no. Just find someone else. And it doesn't even have to be a euphonium player. It's all good advice even if it's not for your specific instrument. They've been there, done that and you'd be a fool not to tap into that resource.
#3 Get your face in shape. Auditions can be grueling on the chops. The last thing you want to have happen is have your chops drop out when you're called back for the finals and have to play through the highest excerpt again. Be able to play through the entire excerpt packet 2 or 3 times before getting a little tired. Whatever that means for you with regards to getting in shape, make it happen.
#4 Have your tempos down. Be able to tap out each excerpt's tempo on a metronome perfectly. One of the biggest deal breakers I've heard at auditions is either guys having bad time or bad tempos. Record yourself often to check yourself. Furthermore, don't play a fast excerpt as fast as you can in the audition. Be able to play it faster if they ask you to. You're not going to impress the panel by playing everything 20 clicks faster than everyone else.
#5 Know your role. Know the rep front and back and where the excerpt fits in with the ensemble. Is it a solo? Are you doubling someone? Who are you doubling with? It's kind of a given. If you don't do the leg work ahead of time and come in playing too loud on a excerpt that's supposed to be a blending part, you'll be an easy elimination.
#6 Play for people every day. You should be playing excerpts in front of people every single day leading up to the audition. Doesn't even have to be an accomplished musician. Play in front of your mom or the janitor. It'll give you just enough of a concentration break to mimic a live audition in front of a panel. However, you do want to play in front some people that make you nervous as well. If you're a college student, play in front of your whole studio or better yet, your entire brass faculty. Have them write comments and make sure you record yourself every time.
#7 Don't go in the audition thinking the panel wants you to fail. Trust me on this one, it's exactly the opposite. Even though they may sound short and emotionless when they speak, they actually want you to nail it. They want you to make their job as easy as possible. Ultimately they want to hire someone the day of the audition. They most certainly don't want to have to have another audition because no one brought their "A" game.
#8 Don't worry about other people in the warm up room. Don't change everything about your approach to the excerpts because you heard someone next to you playing everything twice as fast. Stick to your guns. You've prepared the right way and you have a plan. No need to change everything because of someone else. Furthermore, don't let them intimidate you. If they're at the audition with you, they probably don't have a job either. If they do and they end up winning your audition, well, I guess their old job is available now too.
#9 Don't get discouraged if you don't win the audition or even make it past the first round. Auditions can be a crapshoot sometimes. Always use it as a learning experience. Try to get comments from the panel if you can. Even if you nailed the audition, you might just not have the sound they were looking for that day. If you prepared literally the best you possibly could then there's nothing to be down about. If it's the opposite, then you know what you need to do. Regardless, you should feel like you couldn't have done any better than you did. That's what preparation is all about.
#10 Lastly, don't put all your eggs in the audition circuit basket. Although I mentioned earlier to put everything into audition preparation that you can, be good at other things as well. Don't put your entire employability in winning an audition. In case you haven't noticed (if you're serious about auditions, you've already noticed), there aren't many jobs in the professional music world. The odds are certainly against you. Please don't take this the wrong way, however. I certainly don't mean to discourage you. It would behoove you, however, to become multifaceted in your career field so you have many options for employment. That's pretty basic advice anyone with discretion would/should give. Passion only gets you so far. At the end of the day, you gotta make a living.