Audition FAQ’s for Teachers

Auditions, festivals and competitions have been established for varied purposes. Some events have been created to provide an assessment for private students, while others have been designed to select the top performers for a particular program or recital. The most competitive events might award cash prizes or scholarships, as well as performance opportunities. In every situation the goal is the same for the student: to present the most technically proficient and artistic performance possible. 

There are a number of things teachers can do to help students achieve a positive performance experience:

PLAN AHEAD! Allow sufficient learning time. It is far better to learn the music early and put it away for a few weeks while waiting for the audition, than trying to memorize and polish the musical details just before the event.

CHOOSE WISELY! Select repertoire that represents the student’s abilities well.

  • Avoid pieces that are too challenging technically or interpretively as students will be judged on their mastery over the elements in their chosen repertoire.
  • Consider reviving older pieces that have not been performed and take them to a more detailed level of preparation for a performance.

BE SELECTIVE! Involve the student in the selection process.

  • Select music that the student loves, that will engage their imagination and that they will enjoy practicing on a long-term basis.
  •  Most events require two contrasting pieces from different historical periods. Be sure the pieces contrast in technique, tempo, character and style, and work well together as a set. (Think of it as a short program being presented.)

HAVE A PRACTICE PLAN! Monitor the student’s practice prior to the event, looking for consistent and productive time with the instrument. Set periodic goals along the way.

  • If memory is required, start early.  Experiment with different memory strategies.
  • Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst. Develop a routine to handle those memory slips and “floating mistakes” that will happen.

STAY WITH IT! Avoid changing the repertoire at the last minute. It is much better to have ‘lived with’ the repertoire for a while than to try something new at the last minute.

REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE! Rehearse everything from stage presence – entering the performance space — to taking time to think before playing that first note.

  • Have selections learned/memorized early enough and provide opportunities for the student to perform them before the ‘main event.’
  • If playing with an accompanist, do so often.
  • Encourage regular and consistent detail practice and performance practice, especially the weeks and days immediately before the event.
  • Record the student….often!

BE READY! Make sure the student is rested for the event (no sleepovers the night before!)

In his book, “The Musician’s Way,” educator/author/guitarist Gerald Klickstein states: To be artistically prepared for performances, we have to choose music that fits our style and level of ability, and then learn it so deeply that we can deliver every phrase with conviction.

The most spendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval.

~Denis Waitley, motivational speaker and author

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