If you goal is to be a professional musician, you will have to perform several auditions of all kinds in the next few years. The goals and preparation will be slightly different depending on the audition you are taking. It can be an entrance examination for a school, a placement audition for the school orchestra, a summer program audition or a full time job. We will cover all of these one by one in this mini-series about auditioning. For some auditions, you can send an audio or video recording. This is another subject to be covered later. We will focus on live auditions for now.
Let's start with the entrance examination for a conservatory
For this kind of audition, you will normally have to play scales, one or two contrasting solo pieces and etudes. Some schools also ask for orchestral passages.
This is your chance to demonstrate your potential. Teachers will choose students depending on whether they think they can do something with you or not and how many places they have available in the class. It's not about being perfect and the most advanced students aren't always the ones getting the spots.
Teachers are looking for students who are not only talented but also confident, smart, well organized, hard working, dedicated and serious. You need to give the panel the impression that you have these qualities when you present yourself. They must not only like your playing, they must also like you. Play musically and take some risks, if something doesn't go well, ask if you can play it again, they want to hear what you can do so they'll give you another chance most of the time. Dress in a smart casual way without overdoing it! Answer all questions confidently without sounding arrogant. In other words, be polite and be yourself. That way, you should leave a good impression and maximize your chances to be accepted in the school.
It's a good idea to take a lesson or two with the teacher before the audition so you can see if you think you can learn something from him/her. Also, if the teacher already knows you and likes you, this will increase your chances.
After that,If you don't like the teacher, you better not waste your time auditioning for him/her!
I am associate principal horn of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the author of the progressive methods. I'm happy to share my experience as a horn player and teacher with you.