With YAAOrchestra auditions coming up September 14th and 16th, we sat down with Maestro Kris Sanz to hear his tips on nailing the audition and why you should eat a banana! Register now for orchestra or vocal auditions. Also, check out this blog to hear what our Artistic Director, Rolando Sanz, has to say about nailing your vocal audition here.
What should students do to prepare for an audition for orchestra?
The best way to prepare for an audition is the same way you prepare for a concert. You need to know the music so well that it comes to you like breathing. I always recommend kids perform in front of their peers if they can, or teachers, or parents. Even sometimes for the younger kids, we recommend they set up their stuffed animals for a concert, just so they can get a feel of performing and being under that pressure. Then, when you get into the audition room, it helps to ease that pressure.
And then my secret, which I pass on to all my orchestra kids, is bananas. Bananas have natural beta blockers in them. So most musicians usually eat a banana before they go out on stage. It fills your stomach if you're hungry, but it also has those beta blockers in there to kind of calm you down.
Besides bananas, any other tips for alleviating your nerves before an audition?
Before auditions for high school age groups, they usually put all the musicians into one room. And this can be very intimidating because kids could be playing more difficult solos in front of them, or there are some kids who will actually posture in the middle of the room and play really loudly and intensely to kind of scare off the competition. So I always recommend finding whatever corner you can, come up with some kind of routine before the audition, whether it's playing through scales or just playing some of the softer passages.
What I don't recommend is to go into the practice room and find the hardest part and just sit there and play it over and over again. Because since it is the hardest part, by the time you get into the room, you will be tired and that's all you'll be focusing on. And whoever is judging you knows kids make mistakes, and so they're expecting that. But if you focus all your energy on that one passage, all the other passages will suffer.
Make sure that whatever you do is highly musical. I know personally for me, that's what I'm looking for. Because anyone can learn technique over time. But being musical is something that is inherent and harder to learn.
What are lessons that can be learned from an audition, especially if it didn't go well or if you didn't get in?
I think this is true for both the orchestral and the vocal side, and that is-- the wrong repertoire. You want to pick some repertoire that actually shows off your strengths. A lot of kids try to come in and play these really fast pieces. And they can kind of play them. But at the same time, it doesn't come off. To me it shows a lack of preparation and a lack of maturity, because they are auditioning to show off and not to show what they can actually do.
We don't need to be impressed. We just need to know that they are musicians and they are musical on the inside. Because a big part of our job is teaching them, and so we want to find someone who is teachable.