Notes from a Master Class on Auditioning

This week I’ll be posting notes from various master classes I’ve attended over the years, covering such topics as orchestral auditions, college job interviews/applications, and performance anxiety.  Today’s notes come from a class by William VerMeulen given at the Round Top Festival Institute in the summer of 2003. Looking back over these notes I wish I’d either written more or just recorded the entire lecture! However, I think what’s here gives a good overview of the material presented in the class.

Audition Master Class with William VerMeulen, Round Top Festival Institute, 2003

  • The person with the largest “envelope,” and who stays within that envelope, wins the audition.
  • There is tremendous power in the words “I can.”
  • Play with controlled abandon.
  • Adopt a declarative attitude.
  • Audition for the right reasons.
  • Preparation: use penalties, and simulate the performance environment. Never stop at the point of a mistake, but continue through until the end of the excerpt. Stopping at the point of a mistake tells the brain that it is ok to make that mistake. Categorize the excerpts into three different groups based on how much work they need. Play for other people, and simulate the conditions of an actual audition.
  • Mental Preparation: Use positive self talk, and personify your negative side – this makes it easier to get rid of him or her. [My note: some people even have a separate chair for their negative, judgmental selves in the practice room. Thus, one can more easily tell this aspect of your personality to be quiet and get out of your way.]
  • Use affirmation cards. Write short, positive sentences saying what you want to accomplish in the present tense form. Say the phrase(s) ten times in the mirror morning and night. The law of accommodation is stronger than the law of reality.
  • Mental training and visualization are incredibly important.

These ideas have helped me quite a bit in auditions, and in preparing for other performances. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. For some more resources on auditioning, check out the online index to The Horn Call: Journal of the International Horn Society, and search by subject for “auditions.”  Other useful publications include The Inner Game of Tennisby W. Timothy Gallwey, Audition Success, by Don Greene, and Horn Playing from the Inside Out, by Eli Epstein.

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