7 of Our Favorite Audition Preparation Tips!

Audition Preparation

Audition season is now upon us again…how exciting! Although this time can be really stressful, it can also be a time for growth and reflection in your playing, towards your goals, and much more. Here are a few of our favorite audition preparation tips to help you get into the best shape possible prior to your first audition!

🎶Have a Plan:

As soon as you get the list, develop a plan of how you want to tackle all of that music. Figure out which excerpts you already feel strong in and which ones will need some extra time and attention. Decide when you are going to play mock auditions for your friends, colleagues, and mentors so you can get feedback on a time scale that works for you personally. Have an idea of when you want to make sure everything is performance ready and be disciplined in working towards that goal.

🎶Listen to recordings:

Particularly with repertoire that you are less familiar with, find lots of great recordings to listen to so you know exactly how your part fits in. You will also get a better idea of what your performance tempo should be as well as how exposed your part would be if you were performing it with an ensemble. If possible, try to find recordings that the group you are auditioning for has made or with the music director of the ensemble and imitate their interpretation as best you can. Once you find recordings you like for each excerpt, practice along with the recording so you can pace how you’re playing the repertoire in context!

🎶Score Study:

Find copies of the scores as best you can for the excerpts on the list–this may be harder if the repertoire is not yet in public domain. Some great resources would be your local music library if you’re near a university, IMSLP, and even publisher’s websites. This will help you in figuring out the context of what is happening in your part. Are you accompanying a solo line? Are you the soloist? Are you creating texture or an effect? The score can help you to figure all of that out. Also, you might catch some mistakes in your version of the part that you’ll be able to get fixed before you audition!

🎶Practice with the metronome:

The metronome should be your best friend by now! It can be so helpful in developing pulse and there are so many great ways to use it as a tool. Trying to get a sense of the larger phrase structure? Have the metronome pulse on every other beat or only downbeats to make sure you are holding steady within your phrasing. Have a passage that is straight sixteenth notes? Try practicing it in other rhythms using the metronome, like treating it like it is in triplets or quintuplets. It can be really telling how even you are actually able to play something when you throw it into a different rhythmic pattern. It can also help freshen up practicing and make it more engaging and challenging, especially if it is an excerpt you have practiced for years.

🎶Be able to sing your part:

Being able to sing what you are playing can help a great deal in terms of phrasing and figuring out where you naturally would want to breathe. This can be especially helpful for musicians who don’t play a wind or brass instrument. And for those who do, it can be helpful in audiating your part as well! Also, try to be able to sing the other parts around you, too, especially if you are not the melody in that particular passage. Figure out how you would want to phrase the melody if you were and how you can make your part support that. 

🎶Record Yourself:

Get in the habit of starting to record yourself early in the process. It can be as short as a few challenging measures you’re working to nail consistently to the whole excerpt. By recording yourself, you’ll be able to hear details you can’t when you’re playing. For example, you can hear if you are really following the dynamics as much as you think you are, if you’re playing as evenly as the passage requires, if you are following the articulation that is indicated, or if you’re stumbling over a passage. By doing this, you can react more quickly to fixing these things for yourself rather than relying on someone else to tell you. You can also hear if you’re doing better than you expect, too!

🎶Maintain Your Self-Care:

While auditions are incredibly stressful for most of us, maintaining consistency in self-care can be really beneficial. Continue to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and drink enough water. Move your body regularly away from the instrument. Take plenty of breaks so give your mind and body time to recover during your detail oriented practice sessions. Spend time with friends and loved ones who help to lift you up and support you. Work on your mindset and find ways to define success for yourself that are not dependent on the outcome of the audition. And do things that are fun, too!


Audition season can be an exciting time, but it can also be one of the most difficult. Whether you win or lose, remember you are making huge strides in your playing and towards your goals with every audition that you take. We are cheering for you, always, and can’t wait to see you all do great things!


Written by Anna Dunlap

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