Auditions

Dear Sherman,

I’m auditioning for a youth orchestra in September, and I just
would like to know if you have any advice on preparation for the
audition, and do you have any advice for the audition day, meaning
looking nervous etc.

Thanks for your query on auditions, preparation, advice for the
audition day, and “looking nervous.”

There are, of course many ways to answer your questions; however
considering your age (14) and your experience, I would think that
the first advice I might ask is from my private teacher. If she
has your confidence as a teacher, she will probably give you the
best answers. However. what I would do if I were you is first and
foremost make sure that you go into the audition with your best
quality of sound. That in itself means many things. A new reed
does not necessarily mean your best sound.

I studied with Fernand Gillet , principal oboist with the Boston
Symphony orchestra during their “glory” years. He was a remarkably
consistent player and was the first oboist to play, “Peter and the
Wolf”, “Le Tombeau de Couperin” and many other premier recordings
with the BSO. What he said was “NEVER SACRIFICE THE SOUND FOR A
NEW REED!” What that means is don’t try a new reed because you
think it may make you sound better, for regardless of the quality
of the new reed, getting used to it during an audition can mean
very bad news to you, while a reed you are used to is one that you
can be more sure of. Also PLAY WITH YOUR BEST SOUND. It is the
most important thing looked for by anyone, especially auditioners.

Another story, true. In the late 40s (believe it or not) while I
was in Brookline High School near Boston, I was selected to go to
the “All New-England Band”. The guest conductor was William D.
Revelli, conductor of the University of Michigan and the most
renown band director of that time. We clarinetists were seated in
alphabetical order, and I was sitting about eight chairs in from
the end. Dr. Revelli went from the person sitting in the first
chair and asked only that each player in succession play the
tuning note (Bb concert). When he got to me, I played the note,
only the Bb, and he said, “Take first chair”. There were no
further changes though he listened to all of the clarinetists.

I still remember because it was really thrilling, and I’m sure he
chose me because he considered the quality of sound to be
superior, perhaps purer and more characteristic than the others.

This is for you to think about: SOUND MATTERS MOST AT AN AUDITION.
Not knowing you, I will not answer the “nervous” problem, though
usually all young players are nervous, and you must think that
everyone is at least as nervous as you are and if you are able to
concentrate on making you purest, most musical sound, you will
play well, at leas as well as you can. And that is all any of us
can do.

Good luck with your audition and all of your endeavors.

Sincerely and cordial with best wishes

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