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Preparing for Youth Orchestra Auditions
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Author: Phyllis Freeman

Ok, here it is, just one month before many of you need to audition for a youth orchestra.  Are you ready?  Do you know what to do in your practice?  Here are a few suggestions...

1) Make sure you get the audition requirements NOW!  You need at least a month to get yourself back into top shape (unless you have been at a music institute all summer) and you need to start preparing for an audition now.  Even if your chops are in top shape, you still need a month to absorb a new excerpt in order to have it performance ready.

2) Pay attention to the audition requirements.  Carefully read all requirements and prepare accordingly.  Especially, pay attention to all metronome markings on excerpts.
            For example, if you are required to play 3 octave major scales, slurring 2 notes on eighth notes with a quartet note = 80, then be sure you practice it exactly as required.  The number one mistake that students make in auditions is either not preparing the scale requirements adequately or preparing them incorrectly.

3) Listen to recordings.  If you have orchestral excerpts as part of your audition, then find recordings of the section you are to prepare.  You should be able to "hear" the other orchestra parts in your head while you play your part.  Students who are able to do this seem more confident and musical in auditions.

4) Play a solid, well-prepared solo piece.  If you have to play a solo for your audition, play something that is settled and comfortable.  Don't try to impress the committee with your "latest and greatest."  Auditions are not the time to take risks with untested repertoire.

5) Practice sight-reading.  The best way to do this is to find a friend who is at a comparable level and read through lots of duets.  It is more fun this way and you are more likely to push through difficult passages and not slow down to accommodate your weaknesses.

6) Put yourself through a mock audition in front of a video camera.  This is the best way to recreate the pressure of an audition.  Have a parent or friend act as the adjudicator and ask for scales and other requirements.  Do this at least 2 weeks before your audition so that you have time to fix any weak areas.

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