Tips For Successful Music Auditions and Festivals

Catherine and John Howard at TVMTA Fall Recital
Throughout the year, there are many opportunities for students in my studio to participate in music exams, auditions and festivals. These events usually involve a judge, who gives students feedback on their performance and provides a rating. The following are tips to help students have a successful experience.

1. Have plenty sleep the night before.
2. Eat lightly before going to the audition – don’t eat too much as you will feel sleepy, but don’t go with empty stomach, either.
3. Dress to impress – judges appreciate people taking the occasion seriously.
4. Bring your music for the judge. Bookmark the piece you will be playing so the judge can find it quickly. Put measure number at the beginning of each line of music, if it does not already have one.
5. If you need to personally give the music to the judge right before you play, have the music facing the judge when you hand it over. Say hello to the judge.
6. Walk to the piano, turn around, look at the judge/audience and smile, take a slow deep bow (this is to thank the judge and audience for coming to listen to you). Note: If you are doing an audition in front of a judge and there is no audience, you should still bow to the judge to show your respect!
7. After you bow, go sit at the piano. Do not play right away. Take a moment to see if you are comfortable. Is the bench too close? Is it too far? Can you reach the pedals? Can you press the pedals down comfortably? Are the pedals higher or tighter than you expected? Adjust the bench so it is at the right height and distance for you.
8. When you are ready, breath, put your hands on the keys, and “show”, like a conductor, when you are going to play your first note(s).
9. Play your piece. Listen to yourself when you play. Adjust and adapt to the piano and the room acoustics. Every piano is different – don’t be put off by how different it feels or sounds compared to your own piano. Listen especially for dynamics and pedals – are you able to project the dynamic contrasts? Are the pedal changes clean? Focus on the music. Do not be distracted by anything! If you make a mistake, don’t worry, keep going! Do not go back and try to fix your mistake over and over. If you are lost and don’t know where you are, just pick from a spot you do know and go from there.
10. After you finish playing, bring your hands up from the keys, put them back on your lap, turn around, stand up, look at the audience, smile, and bow again (this is to thank everyone for staying and listening to your entire performance!)

It sounds like a lot of things to remember, but with experience, most of the above will become second nature. 

Good luck on your next music exam/audition/festival!

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