I’ve always hated the audition process. It seems unnatural to me. It judges a player’s ability to play an audition well, rather than judging the ability to play well in an orchestra. So I like the following paragraph from this article about Pittsburgh Symphony auditions:

The symphony is increasingly supplementing the stand-alone audition with ensemble playing, as well. Auditions might set a bar for technical issues, but are as unnatural and unmusical as competitions, Davis says. Playing in tune, with good rhythm and tone, are just the beginning. Playing well with others is the real issue. Knox’s audition included playing with the trombone section, while other musicians have played excerpts with the full orchestra or performed for a week or more in rehearsals and concerts.

And of course there are still things you won’t learn about a player until it’s probably too late. A player can be a great musician and a rotten person to get along with. A player can be late or nearly late (which drives me batty!) all the time. A player can even (I’m not sure I should even write this!) smell so bad you can hardly sit close by, much less take a breath to play your instrument. But that’s life! I’m sure folks out in the “real world” have to deal with all of this as well.

But anyway, I like the “plays well with others” thing; it is, needless to say, extremely important.

Oh … and students … take note of THIS:

“You don’t train for only the 100-meter dash and you don’t practice only the excerpts,” he says. “When I prepared for auditions, I spent most of my time each day on scales and exercises to be my best in basic musicianship, and only a half-hour or so on the actual excerpts I’d be playing.” (Contrabassoonist Jim Rogers)

Now I must admit I’m skeptical of the “only a half-hour”, but did you read .. did you get it?



  1. Scott Spiegelberg

    Well, how many contrabassoon excerpts are there, anyway? 

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Heh. Very good point! (Although I’m assuming he had to play a bit of “regular” bassoon as well.)