A solo recital or a concerto is fine, but an audition can really make me nervous.
This is a very important topic. One can be totally prepared and one little thing can throw you off and cause you to get the shakes or other problems.
In the very first audition to which I flew, I had the problem of shakes, so much that I almost got the job, because the Conductor was a Russian and he thought that is what a horn should sound like. Runner-up isn’t bad for a full-time first horn job at the age of 23.
I do a weekly classical radio show on our community radio. At first controlling the whole studio alone and talking into the mic to the listening audience really made me nervous. A radio interview is fine where you’re just talking to someone, but alone; this took some getting use to. The answer for this was just practice, breathing, not rushing the announcement and being prepared.
On the positive side, in my recordings when I have a growl, natural vibrato, or anything else a little strange, often these takes are the ones I keep, they are almost always the most expressive! Don’t let the wierd things bother you. Often the vibrato is good. If you start to thinking that you shouldn’t have it, it is a downward spiral, it just gets worse as you concentrate on it. Just keep making the phrases.
In auditions where I have thought I did really well, but didn’t advance, I believe I was just too careful. Careful playing often just doesn’t sound like music. As a committee member, I always go for the more musical player.
Some thoughts on mental preparation for the audition:
One: The committee wants you to do well.
Two: Don’t put yourself down in anyway. You are equal or better than the people
listening to you, and once you play your audition you’ll be colleges and you’ll have equal say in chamber music situations with them.
Three: Think positively, such as : “You feel great, you’re doing your best, this is going well”
Four; Keep your concentration on the current tone, play each tone your best, then make the phrase. Don’t rush the time between excerpts. Be ready to play it when you start.
Richard O. Burdick