(don't forget to scroll to the bottom of this page for more resources!)
1. Make sure you know your solo inside and out.
2. Get a good night sleep the night before
3. If you are performing at the NYSSMA solo & ensemble festival, before you leave to go to the festival make sure you:
a) have two copies of your solo
b) have all parts of your instrument in your case before you leave home (eg. Extra reeds, neck strap, mouthpiece, valve oil, etc…)
c) bring something to help you relax (see #3 below)4. Get there early enough so you are not rushed. Likewise, don't get there so early that you have to wait and extensive time to your audition. (45 minutes early is good)
5. Try not plan other things around your performance time (like having to rush off to a dinner date right after you play)
Once you get to the audition site:
1. Find your performance room before going to warm-up. This way you know exactly how long it will take you to get to your room from the warm-up area.
2. Don't over warm-up and burn out your lips.
Keeping relaxed before your audition:
1. Relax by any of the following ways:
a. Read a book
b. Do homework
c. Listen to your mp3 player
d. Drink water (you can use this even in the performance room throughout the audition)
e. Play your favorite electronic game
f. Play card games; solitaire or something with a friend
g. Eat a banana; the potassium is said to calm the nerves
h. Use the rest room (no kidding!)
2. Things that students do that typically make themselves nervous:
a. Playing too much in the warm-up room by either playing the entire solo or over practicing a section. You did the work already. Another 15 minutes of "practicing" is not going to make a big difference.
b. Listening and comparing yourself to other students who are playing in the warm-up room. Keep in mind you WILL hear people who are better than you and others worse than you. The weekend is long. It is possible that you are hearing the one or two other amazing player throughout the weekend. There are probably 50 other weaker players auditioning throughout the weekend.
c. Rushing to find their audition room.
d. Planning other appointments either before or after your audition time that will force you to rush in or out from the audition.
e. Hanging out with other students who are nervous! This is the number one issue that causes students to get nervous. They talk back and forth about how nervous they are. It is just an ugly spiral down to nowhere. If you are going to hang out with friends make sure you are doing things that are going to take your mind off of things rather than mess your mind up for no reason.
How to stay relaxed once you are in the audition room:
1. Greet the judge with a smile: The judge is rooting for you to do well. Know that the judge is there for you, you are not there for the judge. They want you to do your. Make conversation with the judge may take the edge off for you. Small talk (weather, "where are you from", "do you like this solo"…)
2. Adjust the chair and stand the way you like it. You can stand or sit. It's you choice.
3. Play a few notes to hear the acoustics of the room. You may sound loud in a classroom. It's O.K., just play how you normally play. Don't adjust to the room.
4. If you are having a piano player tune to the piano.
5. Finger your scales before you actually play them. Thinking through them will help your accuracy.
6. If you need to it is all right to admit to the judge that you are nervous. They will understand and treat you nicer.
7. Count yourself off. Think of your tempo before you play your solo and sight-reading.
8. Take big/energetic breaths throughout your audition.
9. Drink water during your rests if it will help.
Read these books:
" The Inner Game of Tennis " by W. Timothy Gallwey. (<-- click to read) is a revolutionary program for overcoming the self-doubt, nervousness, and lapses of concentration that can keep a player from winning. It uses tennis as a tool to demonstrate the author's performance techniques. His approach has been used not only by athletes but for a wide range of people including public speakers, business owners, and musicians (just to name a few). This book has sold millions of copies since it was published in 1974. It can be purchased at most book stores for $15.00 or on-line for as little as $10.20 on sites like Amazon.com.
If you are more interested in not having to make your own analogies to music you want to read The Inner Game of Music co-authored by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey. (<-- click to read) This book is designed to help musicians overcome obstacles, help improve concentration, and reduce nervousness, allowing them to reach new levels of performing excellence and musical artistry.