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7 clues to win Professional and University Auditions + Scholarships

Discover the strategies that led me to win many auditions at professional level as conductor and orchestra musician. I want to share the same strategies that gave me a place at the prestigious Doctoral program in Orchestra Conducting at Jacobs School of Music - Indiana University with an amazing scholarship.

I hope these reflections can help you. If you consider them interesting please share them with your friends and colleagues, probably they can find it useful too.

1. Auditions require a totally unique approach:

Not only be a great musician is enough to present an excellent audition that led you to an orchestra or opera job, or to win acceptances and scholarships at university level. Many musical, technique and personality aspects are being judged at the professional and educational level. Therefore, to win an orchestra or opera spot, or scholarships from bachelor to Doctoral Level you need to be totally prepared to control yourself and the situation to be successful.

2. Every audition is unique:

The skills, knowledge and personality that the jury is looking in an audition, will be totally correlated to the position that you are applying for. That is why, before even applying for the position take a moment to analyze it. Read as much information the university, the orchestra or opera company can give you about it and contact people that can give you a better and more rounded idea about the position. After that define the perfect profile for the position. Finally, match it with your unique characteristics as a human and musician. If you need help with this part, ask here for the Free Music Career Development Session).

3. Prepare the correct documents:

The audition starts before you even play the first note, it starts with your application. There are not second opportunities to generate a great impression. The first moment where the jury will see you is at your application materials. That is why, after defining the perfect profile for the position and correlate it with yourself in a consistent way, you need to show it to the jury in the correct way. Many musicians are not good at organizing their materials (CV, Bio, recordings, repertoire list, recommenders, etc,) because all of them need to be done with a clear brand development. Their importance and quality is huge, at the end these materials are crucial at the moment of win or lose an audition even without playing a single note. There are many resources that can help you to understand the best way to prepare the materials, just google it. But if you want a more professional and organized resource, check my Career Development Certified Program. There you will learn how to organize your materials from an international professional/academic perspective.

4. Organize your audition practice schedule:

If you were invited to an audition, congratulations! Now is the moment where you will need more organization and clear goals. Lucky you will have some months between the moment of your invitation and the real audition. Also, if you are organized you were reviewing the pieces for the audition before. Now is the moment to define a detailed schedule that includes daily technical development, musical practices, mock auditions and interviews. Developing the stamina and train your behavior for the audition is crucial part of the preparation. Remember that all of these aspects need to be prepared thinking in the unique profile that the position needs. As an example, a principal 2nd violin has different musical, technical and human responsibilities than a violin tutti. Therefore, the aspects that you need to show in an audition for a violin tutti is totally different from the 2nd violin. These unique playing and behave characteristics need to be trained and tested in order to be successful. I am very emphatic in it, because many people just play and behave exactly the same no matter the position. This is self-sabotage because at the end they are trying that the position matches themselves. This is good if you have tons of jobs offers but is very bad if you are looking to win many positions and then define which will be best for you.

That’s why in my Audition/Competition Expert Certified Program, I teach my students to organize a coherent and useful schedule that is combined with mock auditions and interviews. All of these in order to understand what aspects need to be emphasized and what other need to be changed and corrected. This method has been granted 100% successful auditions rates. Rates translated in musicians playing as soloists, wining orchestra spots and scholarships for their bachelor and graduate degrees.

5. Define the musical/technical priorities for your audition:

Again, each audition is different. If you are presenting an audition for professional orchestra for a tutti spot, intonation, rhythm, clarity of notes and ability to follow are certainly in a higher priority than your sound color and your unique interpretation perspectives on a concerto. I am not saying that define a unique interpretation and work in your sound quality are not important, but a jury for this position will focus more in the first ones. That means that your training needs to be focus in work these technical aspects. On the other hand, if the audition is for an undergrad program in a well-respected conservatory, the jury is looking for potential. They are looking for a student that shows a great musicality and the possibility of developing an outstanding career. You need to show all of that! Also, depending in the program, your orchestra experience and level can secure you a good scholarship. At the end, always is understand very carefully the position you are applying for and highlight your unique characteristics in the correct way.

6. Be prepare for Sight Reading and Last-Minute Changes

If is an orchestra or opera audition, they will require you to do sight reading or give you a short notice new repertoire. They need to be sure you are ready for the real professional life in case of an emergency. Also, for college or graduate programs, the most prestigious ones test their possible students with those tasks. Therefore, is better to develop your sight reading and your ability to perform new music very fast. My Audition/Competition Expert Certified Program offers training in it with weekly progressive tasks. Review it here and ask for the 5% fee discount after sharing this post with your friends.

7. Be prepared for the opportunities:

A successful career is not about luck, all is about be ready to take advantage of each opportunity the life will give you. The most important aspect that you need to remember to be successful in your auditions, is that the opportunities will arrive whenever, and you need to be prepared.

I remember my first professional audition as violist almost 12 years ago. I was in my house reviewing my emails after a long day of study. A dear friend called me about a viola spot in the FOSBO an orchestra in Bogota. The audition was be done the next day and the repertoire was the whole Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Prepare more than hour and a half of music for an audition would have been an impossible task. However, my audition skills acquired during more than 5 years of dedicated auditions training were very helpful. I knew how to be prepared in a short notice and I won the audition. In addition, in just 6 months I was the principal viola a spot that many people wanted but never get it. All because I was prepared for an audition even without an invitation. Therefore, do not wait until the moment where you are invited to an audition, be prepared in advance and start your preparation now.

This post is possible due to the alliance of my Private-Studio and Intersociedad-E&P Foundation.

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