With performance examinations coming up in many music schools across the country, I thought I’d address a question I’ve often heard, which is:
How do I prepare for my performance jury?
Whether you have an audition or a jury coming up for school, we’ll be discussing some best kept secrets for how to prepare!
- Know your audience.
- WHO are you playing for? What are they looking for in your audition?
- If auditioning at a college, discern what they value musically
Such as… Playing changes, technical fluency, interactive playing, arrangement, etc…
- Don’t be afraid to do some research!
- Choose your repertoire in advance and play the tunes every day!
- Playing your tunes DAILY will cement them in your memory.
- If you have them memorized, don’t have to think about the chord changes or the melody. You can just PLAY!
- For technically difficult passages, apply focused practice as follows:
Ex: “Play ‘Donna Lee’ in two-hands unison.
- Reduce the tempo to a comfortable speed (110bpm), play 3-5x.
- Gradually increase the tempo by 12-24 bpm.
- Play at full tempo, 10x without mistakes.
- Find different ways to practice to gain new perspectives.
- Investigate multiple versions of the songs you are playing. Don’t be in a vacuum!
- Practice with:
- A backing track (Aebersold, iRealB, Bandinabox)
- A real band (if you have access)
- A peer
- Playing your tunes with other players can bring new perspectives which you did not anticipate, and deepen your understanding of the material from all angles!
- Do one or more “dry run” performances of your audition.
- Jazz is an improvised art form, but that does not mean it can’t be rehearsed effectively!
- Practice entering the room, introducing yourself and what you’re playing; know exactly what directions you’re going to give the band (if present).
- “Hi, my name is __________ and today I’ll be playing x,y,z…”
- “For ‘Body and Soul,’ I’ll play the melody, take a solo for two A sections, then play the bridge melody out for a total of 2 choruses.”
- The clearer things are in your mind on the day of the performance, the more you can focus on the music and leave out any and all guesswork!!
- HAVE FUN!!
- It may be easier said than done, sure, but if you bring a genuine joy to your performance, it will undoubtedly be felt by your jury AND bandmates!
- People will notice if you are passionate about what you are doing!
If you have the opportunity, take a lesson or attend a gig with a person from the jury. Establish a connection in advance so they know you, giving you a personal edge as soon as you step in the room!
Audition Day Checklist
- Eat a full meal over 1 hour in advance.
- Be early.
- No one was ever given a hard time for showing up in advance.
- Plus, it will eliminate the possibility of being stressed or having to rush to the audition room.
- Be confident and flexible.
- Be polite, friendly, and don’t forget to SMILE!
- Anything can happen in an audition; in the event of the unexpected, act calmy and go with the flow!
- Dress accordingly.
- If you do not know what dress is appropriate, ask a teacher/friend/fellow applicant for reference.
- Bring lead sheets!! (for the jury, and for bandmates if necessary)
- Make sure they are in the correct key(s)
- Make sure you have enough copies!
- Check that the chord changes are written how you want them
- Put them in ORDER
- Be yourself!
- Be genuine. Don’t try to be something you’re not, and you will have the freedom to perform with no reservations!