Many of my Kentucky trombone students are auditioning for All-State band this year. Here are some helpful hints as you prepare…
Not sure if you want to audition?
You can come up with as many excuses to not audition as you want, but the fact is– if you don’t try out, you will definitely not make the group. It seems obvious, but sometimes we set ourselves up to fail by not attempting new and challenging things. But, set your self up success by working hard, and you might just surprise yourself.
Preparing and performing your lyrical etude:
- The most important thing to remember is to play with a beautiful sound. Strive for a rich and resonant tone.
- Be musical! How expressive can you play? What emotions or stories can you reveal with your trombone?
- Just because it’s a lyrical etude does not mean that you can forget about time and rhythm. Be musical and rhythmically accurate. Try conducting and singing the etude with a metronome.
- How smooth can you make your legato technique? Let’s face it– playing legato on the trombone is challenging. Remember to always keep your air stream constant and move your slide quickly. Try practicing without using your tongue at all. You will hear lots of glisses, but you will also learn where the natural slurs occur. Be sure to identify the natural slurs in your music so that you don’t articulate more than you need to.
- Keep in mind that you can use alternate positions in order to facilitate ease and eliminate extra motion.
- Play all grace notes lyrically and with a beautiful sound.
Practicing and performing your technical etude:
- Again, most importantly– play with a beautiful sound!
- Aim to perform the etude at the requested tempo, but know that the judges would rather you perform a little under tempo if it means that you can be more accurate.
- When working on building up to a fast tempo, set your metronome as slow as you need to and gradually bump it up. Track your progress by writing down the tempo and date. Once you master a tempo, bump it up two clicks, then master that, etc.
- “Technical” does not mean “robotic!” You should still be musical and expressive.
- Practice in chunks. Isolate small portions of the etude and workshop them to perfection. Don’t just “run it”– work on specific things.
- Conduct and sing or conduct and tap out tricky rhythms.
- Consider using alternate positions when helpful.
- Practice sight reading every day. Pull out any etude book and open it to a random page. Take 30 seconds to look at the material, and then play.
- Even though you are sight reading, play with a beautiful sound and be musical.
- During your 30 second review of the material follow the same protocol each time: key signature(s), time signature(s), tempo, clefs / clef changes, tricky rhythms, etc.
- Even if you mess up, keep playing.
- Try your best– that’s all that you can do.
The day of the audition:
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
- Don’t play too much the morning / day of the audition.
- Eat a good breakfast–nothing too salty or sweet. A banana might help with nerves and is a good beforehand snack.
- Bring a bottle of water in case you get dry mouth.
- Make sure your horn is in working order (smooth slide, quiet trigger, spray bottle).
- Bring all music you might need in a folder.
In the warm up room:
- Ignore the people who are showing off. Focus on your own preparation.
- Do a short warm up, but don’t over-play.
- Look at your music and do some “mental practicing.”
- Keep track of your audition time and know where you need to go.
- There will probably be a proctor. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them.
- Refrain from speaking once you enter the audition room.
- If the judges allow you to play a few notes to get used to the room, then choose wisely which notes you play. Be sure to make a good impression. It might be helpful to play the first note of your etude or a scale in the appropriate key.
- Play the best that you can. Remember, you prepared yourself well, so try your best and make some music.