Audition Tips: Your body can do a lot more than you think it can
Audition advice for prospective drum corps members from current members
Nathan Pratt, 20
Madison Scouts Mellophone, 2010-2011
What do you think is important in choosing which corps to audition for?
When choosing a corps, you should pursue the ones that you enjoy the most. Chances are, if you have always loved the Emerald Knights, then you'd like to become an Emerald Knight yourself. You'd think this ought to go without saying, but there are lots of people who dream of competing in a top-tier corps and don't audition only because they're afraid they lack the talent or experience.
The other big thing to consider is the staff from whom you'll be learning all summer. Since a huge part of being in a drum corps is the education you receive, choose a corps whose staff is experienced and respected, so that you receive the best possible education.
How do you like to prepare for an audition?
The more you prepare for an audition, the louder and clearer you relay the message, "I have what it takes to be in this corps." I recommend (and practice) taking note of every detail in the audition materials and memorizing it as precisely and thoroughly as possible. The more you prepare, the greater you demonstrate your commitment, and that communicates that you are teachable and dedicated enough to be a part of the corps.
What was your experience like the first time you auditioned for a corps?
The first time I auditioned for a corps, I didn't know what to expect. But I knew that there were certain things I could control like my focus, my attitude and my effort. Coincidentally, those are probably the top three things that instructors look for in prospective members. If you put forth your best physical effort, mental focus, and healthy attitude, then it will be hard to turn you down.
I made lots of mistakes at my first camp, and you probably will too. But I made absolutely sure that I only made those mistakes once. Going into your first audition, be ready to adapt quickly to instruction and to shed old habits. A willingness to change the way you perform shows that you are teachable, which is even more important than being talented.
What advice would you give to somebody who is nervous or unsure about auditioning?
Are you anxious about auditioning? Are you unsure whether the drum and bugle corps activity is for you? The truth is, you might not like it at all, but you also might find out that you love it. There's no way to know unless you try it, and you only have so many opportunities to try it before you run out of time.
The thought that sealed it for me was, "When I look back, what would I regret more: Auditioning and hating it, or not auditioning and never knowing whether I would love it? Worst case scenario on the one hand, I sacrifice one weekend of my life. Worst case scenario on the other hand, I sacrifice potential years of lifelong memories, valuable lessons, and extraordinary experiences." Given that choice, I had to go for it.
Any other tips?
There's a chance that you'll receive a callback after your first camp instead of getting a contract right away. That callback is often accompanied by specific instruction on how you can improve, and it frequently includes individual goals and expectations for you to meet between audition camps.
Don't be discouraged if you get a callback! Some people interpret that as the corps saying, "You might be good enough, but we're not sure." For most corps, the callback is the chance for you to demonstrate how well you can improve when practicing and preparing on your own. It's a golden opportunity to showcase your work ethic, so make the most of it and strive to meet and to exceed all of the expectations set for you.
Another piece of advice to keep in mind is that your body can do a lot more than you think it can. Many people begin to put forth less effort when they start to get tired, in order to save energy; don't do that. Saving energy is pointless because you never have an opportunity to use it except in the present moment. So put forth your full effort even when you start to get tired, pushing yourself to perform all the way until the end. If you can do that your first time with a corps, it'll probably set you apart from most veterans! Drum corps is going to hurt at some point; either it'll hurt your body in the winter, or it'll hurt your heart in August when you think of all the energy you saved and never got to spend.
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