Audition Tips: Smile when you're feeing overwhelmed
Audition advice for prospective drum corps members from current members
Ryan Silhavy, 18
Northwestern University, Euphonium Performance/Music Education
Madison Scouts Baritone, 2011
What do you think is important in choosing which corps to audition for?
I think it is necessary to find a drum corps that you will want to spend your summer with. There are so many great corps out there, and each one is different. Find a drum corps where you will fit in with the membership, where you can learn a lot from the staff, and where you want to be.
How do you like to prepare for an audition?
When I am presented with audition material, I typically like to first turn to a recording of the piece, or an arrangement of the piece if at all possible. Hearing another musician's perspective is quite helpful for me in terms of phrasing and musicality. I then turn to nailing down the technique of the etude/excerpt. Find a tempo at which you can play the audition material comfortably, and repeat it several times (at least seven) without breaks. Then, up the tempo and the technicality should ideally be fixed.
What was your experience like the first time you auditioned for a corps?
I had an amazing experience at my first audition camp with the Madison Scouts. It was no doubt the hardest weekend of my life thus far, but I received more information about my playing in one weekend than I had from several years of private lessons and practice.
The general structure of each day went as follows: Wake up at 8 a.m., sub-sectionals from 9-1, visual from 2-4, sub-sectionals from 4-6, and full brass ensemble/full musical ensemble from 7-11 p.m. At the end of most audition weekends, you will typically be informed of your status with the corps (contracted member, alternate member, callback, or if this is not the year for you to march with that corps).
What advice would you give to somebody who is nervous or unsure about auditioning?
In all honesty, try it. The worst thing that can happen to you is to have an amazing experience under your belt and world-class teaching in your brain. If you practice the things that the staff tells you, you will have no doubt become a better player. Obviously not everyone who auditions for a drum corps will be contracted, but it is an amazing experience that I recommend to anyone who is thinking about it to pursue.
Any other tips?
Here are a few:
1. Listen. So much information will be thrown at you, and you'll want to hear and apply all of that information for future repetitions of a chunk of rehearsal.
2. Smile! The one thing that you can directly control during your audition weekend is your attitude. If you have a good attitude about the weekend, only good things will happen. The best way to have a good attitude is to simply smile when you're feeing overwhelmed.
3. Physically prepare. Especially if you are holding a bigger instrument and don't have sufficient muscle mass (like me!), it's crucial to prepare your body for drum corps. I was injured halfway through the season due to bilateral tibial stress fractures, so I can testify to the fact that a lack of sufficient physical preparation can be very damaging to your health.
4. Have fun! Not only will you learn a lot about your playing and about drum corps, you will also have so much fun in the process. You’ll also no doubt meet some people that will be your friends for life.
Good luck to all of you!
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