Tuesday, August 11, 2009

i don't think the banana really helps

ever wonder what an all-county orchestra audition in montgomery county, maryland is like? well you're in luck. i looked for this information on the web last fall for my violin audition and found nada! zip! zilch! so insider information right here to help my fellow stringers.

what you play for the auditions: they assign you 3 excerpts a few months ahead of time that are posted on the maryland music educators association website. last year the excerpts for violin were, the reformation symphony, which is technically difficult, an exercise from the 2nd wolfhart book, and a largo piece which included a lot of shifting but needed a lot of character. they say you need to buy the books, but nobody checked if we had the books at the auditions. just a money saving tip for you.
you also have to prepare scales. they want you to practice up to 3 sharps and up to 3 flats with arpeggios, but they only choose one for you to play.
then, there's a sight reading portion. there is a few lines of sightreading that you have to play, which isn't technically difficult, but has some tricky rhythms and a simple shift to 3rd position.

the process: the all county auditions are blind, so go ahead and wear your ratty sweats. but with nice shoes (since you are behind a screen which shows your feet). you'll be given a time window to be at the audition, but you should get there 30-45 min earlier so you can be higher up in the queue for audition order. after you sign in, you go into a big room where 40-50 people are practicing. you have to practice at the same time as them. they have a big screen where they project the audition numbers of who is going next. they project the numbers in groups and by instruments. when they project your number on the screen, you go up to the front of the room where someone leads you and the others to the audition rooms. there are 3 different rooms. when you get to the rooms there are people lined up outside each of the rooms waiting to go in and audition. one of the rooms is sight reading and scales. one is the 2 shorter excerpts and one is the long excerpt. posted outside of the excerpt audition rooms are the sheet music marked with brackets showing what they would like you to play. you can choose which room you want to go into first. when you get into the audition room, you don't speak at all and the judge doesn't speak at all. you only whisper with the judge's helper when you get into the room who will give you cues to play etc. in the excerpt rooms, they already have the music there, but you can use your own music since it has your markings on it.

some advice:in the practice room, you might hear people who play better than you, but you should try not to listen to them because it will psych you out. for example, i heard someone playing one song faster than i had practiced it. and i thought, i'm playing it too slow. in my audition, i ended up speeding up, and messing up. while you aren't playing, you might want to listen to music through headphones... it worked for michael phelps!

during the sightreading portion, give yourself 20-30 seconds to look through the music. don't feel rushed, it doesn't affect your score. spending those seconds will pay off.

during the scales, don't play too fast or too slow. play them at a walking pace. the judges have listened to a lot of scales before yours, so playing them painfully slow won't help.

don't be too nervous...have you ever heard that eating a banana makes you less nervous? well, it sort of does, but it doesn't get rid of the nerves at all. don't be too nervous because, while at the auditions, my mom calculated the chances of getting in. there were about 70 people auditioning for violin, and there were about 35-40 people who made it in. the chances of you getting into the orchestra is more than half! just practice and don't be nervous!

all state orchestra auditions
the all state audition process is very similar to all county, and there are the same excerpts and requirements. the only thing is that it is harder to get into (ex: i made it into all county and not all state), and they are not blind! so dress nice!

please post comments if you have any extra helpful tips or questions! good luck with your audition!


Paisan said...

Hi Bea. Good luck on the all state. Dad

Anonymous said...

do you know where the all-county auditions are? i can't find it anywhere!

Beatriz Atsavapranee said...

hi marilyn! well, you must be part of your school orchestra to audition for all-county. as of now, the location is still to be announced, but your orchestra teacher should tell you the location and time of your audition a week or so in advance. thanks for the comment!


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