Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How To Audition

I had a comment left on my Facebook page (btw, if you aren't my "friend", you're more than welcome to find me. I stress this all of the time, but I answer any and all comments, questions, emails, messages, smoke signals, letters, bird calls, and tweets. I love talking drums, teaching, and sharing the knowledge that I've stumbled upon due to the massive amount of mistakes I've made over my career...there were some successes, but I didn't learn near as much from those, LOL). The comment had to do with auditioning, how to prepare, how to handle nerves, what if I get know, the usual plethora of emotions and anxieties we experience anytime we have to "prove ourselves" to other musicians. I thought it was a great discussion, so I'm posting it here. These are just my thoughts on the subject...feel free to add your own to the discussion...

I have sort of an "Audition" in two weeks for a marching band here in Austria. It's a group of 12 men and women and they play at local festivals here in Carinthia.
My problem is- I don't know how to play stuff in traditional grip.. my rolls just sound terrible.. but when we are marching I need to play in traditional because of the snare hanging sideways... My other fear is that I will just fail miserably at the Audition... Have you got any tips? Please?
Greetings and thanks in advance,

I absolutely have some tips bro. First of all, that's awesome that you're even thinking of auditioning! Seriously, an audition is stressful, nerve wracking, makes you doubt yourself, fun, hard work...and lots more all rolled into one. It takes alot of guts to put yourself under that kind of scrutiny. Here's a list of things to watch out for in general on auditions...

1. Identify any problem areas

You already told me your problem area. Double strokes and rolls in your left hand suck. Great! Now that you know what your problem is, you can go about methodically fixing it. Anytime I have an audition coming up, I try to find my weakest areas and work on them. Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a practice routine. How much time each day do you have to practice? Schedule your practice time just like you would school work or a job. Every minute should be accounted for in your day and any spare seconds should be devoted to practicing. Every last minute that you have scheduled to practice should be planned out, with additional topics to be practiced in case you have extra practice time. If you really want this gig, then take the audition that seriously. Treat every audition and gig like it's Wembley it's the most important thing in the world...because it is. Take your practice pad EVERYWHERE with you! You should be working on that left hand in your sleep. People should be begging you to stop playing diddles on your left hand. They should be petitioning the local authorities to have you banned in public places due to noise violations. You're a man on a mission! Act like it! (Ok, so maybe that's a bit overboard, but you get the idea!)

2. Try to find out what material you need to play ahead of time.

3. Go to any shows they have in the next couple of weeks. Let them know that you're not just wanting to play for the sake of playing drums. Let them know you're really interested in the group, that you really and truly like what they do. That goes a long way.

4. Whether you get the gig or not, it's worth it. I can't tell you how much improvement has come in my playing in the past due to audition preparation. And you know what? Every one of them gets easier. You'll find that you aren't as nervous at the next audition. Practice improves you...and so does practicing your auditioning skills. Unless you're Steve Gadd or Dave Weckl, people are going to want to hear you play before they make a decision on inviting you into their musical world. That's only fair.

Again, I can't tell you how stoked I am that you get this opportunity. If you get the gig, great! If you don't get it, great! Ask them what you can do to improve yourself...that way, if they have another audition down the road, you can come back and show them just how committed you are. There's a big chance that you could screw up...there's a big chance they won't like you...there's a big chance that you might embarrass yourself...SO WHAT! There's also a chance they might like you...that you'll blow them away...that they'll see potential. Don't judge your worth as a player and human being on the outcome of one audition.

Whew...I got a little long winded, sorry. It's just a great should definitely take advantage of it.



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