My Way of Getting Ready for the Audition

The last post was in Finnish only, so this time it will be in English only. I want to get little more detailed about my way of getting ready for an audition and how the audition day goes. At the first Sunday of November I attended the Principal Clarinet substitute audition for the spring season 2019 in Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.

I had to go through my blog because I didn’t remember how detailed I have written about my previous audition experiences. Also I wanted to confirm that it was 2014 when I did the last auditions for symphonic orchestras before this year. In 2014 I applied in Oslo in January with E flat clarinet and in Helsinki in October with bass clarinet. Both were really nice trips and I got good experience of going to auditions.

It was very interesting for me to read one of my posts that year about wanting to play in an orchestra very much when I didn’t have a chance to do it. And I was really excited about attending to the audition of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in the spring of 2015. Later I wrote I found out in the end of January about an upcoming audition in Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. I was really excited. The audition will be held next week. Unfortunately I am not participating because I didn’t get invitation to the audition. Just too many good clarinetists applying this time. Honestly I felt tremendously bad after getting the message that I can’t go.

In 2016 I got the position in the Navy Band through an audition as well but besides me there was only one other applicant. I feel it was all a different story. After that I felt I want to focus on my new job and didn’t feel like using my energy on auditions.

Few years passed and then came this autumn. I heard about the audition couple of times before I really checked the date and found out that it goes really well with my schedule. Well, one micro-chipping event happened on the exact same time but luckily my friend could go there with my cat. Little extra excitement for that day! Anyway I didn’t have to book a trip and find a place to stay over night or any hassle like this since the audition was in my new home town.

My job includes few educational courses and this time the focus is in the music and my own development. What could be any better way to push myself than going to an audition? You can practice the auditions only by doing them. I also got to go to lessons and it was really useful after a long time to get concrete feedback of my playing.

For Oslo audition I had a really good time to prepare: “During Christmas holidays 2013 I stayed alone and came up with a routine of going outside walking after breakfast, writing my thesis until lunch time and then practicing between lunch and dinner and maybe writing a bit more in the evening. I was extremely “busy” and had to be careful to give me every fourth day just a brake day of it all. ”

For Helsinki audition I wrote about working at the same time and how it makes it more difficult to find enough time to concentrate in practicing. This autumn I could use almost one month mostly for practicing for the audition. For couple of weeks I could plan my days freely although I didn’t find as strict routine as I described in 2013.

IMG_20181027_122153When I first took a look of the audition materials I thought that I am lucky to be able to practice all the best clarinet solos. Most of them I knew already but some were tricky and needed a lot of time. Yet I feel some of them didn’t get perfectly ready but this work is never wasted time. In the future it will be every time easier to begin working with these difficult passages.

There are few key things I could list for my preparing. Number one, planning of what I need to practice and not just try to do everything at once. I practiced almost every day, also in weekends. I usually relax during weekends and try to do other than job related things. Also keep in mind of having breaks during the practice session. Number two, sports. I started a new gym program in the beginning of October and I felt it has been really important and gave me energy for the darkening nights. And for number three and four are food and rest. If you are not sleeping enough or eating the right things you won’t be able to get any use out of your practicing. Brains are working when you are resting! I find myself humming the difficult things I have been practicing after few hours. I think this is one way my brain is processing all that data. I usually avoid alcohol for a longer time before auditions. This time I had one glass of wine one week before the audition so I am not super strict about it. But just keep in mind how it affects in your body and your performance.

Then comes finally the audition day. Two days before I went to a massage and hairdressers. I even visit a museum to have a lovely moment with art (however there were some infants…). I also prepared my food for the audition day. I feel it’s easier to take the food with me and then you can eat it there when you have even a short break. You cannot be sure how far you have to go for a shop and how long time you might have to wait for food in cafes or restaurants.

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I felt I didn’t play too much just before the audition but anyway my right wrist was feeling a bit sore in the morning of the audition day. I was thinking could it be even psychosomatic pain due the stress but on the other hand I was feeling rather excited than nervous or anxious about going to the audition. Luckily the pain relieved and didn’t affect on my playing.

IMG_20181104_120600I arrived at the concert house around 11 am. I enrolled for the audition with other participants and felt already hungry. I had breakfast quite early because I still had to do some things in the morning before leaving. So the first thing was to eat my salad. After that I still had little bit time to put my instrument together and play few tones in the hall where the audition took place. It is very good if you can get inside that hall or room before your turn will come. You have time to think how you will position yourself and how it feels to stand there. Also it is good to test the acoustics but there were quite many other players as well so it was not possible to hear that well.

At noon we had a draw. There were totally 38 players and they said it is a lot but actually that is what I have always experienced. My lucky number was 26. So I had plenty of waiting time ahead of me. The first round was Mozart concerto first movement and excerpt of “Dances of Galanta”.

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They showed us rooms where we could play but there was six people in one room. Luckily everyone else left right away and I stayed in to play. Then I had a pause and went to see how it is going with the audition and to talk with people.

IMG_20181104_111814I wrote in my older post about having the contacts in music field in Finland. And it is true. However not only in Finland but all around the world. In my October post I wrote about my weekend with Finnish clarinetists. This time I met many clarinet friends from all over the world. Of course there were a lot of new faces but I was happy to meet and talk with people I knew already. The atmosphere was all in all very friendly and supportive.

Finally my turn came and it was soon over. I had a fine feeling with Mozart when I was playing and I was really happy that I played very clearly one passage that was causing troubles just few days before. After that the jury behind the screen said IMG_20181104_152303”Thank you, that’s all” and I was confused and tried to ask the pianist without making any sound that was it really all. When you are playing behind the screen you can’t talk or make any sounds that could reveal who you are.

Afterwards I heard that quite many didn’t play the ”Dances of Galanta” but it made me still a bit worried. I ate some more food and talked more with people. It was past 4 pm when we heard the results of the first round. I didn’t get to the second round but one friend did. She was one of the 12. I packed my stuff and was in a way happy that I still had time to go to gym.

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Hopefully some day I would go to the second round. Then I would at least know that my Mozart is played in the way they like to hear it. Also I only got this hint afterwards that you could record your playing. Especially in the first round it doesn’t matter what you are doing on the stage when they can’t see you. So I will definitely try that next time.

All in all I had a good experience with getting ready and practicing these things again and finding out what I should practice more. I got the feeling I want to do at least one more audition in the future. Probably I don’t want to travel very far for it, but for sure there will be other auditions in Turku as well.

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