Advice for Recorded Auditions
Recorded auditions can actually be a lot more stressful than live auditions. Here’s my best advice on how to be successful without going completely crazy.
REMEMBER: The goal of an audition is to represent your best playing, not something better than you are capable of in a live situation. Like a live performance or audition, it’s important to remember that above all, you want to convince the listener that you truly love to play your instrument and you love the piece you’re playing. You’ll have a better time if you focus on that instead of a few bad notes in a recording session.
Step 1: DECIDE ON WHEN YOU WANT TO RECORD AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE It’s best to have an idea of WHEN you’re actually going to record your audition. When possible, set it at least a week, if not two, before the recording is due. If you end up getting sick or have a problem with your reed, you’re going to want a backup day!
Depending on how long you’ve had to prepare your audition, STOP TRYING TO GET BETTER for 3 days to 2 weeks before the audition. This does not mean stop practicing, but to focus your energy on ENJOYING YOUR OWN PLAYING, get comfortable with where you are with the music despite whatever shortcomings may remain. You shouldn’t expect to make significant improvements in your technique in the last remaining days, but you CAN make significant improvements to your attitude and overall mental state.
Step 2. Get plenty of rest and eat healthful meals! Sleep and good nutrition are your central nervous system's best friends. You simply cannot play your best without them.
Step 3. Test our your microphone! Record high notes and low notes, soft and loud. Typically, you want a room without a lot of echo (some is ok, but never add anything artificial. You’ll want to be sure articulations are clear). If the mic is too close to the bassoon, you may hear distortion or notice that certain notes sound a lot louder than others. If it’s too far, there will be a too much echo and it will be difficult to hear how notes are articulated.
Step 4. Record THREE takes of each selection from your audition. Try not to stop for any mistakes as if it were a live audition. You may want to play through all or part of each selection SLOWLY before recording each set of takes. DO NOT OVER-PRACTICE AND WEAR YOURSELF OUT BEFORE RECORDING!!!
Step 5. Listen to each take, even the ones you may have thought were no good. You may notice something you like about them, or find something you can improve easily. You may also be surprised by which take you like best. Take notes and keep track of which takes you like best.
Step 6. If you listened to some of your takes before you finished recording everything you plan to play that day, move on and record the other pieces before going back to do any more takes.
Step 7. Listen to all of your best takes again. If you think you can do better, record TWO or three more takes of the selections you think you can improve.
Step 8. Go back and listen to all five takes again. If you are still unhappy allow yourself two more takes. You may want to play all or part of each selection SLOWLY before doing this. . This should not be for every selection of the audition. If you’re finding that you aren’t happy with ANY of your best takes thus far, you may want to consider recording on a different day or perhaps that you have had an unrealistic impression of your playing (or you are simply being too harsh that day). This is why recording yourself from time to time is a really good idea!
Step 9. Listen to your takes again and pick your best. Hopefully you will have something that represents your best playing. If you don’t, you can consider repeating these steps on another day with some thoughtful practice in the meantime. Do not expect yourself to play significantly better on the same day or even the next couple days at this point. The chances of a 9th or 20th take being significantly better than your first 8 is nil. Of course, hold on to all of your recordings, just in case.You may also want to go back and listen to these recordings a few months or even years from now to track your progress.
Step 10. Use this opportunity to consider what you like best about your playing and how you developed those traits. Consider parts of your playing that you hope to improve and what kind of preparation will get you there. Remind yourself that playing an instrument, especially bassoon, makes you super-cool.
Once again, REMEMBER: The goal of an audition is to represent your best playing, not something better than you are capable of in a live situation. Like a live performance or audition, it’s important to remember that above all, you want to convince the listener that you truly love to play your instrument and you love the piece you’re playing. You’ll have a better time if you focus on that instead of a few bad notes in a recording session.