festival auditions

Top 5 Favorite Blog Posts from July

 

"Ultimately, your technique is only as good as your sense of time." 

Great tips for simplifying the process and reaping the benefits of self-recording while practicing!

“Performance presence is born out of a sincere and deep connection to the music you are playing and the desire to share this with your audience." 

"How setting the right practice goal can help us improve more in the same amount of time (hint: practicing for time or number of repetitions is not the answer)."

"Note the acute observation required here: the tiniest hesitation or deviating muscle movement is to Lynne an indicator of further work being required."

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July Inspiration Calendar [Free Download]

Tips for Using Your Calendar

  • While this is not a practice calendar, there are several actions that are to be implemented directly into your practice session, such as the Practice Intention ideas.
  • There's no need to do every action in the order specified. If you're one to print out calendars like this one, then stop using them after one day if you haven't done everything as listed perfectly, here's permission to use it however you'd like
  • Half the days are intentionally left blank, and you're encouraged to fill them in with actions that are very specific to your own personal sources of inspiration or goals.
  • The first action involves reviewing your goals, and writing them specifically in the space at the top. 
  • Items with an asterisk (*) have corresponding links and explanations that are available below the calendar at the end of this post! 

Set Your New Goals

Take a moment to reflect and check-in on goals, experiences, and behaviors, ask the following questions:

  • Am I on track with my overall goals?
  • Are my behaviors reflective of what I wish to accomplish in the short and long-term?
  • What have I observed in myself that I wish to change?

Here you Go!

Click the image or click the button below to download your free PDF!


#practiceroomrevelations

I am SO EXCITED to see your calendars and the ways you're staying inspired throughout the month! Use the hashtag #practiceroomrevelations and tag @joleneflute to share!

The 9 Things I Did Before Every College Audition

In the spirit of college audition season, I am reflecting on my own audition experience for masters programs. In general, I had a really positive experience at each of my four auditions, due in part to each of the steps I took to ensure it was positive and low-stress!

Here are the things I did before every audition for graduate school:

1. Travel Plan

The first step to avoiding added anxiety was to avoid stress while travelling. I know myself well enough to realize that I get nervous while executing an elaborate travel agenda, especially while traveling alone. I planned out every step of transportation, and stayed organized with audition information, directions, reservations, and music. 

2. Scope

Arriving the day before the audition gave me time to walk the route to the music building and scope out the practice rooms and audition space. Knowing exactly where I needed to go the next day eased any anxiety I had about finding my way around on the day of, plus, I could begin to mentally envision the actual audition. (See number 5!)

3. Sleep

Staying in hotels or with family meant being away from my the comfort of my own bed. I was prepared to make myself as comfortable as possible with lavender and sleep essential oils, chamomile tea, ear plugs, white noise, and comfortable clothing. 

4. Meditate

My preparations of the audition repertoire involved quite a bit of mental practice and meditation, and following along with a guided meditation to clear the mind and relax the body has helped me tremendously with feeling positive and grounded. In the night before the audition and the morning of, I could envision myself walking the route to the building and performing well in the actual space.

5. Eat Breakfast

Scrambled eggs, green tea, and a banana nut muffin. Quite simply, I ate foods that I knew would not upset my stomach or leave me feeling hungry too soon. Many people swear by bananas before an audition to assist with nerves!

6. Wear Lucky Pants

I always joke about my lucky pants, because they are the black dress pants that I wear for every audition and concert. (Express Editor Pants!) I have several pairs of them because they are comfortable and help me feel like myself. I also wore the same pair of broken-in black flats to each audition (after changing out of snow boots in snowy climates), and had gloves to keep my hands warm. 

7. Smile

As cheesy as it sounds, smiling at every person I encountered once I entered the audition building kept me feeling positive, and tricked me into feeling confident about being alone in a new place with strangers who were about to judge my playing. I also used some of Amy Cuddy's Power Posing ideas to feel even more confident.

8. Dance

If you were to ask me for the one thing I did to make my auditions better, it was this! I carved out considerable time to warm-up through exercise before every audition. I decided that adding in a 30-minute dance party to 90s boy bands would put me in a good mood, and it definitely did! I didn't want to take myself too seriously or find myself being overly-cautious in my every move before I was to play, so choosing to be ridiculous was the way to go. I followed this with some yoga to ground myself.

9. Have a Plan

Know the order in which you prefer to play pieces, because you may get to choose! I knew I wanted to get the Mendelssohn Scherzo out of the way early, but I wanted my strongest excerpts to come first to ensure I made a good first impression and felt the most confident. Adding labels to the sides of your music to easily find the next piece can help reduce stress as well!

 

How do you keep your auditions low-stress and fun? Tell me in the comments below!

 

How I Learned to Enjoy Festival Auditions + Improved My Scores

My favorite memories of middle and high school were all related to band. Hands down, the best experiences were performing in festival bands and orchestras - and not just because I got to miss a day of school! The pinnacle was performing in the Massachusetts All State Orchestra at Symphony Hall. I cried tears of joy while playing piccolo on Saint-Saëns' Bacchanale from Samson & Delilah. We also played Debussy's Fêtes from Trois Nocturnes, and it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard, and is still one of my favorites.

My auditioning career did not start off with a bang, however. It was pretty dreadful. 

My first audition was for the regional band festival at the middle school level. Here are all the things I did not know going in:

  • I knew I would be warming up in a room with other people, but didn't know I'd be hearing them flawlessly play everything I had to play.
  • I didn't know that the girl who nailed her chromatic scale in one breath while warming up would be first chair. (I assumed everyone was as good as her - they weren't.)
  • I didn't know that I should not be wearing jeans, a hoodie from PacSun, and bright red Vans sneakers on my feet. (After this, I found a pair of black dress pants, and decided to always wear a nice green top for auditions, because I heard that green makes people happy.)
  • I didn't know about rhythm. I later went back to the piece I had learned after a few years of lessons, and when I played it while actually reading the rhythms, I realized that I had been playing the main theme all wrong. 
  • I knew I would get to choose one scale, and the judge would choose the other, but I didn't know she would choose one of the hardest ones.

I ended up getting the second-to-last chair in band, and the only thing I remember about the festival rehearsals was hearing the first flutist playing beautiful solos. (I'm pretty sure I just pretended to play at the entire festival, because I was so nervous.)

Thinking about it now, it is hilarious that I was intimidated to play in a middle school group. I was picked for a reason, even despite my terrible rhythms! They wanted me there, and it was okay to play. 

After this, I gained confidence from my flute teacher and learned how to enjoy festival auditions. My scores improved each time I did it, and I enjoyed the festivals more and more.

 

FEELING NERVOUS?

If you ever feel nervous, someone will be there to tell you, "stop worrying, you'll be fine!" They'll probably also tell you to "just take some deep breaths." While this is well-meaning advice, it's not always intentional or specific enough to help. 

I learned to play well under pressure once I replaced nervous thoughts with excitement and curiosity. Treat the entire experience as an opportunity to learn something. Curiosity asks questions like this:

  • "I wonder if I can miss notes but still enjoy performing."
  • "I wonder what it is like to play in a really hot/cold room!"
  • "I wonder if I can enjoy each moment, including the mistakes."

Also say affirmative things to yourself, even if you don't believe it at first. It can be very effective in replacing nervous or negative thoughts:

  • "They're going to be so impressed!"
  • "I can't wait to show them how much I love this piece!"
  • "I can't wait to play just like (insert favorite musician)!"
  • "I hope I get to play after the best flutist here!"

Find freedom from nervous thoughts by twisting whatever you're nervous about into something that you hope will happen. You're outsmarting the nervous thoughts and staying one step ahead! (It sounds CRAZY to hope for all the things you don't want to happen, but this really works! It's all about perspective. Hoping for them will NOT make them happen. It WILL relieve you from feeling like you have no control over anxiety.)

 

Preparation Tips

  • Don't repeat quick-read mode: When you first get the piece, avoid the temptation to read through at tempo over and over. Eventually, whatever we thought the first time, we end up repeating over and over until it is a habit, meaning we're ingraining our first impression of what the piece should sound like. Always learn first, then practice!
  • Learn the rhythms first: Take the time to study the rhythms, saying or clapping with a metronome on. From my own experience, bad rhythms become a habit very quickly. Even if there is guidance to correct them, it can be difficult to hear the difference with less experience. Before you've heard the incorrect rhythms too many times, be sure to learn them.
  • Practice the audition day: Ask older students and your band director for as many specifics as possible to envision what the day will be like. Not only is it necessary to practice the music and scales, it is immensely helpful to envision the audition day environment as well. Take yourself through a mock audition day at home, practicing how you'll warm up, then walking to the audition room, etc. Also, play for as many people as possible, especially people who make you feel nervous! 

 

Final Thoughts

When looking back on my first audition, I can say now that it was okay to get it wrong. It was okay to be scared, but it wasn't necessary. I wasn't in danger. It takes courage to allow yourself to enjoy an experience despite feeling pressured and nervous, but it is a skill that translates to any other experience in life. Give yourself permission to enjoy - the judges will enjoy too!