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17 Must-See Resources if You're Preparing for an Audition

In the spirit of audition preparation, I've been collecting various resources on auditions, effective practice, mental skills, mock auditions, and more. There are countless resources available, but here are a few that I've found bookmark-worthy. Many of these resources contain further articles and links to even more resources that you may find useful in your own audition preparation.

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UNDERSTANDING + RE-FRAMING PERFORMANCE STRESS

 

Why I Don't Talk about "Stage Fright" and "Performance Anxiety" by Kate Conklin

  • "They’ve got the idea...that to perform, one should be “calm” or “relaxed.” And so when they experience *excitement, they re-interpret it as “stress” or “anxiety.”

 

Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement by A.W. Brooks

  • "Compared to those who attempt to calm down, individuals who reappraise their anxious arousal as excitement feel more excited and perform better. Individuals can reappraise anxiety as excitement using minimal strategies such as self-talk (e.g., saying "I am excited" out loud) or simple messages (e.g., "get excited"), which lead them to feel more excited, adopt an opportunity mindset (as opposed to a threat mindset), and improve their subsequent performance."

 

Go Ahead and Sweat It! A Flutist's Unconventional Guide to Handling Performance Anxiety by The Self-Inspired Flutist

  • "When you fight your performance anxiety, you actually give it strength." 

 

What To Do About Performance Anxiety by Barbara Conable

  • "There are four distinct phenomena that go by the name performance anxiety. Each requires a different response, so it is important to name all four and distinguish them from each other so that the appropriate response may be chosen."

 

A Few Things Every Musician Ought to Know About Stage Fright

  • "Have you ever had a performance when everything just “clicked?" ...You may have heard of this referred to as “the zone.” Well, this magical state pretty much requires that you experience some degree of anxiety. No anxiety, no zone."

 

Helen’s Highly Recommended Books for Confident Performance via The Flute Examiner

  • Fourteen resources compiled by Helen Spielman, Performance Anxiety Coach

 

Douglas Yeo, Trombone, on Performance Anxiety

  • "Think about all of this in a different way. Instead of trying to solve the problem of performance anxiety, think a little deeper and work toward putting your performance in context with your broader life. Performance anxiety may not really be a problem, but rather may be a symptom of other issues (such as insecurity, or emotional hurt, lack of preparation and dedication, etc.) which, once addressed in a straightforward, direct way, can lead to a healthier life in all areas."

PREPARING TO PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE + STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE MOCK AUDITIONS

 

Bulletproof Musician: How Can You Create the Feeling of Real Pressure in Practice Situations?

  • "Being clutch under pressure is a skill we can get better at – by practicing under pressure...What are the most effective ways of manufacturing pressure training situations in advance of a big performance or audition?"

 

How Juilliard Teaches Musicians to Handle Stress by Daniel McGinn with Noa Kageyama

  • "In another class, he makes them do burpees until they’re sweaty and breathing hard — then asks them to play for the group. “It’s distracting when your heart is pounding,” he says, but if you practice playing while feeling that sensation, it can become a little less unnerving."

 

Rob Knopper: How to Stop Shaking Snare Drum [Video] + Stress-Inducing Exercises Download

  • "Going through a realistic mock audition forces you to experience the full range of things that you're going to have to get used to and get comfortable with at an actual audition. If you're not practicing like this, then you're not really practicing for an audition."

 

Four Alternative Methods to Make Sure Your Practice Efforts Survive the Pressures of Performance - The Strad

  • "A violist with a background in neuroscience, Molly Gebrian shares some alternative practice methods informed by studies on how our brain processes learning."

 

Audition Practice - Mock Auditions by Toby Oft, Trombone

  • "I want you to consider one thing: The better you get, the less often you perform for just trombonists."

 

MockAuditions.com - An Online Platform to Help You Win Your Next Audition

  • "Mockauditions.com is an online platform that connects and enables users to play for professional coaches and receive valuable feedback." 

ADVICE for Advancing in Auditions + REAL AUDITION STORIES

 

Rob Knopper's Free Mini-Course: How to Advance in an Audition 101

  • A free, 3-video course: 4 Reasons Why Anyone Can Win an Audition, The 3 Vital Phases of Audition Preparation, & What a Winning Audition Sounds Like

 

How to Win an Audition: Advice and Strategies from 3 Renowned Performer/Teachers by The Bulletproof Musician

  • "We all know that success requires talent and hard work, but on some level, we’re also deeply curious about the “secret sauce,” or those tiny, but significant little details that can be the difference between advancing and going home, or winning and being runner-up."

 

New World Symphony Audition Panel Discussion [Video]

  • "NWS Coaches on Auditioning with Craig Morris (trumpet), Marianne Gedegian (flute), David Allen Moore (bass), William VerMeulen (horn), Daniel Matsukawa (bassoon), Jonathan Vinocour (viola), Mark Kellogg (trombone), Robert Davidovici (violin)."

 

Doug Rosenthal's A Tale of Two Auditions

  • "This is an account of a specific time in my specific life.  What I did for these specific auditions worked well enough specifically for me at these specific moments. I hope you find it helpful, insightful, or at the very least, entertaining."

Have you utilized any of the above resources? Share your favorite resources in the comments!

#PRACTICEROOMREVELATIONS

Instagram @joleneflute

facebook.com/practiceroomrevelations


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A Simple Trick for Better Breathing

Have you ever stopped to notice whether your breathing experience is different when your instrument is in playing position versus when you're not about to play?

The key physical difference for me is a tighter feeling in my chest and abdomen when my flute is on my face.

When I'm not about to play and my flute is down, my breathing goes back to being natural and automatic. 

Why do I experience these symptoms when I'm about to play?

Fear, expectations, perfectionism...

The feeling of tension comes and goes in varying degrees depending on how I'm feeling, what's on my stand, or whether or not I'm about to play on camera or for another person. 

I've also noticed that visually, having a flute up seems to block my view of anything below my chin, and this has a way of clouding my awareness of anything below my chin.

Suddenly, the easy, whole-body feeling becomes restricted, and I'm hyper aware of my upper body when the fear that I may not get enough air takes over.


The Quest for a Natural Breath

In order to translate naturally free breathing to my ready-to-play position, I've utilized a variety of poses while practicing to find comfortable, free breathing:

  • A generous bend in the knees
  • Bent over at the hip joints to free the abdomen
  • Standing on one leg, bent forward
  • Laying on the floor
  • Squat or Dugout Position

All of these encourage my abdominal muscles, back muscles, and arms to feel free, allowing efficient breathing, open sound, and the ability to play longer phrases with ease.

However, they aren't necessarily something I can call upon in a performance when I'm likely to need them the most.

(But if I could lay on the floor in the middle of an orchestra for the Afternoon of a Faun solo, I probably would!)


The Simple Trick

In order to translate the naturally free breathing that occurs when the flute is down, I decided to simply breathe while lifting the flute to my face, and once it was there, just start playing. 

I am certain this idea has been shared with me before, but I just recently realized how significant this is for maintaining a more naturally free experience.

I didn't need to actively free my chest and abdomen, they were simply free to begin with and stayed that way as I began playing!

Inhaling felt like no work at all.

I was no longer doing, taking, sucking in air. It was naturally a full-body experience, and I had plenty of air and great sound while playing.


Give it a Try!

Have you noticed a difference in how it feels to breathe? 

  • Take a breath without your instrument in playing position.

Notice the chest, the arms, the neck, the jaw, the abdomen, and so forth.

  • Next, bring the instrument up as normal, and take a breath as though you're about to begin playing. 

Is there a difference? What do you notice in comparison to the first breath?

  • Finally, bring your instrument back down, then inhale while lifting to playing position.

Is this a different experience? Has your awareness shifted? Does the length of you inhalation increase? 


Share your own experience in the comments below or on social media!

#PracticeRoomRevelations / @joleneflute


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Holy Grail Packet [+ Free Download]

I'm relatively organized when it comes to keeping my sheet music collection in order. I have everything separated by type into labeled magazine boxes and keep them in alphabetical order. 

That's not to say that half my bookshelf doesn't end up in scattered piles each and every week.

But at least everything has a place!

HolyGrailPacket

Some of my most-used, most-cherished items, however, live in their own, disorganized pile.

These are:

  • Handouts and exercises given to me by teachers during lessons, workshops, or master classes.
  • Exercises that have been generously shared online by their authors, such as those by the Self-Inspired Flutist.
  • My own hand-written notes on exercises that have been passed along through word-of-mouth by various teachers.

They are so special and so loved because of the memories and associations attached to them.

For this reason, I decided to compile them all into one, protected packet.

I can easily have them with me in my bag or on my stand with no worries of losing one of the sheets or wrinkling the pages.

What's in my Holy Grail Packet?


Get Started!

Do you have a collection of treasured handouts? Are there exercises that live in your head that you'd like to have on paper?

1. GATHER

Compile your handouts, write or type out notes, and transcribe exercises that aren't yet on paper. You may wish to scan and re-print handouts onto a new sheet of paper.

2. LIST

Write or type them out in order on the Contents sheet. You can even number the pages or add tabs to make it easier to find what you're looking for.

3. bind

Use a standard binder with a three-hole punch or page protectors, or have your packet spiral bound with a protective cover and backing.

4. SHARE & enjoy!

Share on Instagram using #PracticeRoomRevelations and tag @joleneflute!

Don't Forget About The Legs! 5 Awareness Exercises For Today's Practice Session

Does your awareness have a tendency to narrow as time goes on while practicing? I often begin with good intentions of feeling my feet grounding my entire body, but at some point, I lose full-body awareness and become only aware of what feels uncomfortable in the upper body or the notes on the page. 

Perhaps you've never considered the way your lower half influences the entire body while playing! Try the five exercises below while playing, and scan the body carefully for changes in tension and release, holding, or ease. 

1. Shifting Weight Forward and Back

  • Are you habitually standing with more weight on the heels or the balls of the feet as you play?
  • Scan the body for changes as you slowly shift forward and back from the heels to the balls of the feet.
  • Do you feel a change in the legs, the back, the abdominal muscles? Does the sound change as you play?
  • Notice your breathing as you do this:
    • I recently realized I felt quite locked and without breath, so I rolled from my heels to the balls of my feet, and felt a tremendous difference in my ability to play with freedom once I rolled forward from my locked position on the heels!

2. Shifting Between Left and Right Legs

  • Uncover which leg habitually receives more of your weight while playing.
  • By slowing shifting your weight side to side while you play, you may notice changes all the way up the body. 
    • Do you notice a release and increase in space in the opposite side body?
    • How do the ribs feel?
    • Does the opposite arm change in effort?
    • Does anything happen in the neck?

3. Standing on One Leg

  • Take it one step further by standing on only one leg, lifting one leg behind and leaning forward to maintain balance. (Something like this image of a Modified Warrior 3 Pose.)
  • Do you notice a change in your sound? Breathing? 
    • This elicits a change in resonance for me, and naturally allows the abdominal muscles to release, making breathing easier!

4. Walking in Place Along with the Tempo

  • Invite ankle movement by lifting the heels off the ground to the tempo. 
  • Embody the tempo beyond listening to the metronome or tapping one foot, while avoiding a locked-in-place stature. (Try this if you're prone to locked knees!)
    • What is it like to watch leg movement while you play?

5. Bend the Knees

  • Take the knees from locked to generously bent.
  • Notice the relationship between the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the back. 
    • Going from the extreme of locked knees to bent knees, I notice just how much my torso and abdominal muscles release and allow easier breathing and resonance.

 

Are you aware of your lower half and the relationship to the whole body while playing? Take the time to observe changes in the body while trying these 5 ideas during your practice session! 

#PracticeRoomRevelations

Leave a comment below to share your own discoveries, or use #practiceroomrevelations and tag @joleneflute on Instagram!

Practice Tracker [Free Printable Download]

Here is a free 31-day Practice Tracker to print and use to keep track of your daily practice habits!

  • Utilize the space at the bottom of the sheet to write your overall goals. Seeing them daily will help to motivate you!
  • In the boxes to the left, list the action steps, exercises, or daily habits that will help you achieve those goals! 
  • Mark off the box to the corresponding day after you've completed each exercise. 
  • Share your tracker on Instagram! Tag @joleneflute or use #practiceroomrevelations!
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#practiceroomrevelations

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

How A Video Revealed a Surprising Fact About Expressive Movements

I recently made a side-by-side duet video of the Flower Duet from Lakme. I noticed something really interesting while watching it back-- my movements were synchronized without even thinking about it. 

Take a Look:

The parts follow the same shape in most of the duet, and my body follows similar shapes as well! When the parts differentiate towards the middle, my movements separate, but when they come back to the opening theme, my movements align once again.

What does this reveal? 

I did not do this on purpose. I wasn't even thinking about it! Our patterns of movement are so deeply ingrained, that when we produce the same piece over and over, we are likely moving our bodies in very similar patterns every time!

I took it a step further and made a side-by-side comparison from my Ibert Piece practice session to see if my movements would line up.

And sure enough, they do! While it is more subtle, and there are slight differences in tempo between the two takes, I noticed several key things:

  • I pull up and back the same way both times in the opening, then bring my face back down slightly.
  • I pull my right arm up and back at the same spot, and release it back down while taking a breath.
  • In the second clip, I bow down and rapidly pull back up both times.

How Can I Use This Information?

These patterns are information that you can use to break yourself out of movements that might be holding back expression or ease in certain moments!

For example, in my second clip, pulling my arm up and back just before the breath led to a more dramatic movement while taking the breath, which may prevent ease and efficiency. I can now try allowing my arms to release at that moment in preparation for the breath.

Choosing an alternative movement from the one your body naturally creates gives you the chance to experience a new feeling while playing a piece!

Become aware of your habits and unlock the possibilities!

 

May Technique Workout [+ 3 Free Downloads!]

I am excited to start May off with a boatload of fun ways to re-energize your daily technique workout! I received multiple requests for technique tips and a request for a technique plan or calendar. The possibilities are endless with regards to technique, books, schedules, and so on, but with some careful thought and lots of great feedback from Instagram, here is what I came up with!

There are three main parts with corresponding downloads! The first is my own flute-specific workout plan containing my core technique exercises and a breakdown of ways to practice them. Second, a prompt sheet containing ideas to invigorate your technique workout. Third, a 31-day tracker to view your progress!

A video complete with tips and demonstrations of the exercises in the Workout Plan will be shared soon!


1. WORKOUT PLAN

I have nailed down my top 6 most-utilized technique exercises (and some others that I want to bring back into my daily/weekly routine), and have listed several ways to approach them. Embrace the possibilities within each exercise and enjoy the beginner's attitude each new day!

Scale Game for Taffanel and Gaubert No. 4:


2. Prompt Sheet

In need of more inspiration for your scales? Use the prompt sheet to change the mood, play in a spectrum of colors, and add ornaments and trills to spice up your daily exercises! This is merely a jumping-off point and a reminder to always be musical!


3. WORKOUT TRACKER

If you're a visual person, the bullet-journal style Workout Tracker will break down your technique menu for the month, providing visual motivation to fill in as many boxes and days as possible!

  • Write the name of your exercises in the boxes on the left.
  • The numbers 1-31 represent each day in May. Upon completing an exercise, mark the box! 
  • If you are rotating through exercises, the tracker will make it easier to see which exercise comes next. For example, if time allows only playing the Flat or the Sharp keys, fill in # or b so you'll know which keys to focus on the next day!
  • There are lots of spaces to fill this up with anything you'd like to keep track of!

Following Along?

Use #practiceroomrevelations and tag me @JoleneFlute! 

Be sure to like PracticeRoomRevelations on Facebook!

Free Download: February Inspiration Calendar

Happy February! I am excited to share a new resource to boost your inspiration in the new month! If you're looking to have more breakthroughs by changing up your practice behaviors, this is for you. The Monthly Inspiration Calendar for Musicians disperses ideas or actions towards inspiration throughout the 28 days of February, and I have personally utilized these actions to great success any time I have needed help getting out of a rut. (Consider these the "Small Jolts" mentioned in the post on Replacing Guilt with Inspiration.)

How to Use It

  • 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. See my example below!

Setting Your Monthly Goals

Take a moment to reflect and check-in on goals, experiences, and behaviors, ask: "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 are my own:

Observations

In the past month, I have had a positive experience with recording Altes etude #2. I am learning to stay focused, pacing myself while recording these etudes. I have thought about the balance between making an effort musically without falling apart before completing. 

Many times, I felt quite closed or without flexibility. I realize that I have not been breathing fully and efficiently, and the video camera (and long etude ahead) have me closing in and overthinking my movements. I also notice that my articulations are not always as clear as I'd like when listening back.

Changes to Make

In recording etudes, I feel that I can play more musically through making greater preparations and outlining intentions for each and every moment, avoiding questions and doubts creeping in that take me out of the moment. 

I have the resources to remember efficient breathing as I once did, and can spend more time moving and in constructive rest, noticing the involvement of the legs and balance in breathing.

Goals

  • Prepare Etude of the Week etudes carefully, including every breath mark and specific notes on dynamics and mood.
  • Implement a daily constructive rest habit to check in with the movements of breathing, translating them into my practice session.
  • Practice Intention: Allow the ribs to move upon inhalation, and maintain buoyancy upon exhalation. 

Calendar

Without further ado, here is your Inspiration Calendar! Click the image or click the button below to download your free PDF!

CORRESPONDING LINKS

 

I would love to see your calendars in action! Use the hashtag #practiceroomrevelations and tag @JoleneFlute so I can share in the excitement!

Happy Practicing!

Customize Your Warm-Up: Two Ways To Get More Out of Exercises

When I first learned about the four-part formula for a practice session (Tone, then Technique, then Etudes, then Repertoire), I committed to it completely. However, I found myself spending a lot of time on tone and technique exercises, often running out of time or energy before making it all the way through repertoire. In addition, my fundamental work was very often exactly the same each day. I implemented the same pretty good ideas over and over again each day, but rarely had a new a-ha moment from them. Does this sound familiar to you?

Here are two ways to freshen up your warm-up and fundamentals and make your warm-ups work for you and your repertoire.

Bring Context To Your Exercises

When you’re doing your exercises, warm-ups, scales, long tones, harmonics, etc., place whatever repertoire you’re working on in front of you. Choose a section and consider the mood, character, type of air stream needed, the articulation patterns, dynamics, phrase lengths and breath marks.

Now, apply some of these musical ideas to your exercises. For example, if you're working on Moyse's De La Sonorite, play what's on the page, but in the style of the opening to the Dutilleux Sonatine. Now try it like Jolivet, C.P.E. Bach, or the Firebird excerpt! Each one feels different, right? Bringing specific musical contexts to your every day exercises will bring a fresh perspective, and ensure that you're thinking musically while observing. The warm-up should prepare you to play, and you're now ensuring that your warm-up is specifically warming you up for the repertoire ahead. Playing a complete exercise in all keys in the specific styles needed for a piece will give you lots of opportunities to refine your set-up, too.

"Bringing specific musical contexts to your every day exercises will bring a fresh perspective, and ensure that you're thinking musically while observing."

FIND EXERCISES WITHIN REPERTOIRE

Okay, now let's try the opposite. Put the actual notes from your repertoire into your exercise. This can be very simple, such as choosing several notable intervals to sneak into your De La Sonorite. Or, add the broken chords from Mozart's G Major Concerto into your arpeggio exercises in Moyse's Gammes et Arpèges or Taffanel and Gaubert exercises. You can even take a note from Robert Dick's Tone Development Through Extended Techniques, and turn a Bach Sonata into a Throat Tuning exercise.

Altering repertoire to learn and improve is something that you're probably already doing! The difference, however, is that now we are borrowing the notes and applying them specifically to familiar exercises.

Here's My Breakthrough:

During a recent warm-up on long tones, I found myself working towards a set-up that was conducive to playing luscious high notes at a soft dynamic. I found myself playing notes from the Daphnis et Chloe excerpt, and realized I was playing them more freely than usual! Normally, I look at Daphnis and start panicking about rhythms, the opening run, changing colors, etc. Taking only key notes while I was in sound-exploration mode helped me understand what kind of mind-set and airsteam I'll need for that excerpt. Once I felt that I was producing those sounds naturally, I played the excerpt in full and had a very different experience.

WHY IS THIS HELPFUL? CHANGING CONTEXT CHANGES YOU

Where do you spend more time luxuriating and observing a small collection of notes? During warm-up / fundamental practice, or while practicing a piece? When I’m on actual exercises, I’m super focused on improving. When I'm at the repertoire stage of practice, more factors come into play. It can be easier to feel distracted and start jumping around too quickly before solving a problem. 

One of the greatest benefits, however, is injecting actual musical context into fundamentals. If you need a fresh idea for which character you'd like your Taffanel and Gaubert scales in, look no further than your repertoire!