Ready for Audition Season? Here are the skills (and apps) you'll need this year.

Ready for Audition Season? Here are the skills (and apps) you'll need this year.

(This article was written by Powers Music School faculty member Andrew Sorg. Read his bio here.)

Audition Jurors notice your sound first!

A great sound is your best ticket to impressing an audition committee. You must use your best sound at all times not only on the solo, but on the scales as well.

Many students are capable of playing the scales and required solos and playing a very good audition, but still do not make the cut. This is because conductors want the players in their ensemble to have amazing sounds, because the ensemble will sound better. It's as simple as that.

About 80% of your score of any audition falls into the great sound category. Great music making means playing with a great sound, and a great sound will force the jurors to give you a high score.

Small mistakes are completely forgivable when you use a great sound, but nailing the entire audition with an undesirable sound means nothing.

Record yourself to truly hear how you sound weeks before your audition. Are you playing with your best possible sound?

Next, the Audition Jurors notice your time.

Great ensembles play with incredible rhythm, so you must use a metronome ALL THE TIME! Even if you dislike using the metronome, use it and get used to it. Professionals use the metronome every day, every time they practice!

Small mistakes are completely forgivable when you play with great rhythm!

Record yourself and see if you can tap to your rhythm.

There are plenty of iPhone apps that are easily accessible to help with rhythm (see below!). Some even create drum patterns to help one have more fun while using the metronome.

Thirdly, the Audition Jurors love artists, not machines.

Artists have emotions and opinions and connect the music they are playing to the emotions of their soul to make the music. Machines just play notes on a page.

Playing with vibrato makes you sound like you are singing and you will engage your audience if you play with musical opinions and emotion. Sell it! Tell your story! Keep the Audition Jurors completely engaged in your music making and they will love it! You must love the way you play to make others love your playing.

Once again, small mistakes are completely forgivable if you are an artist, using your instrument to convey your emotions.

Record yourself to see how expressive your phrasing is, if dynamics are broad enough and to see if you kept yourself engaged. Are you playing with great rhythm and groove? Are you an Artist or a Machine?

Check out these apps to help improve your tone, rhythm and expression:

  • Tempo is my favorite metronome (There are many good ones.... But not many STEADY mets!). It comes in different models... All good.
  • Time Guru is a gapping metronome that creates more confidence in steady tempo playing.
  • Drum School has HUNDREDS of drum set grooves to make practice fun and much more rhythmic in feel!
  • orfeo is an “old school” app that has a so-so metronome, BUT it has a great multi octave tone generator that you can finger-slide to the desired tone and octave to use as single pitch drones... Fast, fun and accurate.
  • Tunable is a great tuning app with many valuable functions. It is cheaper than Tonal Energy, which came first, and is just as valuable. They both have Just Intonation options and multi octave, multi timbre sounds for drone work.
  • Better Ears is an app that multi-function ear trains from beginner level to professional level! Try the free app. It's the most I've paid for an app ($14.95), but WAY WORTH it! I'm using it daily (part of the Boston Brass' Daily homework).
  • db Meter Pro is a decibel meter to track your sound output, projection, etc.
  • ClockWork is a stopwatch and countdown app with a Large Display...Easy to use in practice and rehearsals when timing tasks or music duration!!

Where to start? "Figure" by the group Propellerhead!! Have fun and jam to your inventions with your acoustic horn!! These are the beginnings of better ears and better connection to your horn. This is for the adventure of it! Try them!!!

This second grouping is the "next level" of apps to add when you get interested in making music (getting creative!).

Check them out on the App Store to see the function and details of each.

For listening apps, you have…

  • Your iPod (and now "Music" on apple devices)
  • Pandora radio - Use the like/don't like function to hear great things from Pandora
  • YouTube - Wow!! It's all there! And it’s free!!
  • Spotify - Follow musicians you want to learn from or your teachers want you to learn from by listening to what is important to them. Many great listening suggestions here.
  • NPR Music. - I like listening, watching, and reading about multiple styles afforded by this great app.

Many stations, blogs, and concerts to see and hear! Remember, You are what you listen to. Stay a fan of music with these apps!

Another great resource:
Download “Jamey Aebersold's Jazz Ear Training” (Book & 2-CD Set), available on Amazon.


Want more audition tips?

Our fall 2015 District Audition Workshop with Andrew Sorg will be held on Sunday, November 1, at 6:00 pm, All Saints' Church, 17 Clark Street, Belmont. The workshop fee is $15, or free for current Powers students. Registration is required.

Our annual audition workshop is designed to help high school musicians prepare for upcoming District Auditions in Massachusetts, or any other audition! Students are given helpful tips on how to prepare for and be in control during a music audition, as well as the unique opportunity to perform for and be critiqued by fellow participants.

Ready to register for the workshop?


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