Thoughts to prepare you for an orchestral audition.

guarnaschelliIf you are young and you are thinking that you would like to have a job as a horn player in a professional orchestra, you should already be thinking about the direction in which you are taking and the frequency of your training with this objective in mind.

Unfortunately, practicing for years may be far from preparing you for this purpose.  To be a good orchestral musician you must prove that you are able to withstand a trial year once you win an audition. 

The orchestra does not look mainly for soloists; rather they look for instrumentalists who know how to perform with their group, work as a team, and someone who is sensitive to what is happening around them. 

First at all, there are two fundamental technical aspects, rhythm and intonation.  We have to consider many others too, but without these two you cannot play in an orchestra or with other musicians. 

If you want to win an audition you should basically be a person who listens to a lot of many different versions of music and knows these works very well, because in an audition, a good jury will be aware of this aspect by the way you perform every solo. 

Training for an audition has several aspects to consider: the technical, the artistic and the physical.

The technical aspect includes your development to the point of having a clean technique, and good intonation with the appropriate articulation in the style of each piece you are performing.  The artistic aspect includes understanding of styles, articulation, sound, phrasing and character that is appropriate with each composition. 

Secondly, the physical aspect is something to consider.  Doing some activity that helps you feel physically and mentally fit.  Remember the famous "mens sana in corpore sano"! (“healthy mind, healthy body”!) . It can be yoga (for me personally, this practice has always helped me to feel balanced in all senses, mental and bodily) or your favorite sport.

The mental state and confidence in yourself is very important when you are auditioning.

Something very significant that I want to emphasize is that all these aspects must be added to your daily practice, even if you are already a professional.

If you practice only one or two months before an audition, you will not succeed.  Only a definitive change of your playing habits will define whether a jury will decide in your favor or whomever else they listen to that demonstrates better technique and musicianship. 

Remember, you will have a maximum of 5 minutes in the first round in which you must demonstrate to the jury that it is worth their while to consider you in the next rounds.  You must convince them with of your impeccable technique, musicianship and tone qualities.

What the jury values most in the first round is rhythm, intonation, articulation and tone.

For the next rounds, in addition to the qualities already stated, they will evaluate more closely your knowledge of style and your artistic quality. 

Remember that they are looking for the ideal "colleague" who will improve the quality of their team and their orchestra, and they are not looking for an advanced student, but look for a solid professional, capable of performing the job being offered. 

Another tip is that you should listen to important works of our symphonic repertoire every day, which also includes chamber music, string music, and opera.  This will cultivate your musical sense and development as a well rounded musician.

If you are not excited listening to music or you don’t want to play music in your free time with friends or colleagues, I recommend you seriously consider studying something else ... the music profession is very competitive.  Without a fanatical passion you will not achieve more than that of being a hobby musician.

These thoughts that I have shared are results of my own personal experience in preparation for auditions in Germany, France and Austria, and also my experience in orchestras where I was a soloist and I participated as a member of a jury including the Stuttgart Philharmonic for 4 years and Radio and TV in Vienna (RSO) for 16 years. I have experience as a teacher for over 10 years at the Brass Academy Alicante where I help my students achieve their professional goals as musicians. 

All professors in this International Academy train students to prepare themselves technically and stylistically as professional musicians so that in the long or short term they are able to perform good auditions and be able to make their positive contributions toward the orchestra that they achieve to get into.

For this purpose, we not only do individual classes, but we also include chamber music and orchestral repertoire in groups.  That way you not only get to know the solos and individual parts, but get experience them in the context as they are in the orchestra. 

Group classes also train in live performing, developing emotional stability under real life situations 

You will only succeed with your solos in an audition if you know the context in which they were written.

I want to share with you some audio examples of our orchestral repertoire classes at the Brass Academy Alicante: 

Fidelio- Beethoven, Nury Guarnaschelli and her BAA´s students
Mahler´s 3th Symphony
Bruckner´s 8th Symphony

Finally, I want to share with you some points for your daily practice.

You should ALWAYS be prepared and ready to take an audition, not just prepare for a specific moment.

Your daily practice should develop:  

  • Technique (Flexibility, breathing, attacks, etc.)
  • Technical studies (rhythm, tuning, articulation, and phrasing)
  • Concertos
  • Orchestral solos, solo and playing along with a good recording.
  • Concentrated listening to good orchestras every day, preferably with a score in hand.
  • Listening to concerts and opera regularly.
  • Play chamber music or in orchestras (young or professional) as much as possible.
  • Daily yoga or sport.


Brass Academy Alicante

English translation by Gabriella Ibarra

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