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Useful Tips: Final Weeks Leading Up To Your Audition

Audition season is upon us yet again. By this time you’ve already selected the drum corps your looking to march and have learned the packet. You have your travel booked and the logistics worked out. You’ve watched the videos of the prior years drum corps on YouTube and you’re feeling good. What should you be doing in the final countdown to auditions? What is the best use of your time in these precious last moments? Do you know what you need to be focusing on? Odds are, 80% of your competition has done just as much as you have and have prepared in a similar manner. At this point your still in the middle of the bell curve.  In order to increase your chances of success you need to do what others aren't willing to do. You have to simulate the external pressure of an audition to ensure you’ve left no stone unturned.

There’s no doubt one of the most challenging aspects of an audition is playing under pressure. This is also one of the least practiced pieces of the audition. Anyone can play through the packet in the comfort of their own home. Few can play with that same level of proficiency under the eyes of not only their competition but the eyes of the auditioning staff. I’ve seen this pressure cripple players year after year. These players had great sound quality, tempo and rhythms...at their house. After they get cut they chalk up the results to a “bad audition”. I don't. It’s just poor preparation. Everyone gets butterflies but with being deliberate and intentional with what you’re practicing you can train those butterflies to fly in formation.

You must reduce the level of anxiety you have and reap the benefits of fewer physiological changes(increased heart, sweaty palms and muscle tightness. Below are 2 easy tips that can be extremely beneficial).


1. When I auditioned for Blue Devils I printed out a picture of Scott Johnson(glorious mullet and all) and taped it to my practice mirror. Drummers get star struck when they see big name instructors and tend to get nervous in their presence. I knew that if I could get used to his presence I could remove the obstacle that haunted so many others at the audition. It worked. When Scott walked up to others drumming they couldn’t focus and would break. Since Scott(the computer print out version) attended all of my practice sessions, this was just another day in the office for me.


2. You need to play in-front of people whose opinions matter to you. You need to get out of your comfort zone and ask people watch you play the packet and show music by yourself. The more your practice in your comfort zone, the worse your odds of making the line will be. This is especially true with precious final weeks leading up to the audition. This will be awkward, uncomfortable and make you nervous. Guess what... so will the audition. As hard as it is to do this, it’s an absolute must. The unfortunate part is that many of you will read this and take no action. Your ego will tell you that you don’t need to do this. When you get cut, reflect back on this and ask yourself if you think it would have helped. I urge to do everything within your power to make this part of your final preparation.


It’s not too late to do this. There's still time. Don’t look back at this next audition and wish you would have put in the extra effort. Don't let your ego tell you that you’re too good to do this. Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life. You can decide how you want this next audition to play out.


Author: John McClean

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