A bad attitude and the inability to work with others can outweigh your proficiency as a drummer. When it comes to an audition or playing gigs, you’ll notice people who are difficult to work with eventually get phased out. I’ve seen numerous drummers with amazing ability get cut from group after group because their ego and bad attitude clashed with other members and the staff. Below are 3 points to remember at your next high school, WGI, or DCI audition.
1. Don’t dispute any comments you get.
Many times young drummers do this without even realizing it in an audition setting. If you’re told to “lower your taps”, the appropriate response is “Thank you" or "I will”(or some derivation of that). The inappropriate response is “really, I didn’t think they were that high,” or “that’s not how my instructor told me how to play them,” or the worst response, “I know”. The person running the audition wouldn’t have said anything to you if the change wasn't needed. You are at the audition to be part of their drumline. You need to demonstrate that you’re coachable and easy to work with. Always demonstrate that you’re open to feedback and willing to make changes immediately.
2. Take time to build a relationship with the returning members.
Believe it or not, many drumline instructors will ask the returning members for feedback on people who are on the cusp of making the line. If the drumline unanimously says that you’re a jerk or you have an ego problem, you’re probably not going to make it. If they really like you but you don’t quite have the ability yet, they will still probably take you over a slightly better player who is harder to deal with.
3. Lastly, be gracious when you get cut.
You will most likely be cut from at least 1 instrument or group in your drum career. If you are cut, always ask for genuine feedback and thank them for the opportunity to audition for their group. Take detailed and copious notes, and be ready to come back to the next audition showing them how much you have progressed. Trust me, this will go a long way.
No matter where you go, the staff wants to surround themselves with people they can tolerate being around everyday for the full season. There have been drumlines in the past with amazing potential, but were ruined by egos and pride. The staff knows how to spot these people, just as well as they can spot great drumming talent. Stay hungry and stay humble.
Author: John McClean