Posts Tagged ‘auditions’

Later today I have an audition for the Wheaton Municipal Band, an audition which is almost entirely composed of sight-reading, except for a short prepared excerpt.
The bassoon excerpt, incidentally is a Handel Allegro in C minor, probably arranged from something for cello, which is full of sequences and scalar lines like any good Baroque solo work. Needless to say I’ve enjoyed preparing it — I’m a sucker for Baroque-style technical passages.

But back to sight-reading.

According to Mr. Hunt (my primary source on the Wider Musical World), an audition like this one, so primarily focused on pure-sight reading, is extremely rare. At most orchestral auditions, you get a list in advance of a number of excerpts and pieces to have prepared, and you dutifully prepare and perfect them. The surprise comes when they tell you what to play for the first round of auditions, but even so you’re going to know it at least a little bit.
This audition is fun, exciting, and completely terrifying in that, except for that lovely little prepared piece, I have never seen the music before. I’ll get a little while (about a minute per piece, maximum) to look it over, and then give it my best shot. If it’s good enough, I’ll get a position.

Perhaps the very best thing about this audition is that I can’t prepare for it. This is nice, since I’m working on a LOT of music right now, but also kind of frustrating. What if it’s just hard music for me to sight-read? But at the same time, sight-reading shows a musician at his or her foundations: what are you good at? Do you have a beautiful tone, even when you miss a note? Do you have terrific natural technique? Can you actually read tenor clef? (By the way, look forward to a post soon about the merits of tenor clef. It’s going to be exciting!) Are you the kind of person who rarely misses an expressive marking, or an accidental?
Sight-reading is also really fantastic as a practicing technique, because it tells you the first things you need to work on. Maybe the runs in the piece are easy, but intonation is going to be a butt. And so on and so forth.

But as it so happens, much as I value sight-reading, I am pretty terrible at it. I’m not sure why. A friend of mine suggested that good sight-readers tend to be people who are good at math. I’m actually pretty good at math (that is to say, I took BC Calc as a junior and got a 5 on the AP test?), but I am not a good sight-reader. This may partially be due to fear, because I get scared that people will judged me based on a missed note or botched run or the way that one of the Ds on my bassoon is really flat unless I make sure to really support it.
So I guess this is my time to learn confidence?

We’ll see how it goes.
And, while I’m doing this audition, what do you think about sight-reading? And why? I’m curious — and it’ll distract me from my own inevitable failures at the exercise. 🙂

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