Tips to ace exams & auditions

Recitals may seem confronting, but the presence of a live audience usually buoys us along. Subconsciously, even consciously, we respond to the interest and empathy from our listeners that may spur us on to play at even higher levels. But what of exams? And auditions for musicians and actors?


An audition or exam is often in a small room, where scribbling of comments seems painfully obvious. In our highly sensitised state, we often assume they’re writing “Mistake in bar 5” when they may be praising our great projection or fluent finger work!

Or a panel?

Auditions – the equivalent of a job interview – are a trial for both the musicians undergoing them and for the audition panel. Unfortunately, no better method has been found to assess talent, except occasionally a trial period, if a player’s background and reputation warrants. An audition can only artificially duplicate the atmosphere of a concert, as the specialised listeners are there solely to judge rather than to be entertained. But if they can be entertained in the process, so much the better; they are only human after all!

Who hears us?

On the one hand, the performer is keyed up and nervous, hoping to meet the highest standard on the day. On the other hand, the panel usually consists of hardened professionals who have heard it all before and hope that this one will be worth listening to when so many are not!

How to impress

Panellists do want to hear a good performance, one that will make them sit up and listen. They don’t want to be bored and embarrassed by your work. To the extent that you can hold their attention, you’ve got a chance of getting the job! They seek the best talent that they can engage and they are not concerned with your ego or belief that you should be the successful appointee. They will probably not be aware of the standard you are capable of reaching, though if their intuition suggests you could do better, they may ask you to repeat a passage or to try again at a later date.”

Keep trying

For eight months, Bette Midler auditioned for the same Broadway show, Fiddler on the Roof, every time there was a vacancy. Eventually she got a temporary place in the chorus, which gave her the advantage of knowing the production inside out when she auditioned for a star role successfully. From then, the sky was her limit.

Excerpt from Confident Music Performance 

         With solid preparation, positive attitude and a clear head, you can impress!