Greed Will Kill Your Audition

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by Eddie Lewis

Due to covid-19 hysteria, the way all-region and all-state band auditions are being held is different this year. This video and blog post discuss a huge trap that you can fall into if you are not careful.

Greed Will Kill Your Audition

greed wil kill your audition

This year’s all-region and all-state auditions in the state of Texas are being held remotley using some sort of band app. I’m not a big fan of this approach because I see literally dozens of ways to cheat. I do not advocate cheating. I am opposed to cheating, but I believe it’s important to be congnitive of the problems with these procedures.

However, what we’re talking about today is not the flaws in the system, but the performance trap many of the students will fall into if they are not careful.

Part of what I do for a living is recording. I did my first jingle when I was 19 years old, a Budwiser commercial that ran in Mexico for a number of years. I have been doing recording sessions ever since. So I know that life. I know it well. And I know all the performance traps that go with it.

Some of you will be experiencing these traps yourself during these auditions. The way it is setup, you are allowed to trash recordings of each etude until you have one that you like. This is very similar to what life is like in the studio.

What’s the Problem?

Greed is the problem. It’s natural to think that “this take was okay, but I know I can do better on the next one.”

It’s a catch 22 situation.

Maybe you could do better if you try again, but it will also become more difficult to do well as you progress. Yes, physical endurance is part of that growing difficulty, but it’s more than just that. There are emotions you will begin to experience that most of you have never experienced before. This is not like normal stage fright. In fact, it’s not stage fright at all. This is something different. The best word I can use to describe it is greed.

It’s a kind of greed that convinces you that you need to hold out for something better. You want so badly to win the audition and the takes you’ve done so far are simply not good enough. You want it to be almost perfect, and you mistakenly believe that, if you keep traying, you have a chance of getting exactly that.

I can tell you from experience, recordings don’t work like that. Your quest for perfection can eventually lead to panic. With panic comes full-fledged crash and burn scenarios.

How to Avoid it

One thing you can do to avoid killing your audition is to slow the entire process down. Give yourself time to breath and think between takes. Try singing and fingering the etudes between each recording. This will help you stay focused and it will also help you to spend enough time resting between takes.

Another thing you can do is try to have fun with the music. Be expressive. Commumicate your feelings through the etudes. Joke around (even if it’s with yourself). Don’t take the auditions so seriously.

And that’s a very important point…

I have been saying for many years that winning all-region or all-state is a lot like playing the lottery. It doesn’t really say much about you as a musician. Yes, we celebrate when you win, just like we would celebrate if you won the lottery or any other kind of contest. But winning cattle call contests is not a genuine indicator of you ability as a musician.

Well, that’s even more true with these auditions, for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into today. I have spoken about this a lot in the lessons and if you are my student, then you know what I’m talking about. This year’s all-region is more of a lottery than it ever was.

So please don’t take them overly serious. There’s no point in it.

That’s especially true when you consider just how many different ways students can cheat this year.

Another thing you can do to avoid the trap is just stop being greedy. If you’ve done ten takes and you just KNOW you can do better, then you’re not being honest with yourself. Truly great players don’t need ten takes. If your recording was going to be better, then you would have had a “keeper” in the first three or four takes. Chances are, if you keep trying to hold out for perfection, then you will probably have a horrible, crash and burn experience.

Questions?

If you have questions about what I’m sharing here, please do not hesitate to ask. I have been doing recording sessions since the early 80’s and have been teaching private students to compete in all-region and all-state since 1980. I have a lot of experience with this stuff and I don’t mind sharing what I know.

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