It is perfectly natural to be nervous during a “high stakes” moment such as an audition or standardized test. Even a little anxiety can help you keep focused, but too much can corrupt your concentration and ability to perform at a high level. Here are a few tips to minimize audition nerves.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
There is no solution for overcoming nervousness like being too prepared. Start preparations early. Don’t procrastinate. Listen to the advice of your peers. Record yourself. Listen, evaluate and make adjustments to your performance. Have others listen and critique.
Many musicians have read The Inner Game of Tennis. There is also a sequel entitled The Inner Game of Music. These books are great resources and can help with the psychological aspects of performing.
Practice the 3-Time Rule
An important technique to master is the 3-Time Rule. If you can perform a solo three times in a row at a specific tempo, you should be able to perform well under pressure. If you find the difficulty level too high, consider selecting another piece. To reach an artistic stage, your performance should seem natural. Showing attacks, releases, ritardando, shaping phrases will be more impressive than trying to perform too many notes poorly.
Visualize the Audition
Find yourself a quiet room. Set the stage for your audition and close your eyes. Try and imagine what you might anticipate at your audition. What does the room look like? Who is present at the audition? What will you say to your panel of peers? Educate yourself and learn from others’ experiences about what you should and should not do at an audition.
Don’t put all of your audition eggs into one basket. Audition at more than one music program – you could learn of different audition formats. Tryout for an All-District or All-State ensemble. Participate in solos and extracurricular ensembles. The more times you perform, the more at ease you will be at your audition(s). And have fun! If you are enjoying yourself, your nerves will go away.
Nervousness is complementary to you taking your audition seriously. Collegiate faculties that are watching will respect this of you as a performer. Be confident. Even the greatest of performers get anxiety. Just remember, if you practice, prepare, and have fun, you will minimize audition nerves. Becoming a master of your craft could yield scholarship opportunities and the chance to attend your program of choice.