Alexander Technique and auditioning

14 Feb 2013


Doing an audition is mentally and physically demanding. It causes most musicians more nervousness than a regular concert because it is an unnatural situation from a musical point of view (the screen, lack of applause, short fragments taken out of their musical context, the absence of a complete musical composition, being overly focused on ‘not making any mistakes’).

The Alexander Technique can help you to overcome any obstacles and truly rise to the occasion by achieving the following:

1.  Practising in a thorough way, but above all in a calm and positive manner. This prevents nervousness, cramped coordination and injuries.

2. Moving in a balanced way. Releasing excess tension and breathing freely. This creates more space for you to fully express your musical emotions!

3. Finding a balance between technique and music. These are in fact inseparable from each other. If you practise a passage focusing on technical aspects, don’t disconnect your musical feeling, but stay aware of the lines and colours. Precisely because an audition is such an unnatural situation from a musical point of view, it is essential that you stay focused on the musical aspects. Your gut musical feelings, your enjoyment of the music and ability to hear the other parts in your head; these things will really help you to get a grip on the situation. Then you will automatically experience more technical ease, you will be less likely to make mistakes and your nervousness will decrease.

4. Preparing for an audition in a balanced way. Practise hard and well, but not too much (for string players, 4 hours per day is the absolute maximum, but you will also manage fine on 2 hours a day)!  You don’t want to tire yourself out, so that you are not in peak condition for the audition itself. The most ideal way is to practise the most in the beginning, so that you can take things a bit easier in the final week (or 2 weeks) and only have to maintain your level. Excessive practice also increases the likelihood of suffering pain and injuries. Alexander Technique helps you to find the optimal balance as a result of being more aware of yourself, your body and your thoughts and feelings. This puts you in a position to respond to your needs more adequately.

5. Accepting that you are nervous. Probably (hopefully) you already experience bouts of nervousness beforehand and naturally during the actual audition. Nervousness itself is not the problem (up to a certain degree), as you can train how you react to feeling nervous. You can practise reacting positively to your nervousness and use it to benefit and enrich your musical expression. You can learn to prevent cramping and keep all your movements supple. If you feel nervous beforehand, you can visualise doing the audition and actually being even more in touch with your musical feeling in spite of your nerves, as well as maintaining a strong mental state.

Some extra tips:

– Start preparing in time, so that you are ready a few weeks in advance,

– Organise some try out performances (I would suggest at least three times),

– Record yourself occasionally and afterwards only study the parts that you were dissatisfied with.

– Only do the audition if you can actually take the time needed to prepare for it thoroughly.

So there’s just one thing left for me to say:

Good luck!!!