Input and tips on audition for Jazz-studies.

Thaard

Platinum Member
Hello all.

I've applied for a higher education in jazz(drumming) and I've already picked my tunes, and studying theory as we speak.

There's 2 tests. One audition where you play 3 tunes with the "house" band in front of a jury, and one theoretical test some days later.

The tunes that I've picked are: Miles Davis - So What, Dizzy Gillespie - A night in tunisia and Herbie Hankock - Cantaloupe island(Kind of unoriginal, but I didn't want to search for notes or use a year on transcribing each tune).

Anyways, the audition goes like this. You meet up and talk 10 minutes with the band, about how you want the tunes to be played(length of solo's and such).
You then play 1 tune, then the jury decides if you're good enough to play the 2 others.
You have 10 minutes of play-time per tune.

I've been making this drive-plan for each tune, and practicing to recordings, so everything is down 100%.
I will have 1 solo per tune, using different type of soloing and playing. For example switching to brushes on So What under the pianists solo and maybe have a more musical solo, than for example on A night in tunisia or Cantaloupe Island.

What I'm wondering is: Which tune should I play first?

I'm also wondering what the jury's look after at these auditions.
I'm going to prioritize groove/swing, communication and technique. Is there anything else I should practice?
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I would pick the song that takes the most explanation for the band. Show off the fact that you know more about music than just drumming. You need to show the jury that you are a musician and not just a drummer. Talk to the band about how you want to phrase things. Talk to the piano player about dropping down during his solo because you are going to brushes. Tell them how you want to play the song. Use as much musical language as possible without coming off as a know-it-all. Show them that you are a leader. If you get past the first song, maybe make a big deal about doing it the other way around. Talk to the band about what they want and show you can support other musicians. Trying to show a jury that you are a well rounded musician in the space of one conversation and three songs is tough, but you want to try to get as much in as you can, and I'm not talking about drum licks! :) Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
Hi Thaard,

Sounds like you are on the right track. Two quick ideas:

1. "The perfect is the enemy of the good"- Voltaire.

In other words, don't worry so much about getting a perfect performance that it impairs your ability to just relax and play/communicate. If you get too worked up about the performance the nervous energy will hinder more than it helps. I totally understand that it can be difficult to have perspective at important moments like this (I know I was super nervous when I auditioned the first time), but I can tell you from experience, it is just as important to come off as a calm and confident musician as it is to appear to have everything perfectly planned.

2. I think the first song should be tailored to the program that you are applying to and the band you are playing with. What style of jazz to they prioritize? What are they the most likely to want to hear? I would base your choice on that consideration.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
Thanks for the reply guys. Much appreciated!

It's a jazz-study, so I will probably either take So What or Night in tunisia first, since they are the most standard, and Cantaloupe is more jazz fusion. I'm a bit torn about who to pick though. Night in tunisia is more technical but So What has a nice feeling going on.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Congratz onn gettin edukayted Tharrdy :)

I can't really suggest anything since I'm unedukayted. Great choice of songs, though!

I'd be tempted to start with the easiest one as a loosener, probably Cantaloupe.

Well done getting Tunisia down; I never made sense of that rhythm. Actually, I wish it was a little less sophisticated so I could hook into it but that's just me.

Break a leg!
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
Just an update: Had the first audition today and didn't get through to second round.
I forgot to tell the bassplayer that he should stop playing when I was soloing. Therefore the solo didn't go well. I got told I played too much groove and too little "technical stuff". I didn't "sell" myself enough so to speak. I'm pretty bummed out, but I'm going to be applying next year. Not giving up.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Commiserations Thaardy. I knew the competition was hot out there in drumland these days but for a player at your level to miss out is hard for me to imagine. Maybe Brian Blade and Leon Parker were vying for spots on the program and bumped you? :)

It would have been helpful to be given a brief beforehand to let you know that they will rate technicality over taste. Without letting you know, I'm wondering if they are going to churn out high level jazz players or showoffy shredders.
 

JerryOnDrums

Senior Member
Just an update: Had the first audition today and didn't get through to second round.
I forgot to tell the bassplayer that he should stop playing when I was soloing. Therefore the solo didn't go well. I got told I played too much groove and too little "technical stuff". I didn't "sell" myself enough so to speak. I'm pretty bummed out, but I'm going to be applying next year. Not giving up.

That's ridiculous. Any jazz program that doesn't place PRIMARY emphasis on a good grooving triplet feel and a solid quarter-note pulse within the swing isn't doing it right, IMHO. "Too much groove"? That in and of itself is an outlandish thing to say. I'd find another program if you could!
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
They actually wrote that they would be judging improvisation and technique highly, but it was kind of ridiculous. I was told by someone else that they judged on communication between the participants, which I felt went good. Looks like I should've just shredded like an idiot :p

The funny thing is that they have a lot of shredders. I was listening to someone of the persons playing before me, and it was 1 minute of stiff grooving and 9 minutes of "BOOM BOOM BOOM CRASH PLING PLONG".
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
I seriously do not understand these schools.

Is this a school by itself, or is it part of a college of a university?
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
I seriously do not understand these schools.

Is this a school by itself, or is it part of a college of a university?
University. It's got a lot of merit and good players(just heard some of them). Funny thing is that I'm naturally a shredder.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I don't understand this ... an audition where they expect musicians to turn off their ears and spray their pat chops around. Are you sure it's a jazz program and not a prog metal program??

Maybe the angle of music schools is the reason why there's so many mad shredders out there who seemingly lack lyricism?

Still, the stiff groover with the noisy chops may have missed out too - hope so.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Thaard, just watch your playing, I can't believe they said no thanks to you! You can obviously play, you have some chops (from what I can tell), and your time is strong. You're obviously going to do well in any jazz program, I'm surprised they passed on you.

It sounds like they had already auditioned enough drummers and had given away all the spots, so they were looking for an excuse to not take you. This whole "you didn't play enough" is weak reasoning, and everyone knows it. The bassist playing over your soloing is minor stuff, too.

You could have maybe picked an up-tempo piece (Tune Up, Seven Steps, Impressions, etc.) to demonstrate comping at high speeds, and trading fours or 8s or whatever. Beginners and rookies are usually too intimidated to try that stuff. Even then, though, your place in line probably had more to do with the outcome than anything else.

You should definitely look around for another program if you can.
 

JoeLackey

Senior Member
If you're in the Kentucky Derby, don't leave your prize horse in the stable. In other words, show off what best represents the band as a whole. Which song do you all feel comfortable with? Which song keeps the listener interested all the way through?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Thaard, just watch your playing, I can't believe they said no thanks to you! You can obviously play, you have some chops (from what I can tell), and your time is strong.
Exactly my thoughts. And yes, I've been listening to Thaard's offerings for a couple of years and can confirm he has loads of chops.

I find it all mystifying.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
I talked to one of the other drummers, who were one of the shredders. He didn't get in either, so I'm really baffled. I think there maybe were some incredible players there, or someone who knew exactly what the teachers were looking for.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Getting these spots in Norwegian universities can be quite tough. Sometimes there isn't more than one or two spots available. It's especially tough on guitar and drums, because the amount of applicants on thjose two instruments is so much higher than other instruments. If you play an unusual instrument, or an instrument the school needs you you will most lightly get in if you're any good. Later if you apply for a masters degree, things are usually different, though.

When I applied for my bachelor degree on guitar i was the only one of 75 applicants who got in. Was I that much better than the rest? I don't believe so. It's a combination of many different things. The only advice I can give is what worked for me. I picked really simple songs, songs that I have know since childhood, so I was super comforable with them, and then I did my own thing and truly gave my all like it was a truly an important show at a regular venue. If you can show that you truly own the piece and you can lead and inspire the band, then you create a musical experience worth noticing, and that's what it's all about.

Don't pick music for the sake of the jury or to impress. Play something you love and show that you mean it, that you have a message, something you need to share.
 
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Thaard

Platinum Member
Getting these spots in Norwegian universities can be quite, though. Sometimes there isn't more than one or two spots available. It's especially tough on guitar and drums, because the amount of applicants on thjose two instruments is so much higher than other instruments. If you play an unusual instrument, or an instrument the school needs you you will most lightly get in if you're any good. Later if you apply for a masters degree, things are usually different, though.

When I applied for my bachelor degree on guitar i was the only one of 75 applicants who got in. Was I that much better than the rest? I don't believe so. It's a combination of many different things. The only advice I can give is what worked for me. I picked really simple songs, songs that I have know since childhood, so I was super comforable with them, and then I did my own thing and truly gave my all like it was a truly an important show at a regular venue. If you can show that you truly own the piece and you can lead and inspire the band, then you create a musical experience worth noticing, and that's what it's all about.

Don't pick music for the sake of the jury or to impress. Play something you love and show that you mean it, that you have a message, something you need to share.
I've always liked jazz, so it's the music-genre closest to my heart. I also picked very "standard" jazz-tunes. A night in tunisia, So what, and cantaloupe island(more fusion'ish).
I had everything set up, written extra notes, so everyone in the band knew what was going to happen and so on. Everyone said they understood.

I felt we were communicating really good, until the bass-solo(the whole "forgot to tell the bassist to stop"-thing). I cued the ending, and everything went as according to plan.
I also tried different techniques that usually boosts your chance(and so that the judges remember you). Like shaking everyones hands, smiling, eye contact, presenting myself, playing brushes and sticks during the tune, pull out some licks and tricks(for example pitching the snare while pushing your elbow into the head and rolling the brushes around the snare).
I would've really liked some feedback, but none was given(to me or anyone else not getting in, though).
 
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