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Old 09-11-2015, 08:17 PM
Rex068 Rex068 is offline
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Default Audition Anxiety

I'm in my second year of my university's jazz studies program. Every year at the start of school there are jazz ensemble auditions (big bands, vocal jazz etc) for the students to partake in. Basically, how it works for the drummers is that they go through a single audition, and then the faculty decides which jazz ensemble to put them in based on feel, ability to sight-read, etc.

In my first year I did it, I failed which is completely understandable, I didn't have much experience outside of my high-school jazz band and was never taught much about proper big band drumming.

But after that I worked my butt off by staying in practice rooms late at night, gigging as much as possible, buying several books on big band/sightreading, working with my private instructor particularly on big band drumming, went to see a lot of live jazz and pubs/restaurants where they host jam sessions and I also joined a community big band and wind ensemble outside of school. However, despite all that I once again failed to make it into any ensembles this year.

After feeling completely awful, I realized that maybe the biggest problem was actually my mindset. The night before the audition I had a lot of trouble sleeping because I was so anxious. Went I got to the audition, I was freaking out of my mind. I was tense, rigid and scared to mess up and thought to myself "if I don't make this, all my hard work amounts to nothing" which was fatal because it caused my playing to be extremely sloppy. I even recognized two of the charts I was given to read from a play along book that I owned. After my audition, I went back into a practice room, got that same book out, and played those charts way better than in the audition.

I'm not asking for anything sugar-coated. I just want to know how you guys calm your nerves before an audition... obviously it doesn't have to be big band related. I know it's probably irrational to get this nervous so I'm asking for advice to stay relaxed and confident before my nerves compromise my third attempt next year.
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:25 PM
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Midnite Zephyr Midnite Zephyr is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

Meditation and positive affirmations will help quell the negative anxiety.
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:31 PM
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Hollywood Jim Hollywood Jim is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

The only way I can see to help you is;
a few days before the audition I can call you and offer you a job as the permanent drummer for the touring Buddy Rich Band.
Then you won't care if you fail the audition.

"To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable." - Beethoven
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:42 PM
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geezer geezer is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

wee dram of whiskey always does the trick for me, seriously....
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:48 PM
tcspears tcspears is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

Having gone through the same thing in music school, I can definitely relate. It's not like playing a gig, I can play in front of all kinds of crowds and not think twice about it, but at school I'd be sweating bullets!

It's been a few years for me, but the teachers were very intimidating and assertive when I went, and I'm pretty sure they could smell fear lol

What did it for me was getting so busy with school and gigs, that I didn't really have time to worry about the audition, and when I got there I just treated it like any other gig. I wish I had an easy answer, but I think you're on the right track; it's all about being confident and comfortable...
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:50 PM
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Bigdumbdrums Bigdumbdrums is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

You just have to trust yourself and in your abilities. My most recent audition was for a rock cover band back in March. It's a band I've seen live and have loved for years so for me, this was my jazz ensemble. I was nervous but I was prepared (playing for almost 4 decades will do that).

There was another drummer at the audition which happened to be during a live gig (yes we auditioned live in front of an audience). We both had 3 songs to play. One of my songs I had never played before but had learned it (Temple by Kings of Leon). I had a beer before going on which helped.

When it was my turn to play I simply took a couple of deep breaths and put all my trust in my own abilities.

I got the phone call on my way home from the audition at 2am. They didn't wait to ask me to join them.

Keep practicing. Keep being prepared. It will pay off. Play as if there will always be more auditions because there will.
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:52 PM
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double_G double_G is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

been there. just remember this pressure cooker audition experience will pay off BIG TIME after college. so have fun if you can. it sounds like you are doing everything right. just be 100% passionate.

so that means we are getting into performance psychology and this means Flow. my advice is to continue to practice your balls off and listen as much as possible...but when it comes time to audition or gig, you need to work on completely shutting off all logical thought & getting into the cyclical Flow mind-state (only intuition via music). stop thinking, just get completely absorbed to what you are doing / the music.

start w/ Hal Galper. genius. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_7DgCrziI8

RE Audition Anxiety...Hal's piece here on "stagefright & relaxation" is HUGE: http://www.halgalper.com/articles/st...nd-relaxation/

"...it's called flow. Our ability to control things and analyze things is in direct opposition to a mantra that I have: Thought is the enemy of flow. People ask me, “What do you think about when you’re playing?” The answer is basically nothing. Thought happens in a completely different way out of flow. It’s contemplative and analytical and problem solving. In flow, it’s completely different. It’s like a real-time program running in the background that doesn't interfere with what’s going on. The ability to adapt in a given moment is beyond the scope of another type of focused thought process.” -- Vinnie Colaiuta (from Modern Drummer, Jan 2012)
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:54 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

People have various ways of psyching themselves up or out of a performance. Try a bunch of things and see what works for you. As long as you don't go all "Boogie Nights - Mirror Scene", there's really nothing abnormal about having a pre-performance mental-affirmation ritual.
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:55 PM
Captain Bash Captain Bash is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

Never done big band but have done my share of auditions. To succeed at any audition you need to fulfil just a few points..... But you MUST nail these.

1) Be able to play the musical style well, absolutely no fluffs, don't overplay, but if there are moments to shine then really shine and then shut-up.

2) You need to be confident both in your ability and exude the view that you are capable of handling improv. or changes in set/style - but don't try to be everything.

3) Listen to what everyone in the band says and ask questions to clarify any particular stylistic subtleties, often charts or studio recordings can be very open to interpretation.

Good luck
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Old 09-11-2015, 11:03 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

It's not about dealing with the anxiety, it's about not getting the anxiety in the first place. Go to the root of the problem, don't waste time on a work-around that will just be another thing to think about. More ways to fail. This needs to be overcome completely, removed from your personality.

If you fail, it was supposed to be that way, so don't worry about it. It's music, no one is getting hurt.

Let me guess you're a white guy right? White guys are too uptight. Lighten up, music is supposed to be pleasurable, audition or not. Be the ball Danny.

FWIW, when I play drums, I try to quiet my mind. Conscious thoughts get in the way, and will sabotage. It's your ego that's hamstringing you. You say to yourself that you don't want to fail. The word fail is in the sentence, so you're doomed. Losing mindset. Change the tape in your head to the one where you're the baddest dude your side of the Mississippi and try it like that. The word fail isn't even included in that guys vocabulary. But don't talk to yourself. Know you're badass and shut up and listen. Pretend if you have to. Act. You can do this. Get the hell out of your own way, no one can move him but you. Just eliminate your inner chatter and instead, to get out of your own head, ask someone about themselves and just listen. Practice shutting up and listening. Auditions are a listening exercise. Try it like that.
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Old 09-12-2015, 08:49 PM
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No Way Jose No Way Jose is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

The only way that I know of to reduce anxiety is to audition a lot.
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:19 AM
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Duck Tape Duck Tape is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

It sounds to me like you felt you were entitled to get in because you practiced a lot, but there's more to it than that. The drummers that got through have probably been practicing and preparing much longer than you have, they probably went to a teacher in their primary age and listened to and practiced everything they were told. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link so if your live/audition playing is weak then it doesn't matter how good you sound at home in your bedroom.

Be sad/angry but let that empower you to get better. Think medium-long term as in 3-5 years of solid practice and with some natural ability you should start to catch up.
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:42 AM
vxla vxla is offline
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Default Re: Audition Anxiety

Check out Rob Knopper's work on audition preparation:

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