Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Today I was going through all the scraps of paper that followed me home from Calgary, and came across this little thing. Apparently, it's a panelist's judging sheet from the audition - I believe the personnel manager handed it to me when I was searching for a scrap of paper to write someone's e-mail address down. Looking at this form kind of puts things into perspective for me. It's just a silly simple sheet of paper, but one penstroke there can sometimes change someone's fate!

This also reminds me of one of Dan Matsukawa's audition tips, slightly silly but surprisingly useful. He suggested that, before you play any excerpt, even your most difficult and hated one, you inwardly say to yourself, "Yes!" Put a big smile on your face, and act like it's your favorite thing ever.

Here's how he puts it:
Adjust your attitude.

From now on, you will be "excited" to play your nemesis or any excerpt that you may fear. At least try to convince yourself that every excerpt is your absolute favorite one to play.

At the audition, make it as though you are glad they are asking for that excerpt that gives you trouble, rather than cringe when they ask for it. You could even pump your fist discreetly to yourself and say, "I can't wait to play this for them and I am so glad they want to hear it!" instead of, "Uh-oh, here goes my nemesis!" This will have a positive effect on your playing and in turn a positive effect on those listening.

I'm beginning more and more to see how we as musicians also have to be great actors. We not only need to convince an audience, we often need to convince ourselves that we're bold, confident, forthright people, even when we might feel a little bit hamster-ish. MTT often brings up acting - he talks about how an actor would take any idea and take it to extremes, go over the top and then tone it down, whereas we musicians often have to be prodded and cajoled to do enough! Today in a masterclass, Hal Robinson had some similar comments, talking about how we need to play-act, take on a role if we really want to expand our range of characters. Sometimes we need to scream, tear our hair out, and howl at the moon, just to know what those emotions feel like - also, to tap into our own life experiences, and bring them out in our playing.

I'm wondering if I should take some acting lessons - maybe get a book out of the library about "method acting"? Hal would probably say, "Stop being so analytical, and start living!" And Dan Matsukawa would probably just say, "Yes!"


oceanskies79 said...

I like the section on this post on Dan Matsukawa's audition tips. I think the part on "Adjust your attitude" is a helpful tip.

E.C.D. said...

Acting like our most feared exerpts or pieces are the most exciting to play is a point that my own teacher/mentor and NSO associate concertmaster Elisabeth Adkins makes frequently. We have to embrace our fears-hence the inspiration for my own blog. Sometimes we just need to fake it (the attitude-not the notes or musicality!)...in certain situations- like trying to get along with certain personality types or conductors-it might feel like one's personal integrity gets compromised, but in others it can win you a job. Just as I'm getting back into the audition circuit, you're leaving it...Congratulations!!!