We spend thousands of hours practicing for that one big moment. You would hate for your performance to suffer because of something completely unrelated to music or your preparation. Here are some of my most important non-musical suggestions for how to put yourself in the best possible position to play well!
- Take care of your body
Plenty of people scoff at the idea that an audition is similar to training for the Olympics but I believe it is incredibly similar. We are asking our bodies to perform at insanely high levels. The last thing you would want is to play poorly because you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.
- Eat well but don’t change your diet
Along the same lines of taking care of your body, make sure you are eating good foods. Everyone’s body is different so I won’t try to tell you what you need for your body, but make sure it is good quality foods and you have eaten enough. Your body is going to need that fuel to help you rock out! Having said that though, don’t drastically change your diet a few days before the audition. Your body will react and wonder what the heck is going on? I would even bring food with me because I know the hotel would not have good options for me. I don’t eat a lot of carbs and ALL hotel breakfasts are mostly carbs. So, I would just bring food with me that I was used to and warm it up in a microwave.
- Don’t skimp on the hotel room
You have spent thousands of dollars on instruments, gear, lessons, and who knows what else. Penny pinching for a $75 room that is 8 miles away and has a crappy mattress just doesn’t make sense to me. Really? Right now is when you are going to try to save $75? Spend the $150 a night to sleep in a place you know will have a nice room, mattress, and will help you relax.
- Fly in the day before
Similar to not penny pinching on the hotel room. Don’t risk not being there in time by flying in on a 5:00 am flight. Your body will be tired (See #1) and you risk missing your time.
- Get to know your brain and what it needs to put yourself in a position to play well
Do you need to get amped up to focus and play well? Or do you need to stay calm and relaxed? If you need to get amped up, then don’t sit around all day. Be active and go for a walk or do a light workout. If you need to stay calm, then listen to relaxing music or read a book (that has nothing to do with music). If you find that you are worn out by the end of the day then make sure you pace yourself and find ways to rest.
- Wake up at the same time you will at the audition the week before
If you live on the West Coast and are flying to the East Coast, go ahead and make the time change a week early. You would rather be groggy for a few days the week before than the day of. Again, take care of your body.
- When traveling make sure all bags have wheels
Don’t carry anything. I mean anything! I don’t care how in shape you are, the airport takes it out of you and you want all your muscles to be in top form. If you have tons of gear to bring, make sure you have a cart or something you can wheel it around in so you aren’t carrying a 30 lbs bag across 2 terminals.
- Have warm-ups timed out
What is your plan if all of the sudden they say “Ok, you are playing in 15 minutes.” You better have a 15 minute warm up ready. Sure you probably want more time, but have a 10, 15, 20, and 30 minute warm up routine ready to go in case you have less time than you wish you did.
- Have soft hands
Studies have shown that in pressure situations your perception of how much your are gripping something (a stick, a bow, etc…) changes. What may feel to you like a 5 out of 10, may be more like a 7. Trust that your hands will hold on to the stick and relax. Know that what you are feeling is probably more tense than you think it is.
- Ask yourself positive questions
This is a huge one!!! This does 2 things. It keeps your brain focused on positive thoughts. Negative thoughts do not help at the audition. By asking a question, it also stimulates your brain to come up with a positive response, which in turn keeps you focused on what is important! Something like “What is the main musical element I am trying to convey to the committee?” is a very constructive, positive question.