Benny Goodman's birthday yesterday. I will admit that the best group without a bass player ever was the Benny Goodman trio/quartet.
Roncito's unintuitive guide to auditions for musicians, based on decades of observations from both sides of the "Fourth Wall." Auditioner/panel. (Also applies to actors, dancers, etc.)
1. The audition is won or lost in the first 10-15 seconds of your performance, or can even be lost before (see #2. below) Prepare your first notes, or lines or steps carefully.
A. Have your cleanest, smoothest, most interesting thing to show in that first crucial phrase.
B. If, by doing this, you catch the listener's interest they will then tend to hear the good in your ensuing playing. Any ensuing mistakes or imperfections will be forgiven.
C. If you fail to catch the listener's interest in those precious seconds, they will tend not to hear any ensuing good playing, and will tend to only hear and amplify what they dislike about you, and every trivial mistake will be used to justify their first impression. They do this to pretend to themselves that things seem like they are going along faster in their internal clocks. Even though in actuality time remains constant. This is to alleviate boredom.
D. By way of explanation: This is based on human nature. (Which is probably mostly controlled by endorphins and other hormones.) The panelists simply don't want to listen to dozens of people playing the same thing, and they probably want to sit there for as short a time as possible. Most candidates will induce boredom, so anything of interest will alleviate that boredom. Something of great interest will make them start thinking and hoping that there could be a winner, and they will project themselves into the future where a winner has been chosen, the audition is over, and they don't have to be there anymore. Of course, in reality is they still have to wait out the time.
It's simple: Boredom = no endorphins. Potential winner = endorphins. Endorphins = good.
2. The audition begins from the moment you enter the room and walk to center. Do so with confidence. and pay attention to the following, any of which can lose you the gig before you play a note:
A. Don't fidget.
B. Tune quietly and minimally, better yet, tune before entering the room.
C. Don't rosin your bow, oil your valves, adjust the chair in the room, or whatever futz there is for your instrument.
D. To the panel, every second between your room entry and first note is an eternity of boredom. The fewer the better.
E. If you fail to get started within 30 seconds, chances are you have already lost because they will have tuned out listening for anything interesting. "No endorphins to be had from this candidate, who doesn't play, just prepares."
F. When ready to begin, don't 'prepare' for more than 3 seconds. You know what I mean.
G. Don't breathe audibly.
H. Continuing the explanation: As in #1, the panel is looking to get to the end of their long day. (I hesitate to say ordeal.) And these bring negative feelings towards you. Once a panelist has a negative feeling about you, they are projecting time forward towards the next candidate. You will be hard pressed to bring their attention back in time, as it were. That would denote more boredom.
I. Restated: Negative feelings about you (whether playing or composure,) are to be avoided at all costs.
3. No matter what you do, someone won't like it. I have seen people bored by ASTOUNDINGLY AMAZING playing (for whatever trivial reason-see above) Assume those folks are a minority. You don't need those outliers as long as you have the majority on your side.
4. Don't be nervous, unless you know how to channel that energy for good. You can only control your own performance, not any feelings the panel develops about it, so don't waste time fretting about what is completely out of your control. The following might sound like banal clichés, but use them psychologically to calm yourself:
A. Whatever is going to come out of your horn, is what is going to come out. You can't put the notes back in, so nervousness has NO positive connotation.
B. We all have a level of performance experience which is probably more extensive than we even realize. Even if you are relatively young, you have already performed through a large part of your childhood, high-school band concerts, college ensembles, gigs for little money we did for "experience." Use that experience in your audition.
5. Addendum, cause I forgot to mention: pay a lot of attention to the speed, intensity and depth of your vibrato. It makes a ton of difference, especially for string playing.
6. Also pay great attention to grand and minute changes and contrasts in dynamics, especially the pp and ppp range. Extra especially, pay attention to DEcrescendos. (anyone can do a crescendo.)
7. Good luck.