Auditions – Friend or Foe?

Today I sat in on some auditions for the Brookline Symphony Orchestra.  As Principal 2nd Violin of the Brookline Symphony, I was asked to be part of the audition committee for auditioning violinists.

Auditions have never been my strong suit.  I could always perform infront of hundreds of people without blinking an eyelash, but as soon as I feel like I’m being directly judged for my playing ability, I immediately get short of breath and lose all of the fine motor skills required for mastery of the instrument.  Maybe this is because when I’m performing, I feel that I am sharing my music with the world – and usually, the audience is composed of ordinary people who have not gone through rigorous musical training.  On the other side of the spectrum, in an audition, I am usually in front of others who have made music their lives – and they are as aware of the tiny nuances necessary for great music making as I.  This causes me to be so overly focused on my technique, that I  lose my natural  rapport with the violin and I am no longer at one with the instrument.

Sometimes I wonder what the point of auditions are – when they can make the greatest musicians clam up and perform to 30% of their ability.  After all, aren’t musicians known for their great level of sensitivity?  And if this is so, it seems that the more sensitive the musician, the more likely that she will be greatly affected by nerves in situations where she is being judged.

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