5 Steps to Enjoyable, Successful Auditions

It may begin with the letter or email notifying you of your long-awaited audition date and time.  Your heart starts to pound, your throat gets tight, and suddenly your mouth feels like the Sahara Desert!   It may not hit you that fast.  It may wait to start on the night before the audition when you’re lying in bed.  You have a hard time sleeping.  Your mind begins to race and to play through every possible scenario for the next day’s audition.  Or for you it may start backstage as you are waiting to walk out.  Your hands start to shake, you start to break out into a cold sweat, and you begin to wonder why you ever wanted to do this in the first place.

Regardless of when it starts or what your particular response is, it is natural to feel some kind of jitters before an audition.   It is a sign that you care about what you do and the outcome of the audition.   Let’s talk about how you can deal with the jitters or the music performance anxiety you experience and how you can keep your focus on what will help you prepare and perform an enjoyable, successful audition!

Hey, you need to know that it’s ok to get the jitters or to feel nervous before an audition.  It is not ok to let those jitters, fearful thoughts, and physical effects of these thoughts escalate and cause you to leave your best playing or singing in the practice room.  This begs the question:  what is the difference between how you perform in the practice room and how you perform in auditions?   You haven’t changed, your talent hasn’t changed, the selections you’ve chosen probably haven’t changed.  What has?  Your attitude, that’s what.  Suddenly, with auditions the stakes have changed.  A lot is on the line at an audition.  Your focus has changed.  It has switched out of the present and into the future and to the need or expectation to nail this audition or win that competition.  This will not end well.  You get tight, you feel tremendous pressure, and you will probably start playing or singing to avoid messing up instead of effortlessly like you were just doing in the practice room.

The game-changer, or in this case, the audition-changer is your preparation and your attitude.  The following are five ways you can start enjoying auditions and turn music performance anxiety (MPA) into music performance excitement (MPE)!

Prepare Well!

Nothing can take the place of excellent preparation.  Make sure you know the pieces you are performing as well as you possibly can.   Set a deadline for learning all the notes and rhythms, the style, the phrasing, and memorization.  This should be at least two or three weeks to a month before the audition.

Know as much about the performing environment as possible before you step out onto the stage:   Is it a hall, a classroom, or in a church?  Get a sense of the size and space of the venue.  Decide in advance what you will be wearing and practice in this attire, so you know how the clothing feels—no surprises.  Two weeks before the audition, start to taper off your practice in favor of performing.   Mentally rehearse in real time.  Really use your imagination:   imagine the hall and the stage you will be performing on.   See the panel.  Imagine how it feels, sounds, and looks to perform the way you want.

Practice Performing!

Most people take for granted that practice will automatically transfer to the stage, but they don’t actually practice performing!   The skills needed to perform well—evaluating, judging, stopping and starting and fixing—are VERY DIFFERENT than the skills needed to practice well—trusting, responding instinctively, and accepting your performances as you go.

In the weeks leading up to the audition, perform a mock audition even if just for one person or your smart phone at least once every day. Practice your stage presence, walking on and offstage, announcing yourself and your selections, cueing, performing straight through without stopping, talking, or evaluating.  If you make a mistake, just keep going!

Embrace those butterflies!

Don’t let those jitters surprise you.  Know that you will probably feel those tingles prior to performance.   Is it anxiety or excitement?  You decide.  I suggest you reframe your mindset from feeling nervous into feeling EXCITED!   Feeling excitement means that you care about your performance and that you are ready to perform!  The trick is how you use the energy you are now calling excitement.   In the weeks leading up to your audition, if you feel a momentary doubt or a fearful thought comes to mind, respond by singing if you are a singer or getting your instrument and playing those doubts and fears away.  You could also respond by reframing that pesky doubt or fear by immediately mentally rehearsing a section or one of the pieces to calm you and remind yourself that you are ready!

Devise a pre-performance routine that will keep you focused on what matters!

Especially if your tendency is to get into your head and think scary thoughts, you will want a plan to keep you feeling confident and focused.  Find a way to calm yourself by using your breath.   Breathe in your nose and out your mouth.  Learn to find what keeps you calm.  Is it conversing with others backstage or blocking everyone and everything out as you focus on the upcoming audition?   This may be a great time to remind yourself of the reasons you have to strongly believe in yourself and your abilities—your Confidence Resume.  Haven’t heard of a Confidence Resume?  Refer to a the previous post, Improving Self-Confidence, to learn more.

TRUST what you’ve practiced and prepared!

Declare your practice COMPLETE!  This means letting go of conscious control over accuracy—no more analyzing or correcting yourself.  Accept your performance for what it is today—free from expectations and free from evaluation and judgment of right and wrong.

Trust takes a decision first, and then practice.  Practice shifting from “practice mode” to “performance mode” in every practice session.  You can do this by practicing performing every day.  You will want to find ways to simulate the atmosphere and environment of the upcoming audition or performance.

Remember why you love what you’re doing and have fun pursuing your goals and dreams!

Tell me about the ways you handle the preparation and stress associated with auditions.  I’d love to hear from you!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to my site by checking out the free mp3:   5 Mental Strategies for Peak Performance in Auditions, Competitions, and Concerts.  You will receive a monthly newsletter and tips to keep you performing at peak levels.

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  1. I have read these 5 strategies. in my opinion, They were really perfect.Regarding to the third strategy, I think both exitment and anxiety make me to be nervous and stressful at the time of performance.I used these 5 strategies before, But i was not succeeded in performance.I should practice more on these topics and strategies.

    • Dr. Diana Allan says:

      Simin, thanks so much for your comment. By ‘embracing your butterflies,’ you are assuring yourself that there is nothing wrong. It is about recognizing the pre-performance feelings you experience as indicators that you are READY to perform. You will want to use the excitement/anxiety/butterflies feeling to fuel your best performance! Keep me posted!

  2. Wish I would’ve read this BEFORE the audition I just bombed. Thank you so much! I will definitely use this moving forward.

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