• Band and Orchestra Auditions, by Dr. Jerry Young


    Appendix I

    Military Organization Interview Summaries

    U.S. Air Force Band

    Instrumental

    A. Positions are advertised:

    • Inside the Air Force, International Musician, instrument-specific journals, university/college/conservatory educators. NOTE: A seperate "Blue Suit" audition is held for qualified Air Force personnel prior to the advertisement of a civilian audition.


    B. Tapes and resumes:


    • Solo representing best playing, band excerpts provided by the USAF Band. Qualified Air Force personnel do not need to submit a tape. Resume should summarize musical experience and background and include date of birth.


    C. Audition routine


    • sign-in
    • large warm-up area
    • private warm-up area shortly before audition
    • audition: preliminary audition is behind a screen, finals are not behind the screen.
    • typically, top three finishers are interviewed (general interview and determination of suitability for White House security clearance.)
    • ceremonial band finalists also demonstrate marching ability (with and without playing)


    D. Live Audition Repertoire


    • Consists of prepared repertoire sent to candidates in advance (no solo performance) and sight reading, as well as major and all forms of minor scales. Ceremonial Brass candidates must also memorize a portion of a march (provided in advance of the audition).


    E. Audition adjudication


    • 6 member audition committee: concert band superintendent; brass/perc. or ww superintendent; gaining section principal; 2 other members of the gaining section; 1 member from other sections of the band. (NOTE: appropriate adjustments take place for "one deep," i.e. harp, etc., sections.)
    • Committee uses a scoring worksheet. Candidates are rated 1-5 on areas such as tone quality, intonation, articulation, technique, rhythmic accuracy, time sense/tempo, range, musicality, dynamics, scales. String players are also rated on bow technique. Finalists auditioning for positions in the Ceremonial Brass are also rated on marching ability and military bearing.
    • NO DISCUSSION is allowed in real-time among committee members during the audition process to insure fully independent opinions of each committee member throughout the process.
    • Each candidate is rated by each adjudicator as either "qualified" or "unqualified" immediately upon the conclusion of each individual audition.
    • The committee is joined by the Commander of the Band for the final round.


    F. Post-audition information
    After the audition generally the top three finalists are interviewed (see C.e. above) in case the audition winner might not be able to accept the position or might be disqualfied for some reason. The job is offered to the winner by the Commander and Conductor of the USAF Band. If the primary winner is unable to accept the position, the position is offered to the first runner-up when appropriate. The winner of the position must then report to his/her local recruiter and enlist in the Air Force after which they report for recruit training. Upon completion of recruit training, they join the Band.

    G. General comments

    • The procedures described here are essentially a summary of extremely detailed USAF Band document (USAF Band OI 36-1) that outlines procedures for all internal and external auditions.
    • In the screened audition round(s), candidates may be asked to remove shoes before entering the audition room in order to reduce incidence of unintended gender bias.
    • A comment about tapes: remember that some auditors may not play your instrument. Choose repertoire that will be appealing/interesting to someone who might not be familiar with the latest contemporary repertoire for your instrument.


    Tubists: Tuba positions in the U.S. Air Force Band require proficiency on contrabass tuba first and foremost. You should plan to audition accordingly. If your best representation as a soloist is on bass tuba, you may wish to play your taped solo on bass tuba, however, plan to audition in Washington, D.C. on contrabass tuba.

    Vocal

    A. Positions are advertised:

    • Inside the Air Force, ACDA, other vocal journals, university/college/conservatory educators.


    B. Tapes and resumes


    • Resume should include date of birth and summarize musical background and experience. The tape should include an opera aria or art song in a foreign language, a pop selection, and a Broadway or jazz selection. Candidates should try to demonstrate good fundamentals of singing and (as much as is possible) the characteristic color of the voice. The number of candidates invited to any given audition is flexible and dependent upon qualifications and experience of applicants.


    C. Audition routine


    • sign in
    • music theory test (basic)
    • solo presentation (prepared material of candidate's choice per tape instructions)
    • quartet singing (prepared material provided in advance - both traditional and pop styles)
    • sight reading (very straight-forward material)
    • (total audition time is about twenty minutes)


    D. Audition adjudication


    • Theory examinations are objective material and are graded accordingly.
    • Each candidate is rated on adjudication forms on the areas described in audition routine by a subcommittee of the Singing Sergeants. The entire ensemble listens to the audition.
    • A short discussion is held after each candidate.


    E. Post audition information


    • Finalists are interviewed. Candidates must be able to obtain White House security clearance, meet Air Force regulations for weight, etc. NOTE: Candidates should have no tattoos.
    • A recommendation is made to the Commander of the U.S. Air Force Band regarding the committee's decision. If the Commander concurs with the recommendation, the job is then offered by the Commander.
    • The winner of the position reports to his/her local recruiter and enlists in the Air Force after which they report for recruit training. Upon completion of recruit training, they join the Singing Sergeants.


    F. General comments


    • In quartet singing, remember that your job is to blend with a group - this is not a continuance of your solo singing audition.
    • In sight singing, your goal is to show your ability to be able to "think on your feet." Perfection isn't expected, but continuity and recovery is. Being able to see/hear/sing intervals accurately is paramount to success.
    • OVERALL NOTE: Everyone in the U.S. Air Force Band (all units) is assigned collateral duty. Performance in collateral duty is very much tied to promotion.

    U.S. Army Band

    Instrumental

    A. Positions are advertised: in the International Musician and to instrumental organizations appropriate to the vacancy. The Army generally does NOT advertise to music schools. NOTE: most openings in The U.S. Army Band are into the Ceremonial Band, not the Concert Band. Promotions are usually made from the Ceremonial Band to the Concert Band.

    B. Tapes: should be a reasonably difficult solo or solos played extremely well. Musicality is what impresses them the most, although the performance should certainly be as flaw-free as is possible. Taste in repertoire seems to be the most permissive of all the bands - any genre or style is acceptable as long as it is played well. Recommended to try to demonstrate lyrical and technical abilities. NO BAND EXCERPTS! Be sure to use the accompaniment if it's part of the solo. An accompaniment played below standard is better than no accompaniment at all (in most cases). DO NOT "excerpt" solo performances - leaves doubts. Who listens to tapes varies from section to section. Only the section leader might listen, or several members of the section might listen. Sometimes the concert band and ceremonial band section leaders will listen along with some others. BE SURE THE FIRST TEN BARS ARE DYNAMITE! Around eight semi-finalists are selected from the tape round. The Army pays all expenses for those individuals to come to Washington, D.C. for the audition (the only branch that does this).

    The Army requires a full-length photo and resume be included with the tape. A very complete, multi-page (if needed) resume is encouraged. Who are you? While musical experiences are most important, they want to know if you are a well-rounded person. Have you been involved in your community? Do you have interests outside music?

    C. Audition routine

    • arrive at Fort Meyer and sign in.
    • orientation session describing the job in very "black and white" terms.
    • preliminary round: may or may not be behind a screen. If there is a possibility that there would be even the least appearance of race or gender bias, the screen will probably be used.
    • final round: usually involves two or three players and is more of the same. May or may not be screened depending on circumstances.
    • finalists qualified to enter the Band are interviewed following the finals round. The interview is a general personal interview, but also includes questions relative to one's ability to obtain White House security clearance and general suitability to the military.
    • the winner of the audition is offered the position by the Commander of the Band.


    D. Live Audition Repertoire


    • Includes a solo of the candidate's choice - the entire work will probably not be heard - and prepared excerpts sent to the candidate in advance. The excerpts will include band music, brass quintet music, etudes, etc. Sight reading will be taken from the standard repertoire and from "stock" U.S. Army Band arrangements or original compositions. The candidate should be familiar with all styles of standard band playing (especially marches), but also pop/jazz styles.


    E. Audition adjudication


    • Committee membership is inconsistent from audition to audition. Usually the preliminary round committee will include the auditions officer, the section leader where the vacancy occurs, and E-8 and E-9 (Senior Master Sergeants and Sergeant Majors) personnel from the section. The finals round will add the Officer-in-Charge of the ensemble where the vacancy occurs and possibly other individuals by invitation. Others may listen.
    • No forms or other objective instruments are used in adjudication. All the standard criteria are used in adjudication (tone, rhythm, time, overall musicianship, etc.), and candidates are discussed as/after they play.
    • Sight reading is considered to be very equal in weight to prepared material. Remember not to stop in sight reading - "you will be set up to fail." Composure in that situation is critical. Can you keep going/fake/maintain composure?
    • Personal appearance (neatness, presentation) is a factor in the audition and interview.


    F. Post audition information
    Everyone finds out who the winner is on the day of the audition - or if no winner has been selected. Non-winners should plan to remain after the audition to ask questions about their performance and to receive advice about improvement looking towards the next audition. The winner will report to his/her local recruiter to enlist in the Army and will undergo recruit training prior to reporting to Fort Meyer for duty.

    G. General comments

    • For tuba players, the Army is generally looking for contrabass tuba players. It is permissible to play a bass tuba for the solo performance, however, one should bear in mind the fact that the entire solo may not be heard. There's nothing wrong with preparing a solo on contrabass tuba and bringing only one instrument to Washington. All sight reading WILL be done on contrabass tuba, and some of the other prepared material WILL be required performance on contrabass tuba. Size of instrument is less relevant than how you play it. Recent winners played PT-6, Mirafone 186, Rudi Meinl 3/4, Hirsbrunner 4/4.
    • Check with your recruiter to be sure that you meet the physical/medical requirements for service in the Army.


    Vocal

    A.Positions are advertised: in the International Musician and to choral organizations appropriate to the vacancy. The Army generally does NOT advertise to music schools.

    B.Tapes: For the Army Chorale, pop/jazz/show style selection is all that is required. For the Soldier's Chorus, something in a foreign language (aria or art song) and a pop or Broadway style song. NOTE: very, very few tapes are received. Candidates are usually interviewed one at a time (literally - only one candidate would be interviewed on any given day for either group).

    C.Audition routine

    • VERY informal!!!! (For obvious reasons) no screen is used for either organization.
    • For the Chorale, the candidate sings a solo and sings with the group. For the Chorus, the candidate sings with the Chorus (as a member) first, then by themselves.
    • For the Chorale, sight-reading ability is not important - all performances are well- prepared routines. Sight reading for the Chorus is done in a quartet format and generally includes (among other things) something in a foreign language.
    • candidates qualified to be members are interviewed following the finals round. The interview is a general personal interview, but also includes questions relative to one's ability to obtain White House security clearance and general suitability to the military. If a candidate wins a position, they usually are so informed on the day of the audition.
    • the winner of the audition is offered the position by the Commander of the Army Band.


    D.Audition adjudication


    • For the Chorale, the entire group is the audition committee, including the Officer in Charge. For the Chorus, the section leaders, group leaders, and Officer in Charge are the official committee, however, anyone in the Chorus can listen to the full audition. Discussion is ongoing.
    • For the Chorale, the committee is looking for the ability to entertain and move as well as the ability to sing well - the candidate will be asked to use a "prop" microphone in the audition. For the Chorus, it is important for the candidate to demonstrate flexibility ("can you sing this with less vibrato?," etc.). In sight reading (for the Chorus), "mistakes are not fatal." Second chances are there. Expect things like the Beebel Ave Maria.
    • For either organization, the candidate's attitude should be confident, but not obnoxious. First impressions are critical for these auditions, and everything one does affects perception of the committee. The audition is not about "me" (the auditionee), but about the contribution that the candidate can make to the organization.


    E. Post audition information


    • The person selected for the position will be informed and will then report to his/her local recruiter to enlist in the Army and will undergo recruit training prior to reporting to Fort Meyer for duty.


    F. General comments


    • The audition atmosphere for these organization is very cordial. They want candidates to be as comfortable as possible.
    • Generally "older" individuals are most successful because of issues relating to vocal maturity. (College graduates or older).
    • Note that all auditions for the Chorale and Chorus are videotaped.

    U.S. Marine Band

    Instrumental
    A. Positions are advertised: to Marine fleet bands, in the International Musician and in mass mailing fliers. Also on the Marine Band web site.

    B. Tapes: are not required for this organization. Tape reviews are offered if potential candidates so desire (if one would like opinions regarding practicality/potential for a successful audition prior to investing time and money in making the trip to Washington, D.C.). Essentially, ANYONE may audition for membership in the U.S. Marine Band.

    C. Audition routine

    • arrive at the Marine Barracks and sign in between 7:30 and 11:30 a.m. (encouraged to arrive by 9:00 a.m.)
    • group warm-up area in a large room.
    • preliminary round is screened and includes prepared material and sight reading. (After every five candidates a brief discussion takes place and those five candidates are immediately notified of their status as a finalist or non-finalist.)
    • final round is also screened and includes further performance of prepared material and further sight reading.
    • all finalists are interviewed prior to their finals performance to determine suitability for the organization and ability to obtain White House security clearance.
    • winner is offered the position by the Commander of the U.S. Marine Band.


    D. Live Audition Repertoire


    • All live audition repertoire is provided to candidates by mail in advance of the audition. The required solo selection is included with that material.


    E. Audition adjudication


    • The audition committee consists of the principal of the section where the vacancy occurs plus one other member of the section, the section commander (i.e. woodwind, upper brass, lower brass, percussion, etc.), and the assistant director of the Band. A player from the section where the vacancy occurs is the proctor. Anyone else from the band may listen.
    • Discussion during the audition is minimal. Some sections use forms to facilitate comments, however, there is no official numerical grading.
    • In the final round, the Commander of the Band and all principal players in the band are added to the preliminary round committee. Also, everyone is aware of who the finalists are in terms of "paper aquaintance." The finals committee does NOT know the identity of individuals as/when they are performing. Winner determination is made by the full committee. F. Post audition information

    Finalists who do not win the position are encouraged to get comments from the committee at the end of the day. (Most do not take advantage of this opportunity.) The audition winner enlists in the Marine Corps at his/her local recruiting office and then reports directly to the Marine Barracks for duty. There is no recruit training for members of the U.S. Marine Band (as distinct from the Marine field bands - members of those organizations do undergo recruit training).

    G. General comments
    Tubists are discouraged from bringing small tubas. The job is to play contrabass tuba, and that's what committees prefer to hear. ALL sight reading will be on contrabass tuba, and prepared material is provided with contrabass tuba in mind.

    In sight reading, correct time, style, overall musicianship is most important - everyone misses notes. Keep going, no matter what. Music that is almost unplayable will be part of the finals - what you do with that situation is what is being observed.

    Try not to be in the first two groups (the first five to ten players). If you don't win, by all means try again!!

    Note that Fackeltanz is often on euphonium finals - also known as "the widow maker." Be prepared.

    Auditions usually take place in the spring in order to accomodate college schedules where possible.

    Superior musicianship is the bottom line - not who you studied with or where you went to school.

    Fleet musicians have no advantage in auditions and they are represented in the membership of the band.

    U.S. Navy Band

    Instrumental
    A. Positions are advertised: through the U.S. Navy recruiting command, "awareness" advertising.

    Fliers/mass mailings are sent to members of instrument organizations where vacancies occur. Candidates should always call the Auditions Coordinator at the U.S. Navy Band for accurate details. Prior Navy service and civilian auditions take place as one audition - best player wins.

    B. Tapes: Tapes are not required of auditionees. Anyone may come to the Navy Yard to audition, however, tapes are not discouraged. Tapes will be reviewed by members of the Band, and candidates who are perceived as not being qualified via their taped performance can be so advised, thus potentially saving the money/time of a trip to Washington. If you send a tape, begin with something like a Rochut etude or a standard solo. Do not send a recording of a band performance. The tape should be of reasonable audio quality. Demonstrate good fundamental musical skills and play expressively. The tapes ARE listened to and comments are provided.

    C. Audition routine

    • All auditionees sign in and are assigned a number.
    • The warm-up area is a large room.
    • Auditionees are taken to a private room ten to fifteen minutes before the audition.
    • The first round of the audition is generally played behind a screen.
    • The final round usually consists of five candidates who play on stage (no screen).
    • Two or three finalists are interviewed to determine qualification for service (White House clearance, physical qualification, etc.)
    • The Commander of the U.S. Navy Band offers the position to the winner.


    D. Live Audition Repertoire


    • Prepared solo (show off best qualities of playing, should represent lyrical and technical playing.)
    • Prepared excerpts (provided in advance)
    • Sightreading (be able to differentiate between 2/4 and 6/8 marches, be able to read "reasonable" music, euphonium players be prepared to read treble clef material.)


    E. Audition adjudication


    • Committee consists of the "Lead Chief" for the Band, "Dept. Chief in Charge" (i.e. upper brass, lower brass, woodwind, percussion, etc.), Drum Major, and three people from the section designated by the section leader of the section where the vacancy occurs. Any member of the band can be present and can provide input to the audition committee when appropriate. Three members of the committee are designated as "official writers."
    • In the first round ability to "do the job" is determined. Each committee member makes notes and discussion of each audition among committee members is permitted.
    • Same procedure is used (with no screen) during the finals round.
    • Officers generally do not listen to auditions and generally accept the recommendation of the enlisted personnel audition committee in hiring an audition winner.
    • Personal appearance is important!
    • Post audition information


    Two or three top finalists are interviewed upon completion of the audition to determine eligibility for service (White House security clearance, etc.). Although the winner is offered the job, in the event that that person is unable to pass security and/or physical examinations, the Navy wants to be able to immediately offer the position to the next finisher. All finalists should plan to remain after the finals round. Members of the committee are willing to discuss individual performances on the audition and offer suggestions for improvement for future auditions. The audition winner reports to his/her local Naval recruiter to enlist in the Navy. Upon completion of recruit training, they report directly to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

    G. General comments
    Navy personnel (on the whole) seem not to be very interested in hearing non-traditional works either on tape or in live auditions. It would seem advisable to plan to present prepared music that exhibits the kind of skills demanded in the music the band tends to play - which is largely melodic in nature.
    Tubists should plan to audition on contrabass tuba primarily. One might choose to do a solo on bass tuba if his/her best possible soloistic playing is in that medium, however, the remainder of the audition WILL take place on contrabass tuba.
    Sightreading will ultimately be virtually unplayable. Be mentally prepared for this eventuality. The purpose is to see the candidate's reaction. Can you keep going? Can you "fake?"

    Sometimes no one is qualified and a hire is not made. Every effort is made to avoid this circumstance, however, the standard for membership in the band will be enforced.

    Vocal

    A. Positions are advertised: to the Navy fleet organizations, ACDA Choral Journal, Opera News, university vocal/choral music depts.

    B. Tapes: Are required and are screened. Candidates are invited for audition. The tape should include an art song in a foreign language and something of a pop/broadway nature. The recording should be recent! The candidate should be attempting to make as a good a representation as possible of the voice quality and color. Good intonation and accuracy are important.

    C. Audition routine

    • Auditionees arrive and are assigned a number.
    • Preliminary round is screened and consists of two prepared pieces (one classical and one light). The candidate must provide the music for the audition in advance (for accompanist preparation). All sight reading takes place in the preliminary round.
    • Final round is not screened. Candidates perform solo selections again (stage presence important here). No sight reading in the final round. Candidate performs in a quartet with members of the Sea Chanters - music is provided in advance of the audition and usually consists of music like "Dark Eyed Sailor," "Hodie Christus," "When I Fall in Love," etc.
    • Finalists are interviewed for suitability for military service, ability to achieve White House security clearance, etc.
    • The winner is offered the position by the Commander of the U.S. Navy Band.


    D. Live Audition Repertoire
    Per comments above, the candidate chooses the solo repertoire he/she will perform and must provide music to the Sea Chanters before arrival at the Navy Yard so that the accompanist will be prepared. Additionally, quartet music will be provided to invited auditionees in advance of travel to Washington, D.C. Sight reading is representative of musical demands fulfilled by the Sea Chanters.

    E. Audition adjudication

    • The entire chorus listens to auditionees and have input, however only three members of the group are "official writers."
    • Discussion takes place after each auditionee in both rounds.
    • In addition to good fundamental musical and vocal skills, adjudicators are seeking an air of confidence and pleasant facial expression/communication from candidates. The candidate should do his/her best to portray the music where practical and possible.
    • Officers generally do not listen to auditions and generally accept the recommendation of the Sea Chanters in hiring an audition winner.
    • Post audition information


    Two or three top finalists are interviewed upon completion of the audition to determine eligibility for service (White House security clearance, etc.). Although the winner is offered the job, in the event that that person is unable to pass security and/or physical examinations, the Navy wants to be able to immediately offer the position to the next finisher. The audition winner reports to his/her local Naval recruiter to enlist in the Navy. Upon completion of recruit training, they report directly to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The Sea Chanters make a point to provide a lot of support for new members while they are undergoing recruit training.

    G. General comments
    Auditions are virtually always in search of a very specific voice type, i.e. if the advertisement is for a bass voice, this is exactly what is desired - not a baritone/bass. A very specific voice quality is usually envisioned by the group as well.

    This is one of the few places that one can have a regularly paid singing career with regular performing. A fine way to be able to work in the music profession and have a good family life.
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