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Thread: Preparing for an audition on limited time - save me!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Richmond, KY
    Posts
    24

    Preparing for an audition on limited time - save me!

    Hello,

    I'm a euphonium performance and music education double major, and my college audition is on the 25th. This audition determines my seating in most of the ensembles I'll be performing in, and while the order is fluid, it's relatively important to me that I do well on this audition.

    However, I've been working full-time at my job, helping out with a local marching band, and have been trying to find a way to get my schooling paid for. Not a lot of time to be spent practicing - and it's showing in my audition music. Sure, I can get through it, but there are several sections that just need work, and I feel that I don't have the time to dedicate to them. Even on days where I have the time, I'm usually so drained that I can barely bring myself to pick up the instrument - today, I worked 7:30 AM to 9:30 PM. Nice pay, but it's truly all I can do to buzz a little and play a few long tones.

    What're some practice methods to get the most out of the time I have, and what exercises can I do to help maintain my chops during spells where I have little time to practice and play? I've been working on my music measure-by-measure - taking it slow, deconstructing it, and slowly adding it back together. It works, but is tedious, and I truly worry there's no way I'm going to get all my audition music scanned through in time for my audition. I've also been doing quarter tempo until I can play it 5 times in a row correctly, then half tempo, and then 3/4 tempo, and then full tempo. That helps with certain fingering/slurring issues, but again, takes quite a bit of time. I tend to buzz quite a bit in general - on my 30 minute commute to work, I buzz in the car, usually just to whatever I'm listening to. If I'm laying around watching TV after work, I might buzz a bit every 10-15 minutes to keep myself engaged in the show. But my time on the horn is limited - especially on days like today, where even if I have the energy to practice before or after work, there are people sleeping basically every chance I get.

    I know there's no magical tricks and that it's going to take work and sacrifice no matter what I do, but what would you guys do to get the music in the best shape possible in a week? Can you offer some buzzing exercises, some playing ones, and maybe some practice techniques to deal with particular issues (slurring patterns, articulation patterns, etc.)? I'd appreciate it!

    My music is as follows:
    Fantasia Di Concerto, E. Boccalari (1:25 to 2:50 on this recording - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJRVviuCuX4)
    Fingal's Cave Overture, Mendelssohn (beginning to about 1:00 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcogD-hHEYs&t=54s)
    Finale from Tchaikovsky 4 (beginning to about 0:12 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0nlu_cBuJQ)
    Festival Variations, Claude T. Smith (about 1:23 to 1:50 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdmbC_A-Www)

    Thanks! Any recommendations at all are welcome.

  2. #2
    A week? This is going to be a challenge for us!

    First, you might look at this video on warming up. It's my system, and it is quite flexible. That is to say, you can shorten it up to get yourself going reasonably well situated for a good practice session.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqPql-Sh-7w

    Second, when under the gun I don't want to waste any time. During warmup, introduce almost immediately something relative to the pieces you're working up. Play in the keys of your pieces, even as you move slowly during warmup. As you go through scales/arpeggios in warmup, focus on keys that engage the fingerings you are working on (again, even slowly is helpful). Etc.

    Do NOT NOT NOT NOT woodshed measures that are fine. In other words, if an 8-bar passage is messing you up, but there is really only one bar that tangles your fingers, woodshed that bar more. And see my next paragraph.

    If a passage is sort-of close but has a couple rough spots, don't go through a multi-stage, slower-then-gradually-faster, add-a-measure-at-a-time process if the secret Russianoff system works. Leon Russianoff was a famous clarinet teacher and taught my wife a good touch-up trick. Drop the tempo to 1/2 and play through it, using very exact and strong finger motions. Then go to normal tempo and try it. Repeat this as needed. And my own addition to Leon's trick is this: pay very close attention to what feels awkward at 1/2 tempo, even if it sounds OK. If you feel your fingers jerk to get to a note, then stay at 1/2 tempo and see if you can smooth out the feeling.

    Without ignoring dynamics, be sure to use plenty of air. Take good, deep breaths before you start, and plan where the upcoming breaths need to be. (You may find the air does not go quite as far when you are nervous.)
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Richmond, KY
    Posts
    24
    This was incredibly helpful - thank you! Especially with the warm-up video. It's been a while since I've had warm-ups that are consistently this good, not because I was never taught how to warm-up, but because it's become too easy to just pick up the horn and go. That might be okay every now and then, but it's hard to remember the last time I sat down and warmed up just to warm up, and not to hurry onto the next thing.

    Every single one of my issues just needs practice, and none are outside my capabilities. The only thing that worries me are the meter changes in Festival Variations, as well as the articulation groupings. Have any tips for getting the feel of the meter changing down? It goes from 6/8 (basically straight eighth notes with different slur groupings) to 7/8 (same idea as the 6/8 passage, but in a 3+4 pattern instead of 3+3). It continually trips me up, even at a slow tempo.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH View Post
    The only thing that worries me are the meter changes in Festival Variations, as well as the articulation groupings. Have any tips for getting the feel of the meter changing down? It goes from 6/8 (basically straight eighth notes with different slur groupings) to 7/8 (same idea as the 6/8 passage, but in a 3+4 pattern instead of 3+3). It continually trips me up, even at a slow tempo.
    Think of the 7/8 as 3+2+2. When practicing slowly, put some weight on the sixth 8th note in the 7/8 bars. That's going to clarify the meter change for you and your listener.

    Also, this is a great thing to practice away from the horn. If you're somewhere or doing something where you can practice either singing or just the rhythm with the appropriate accents, do it. That'll be a big help when you get back to the horn.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist
    www.adrianquince.com

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Richmond, KY
    Posts
    24
    Thank you both!

    I ended up having a decent audition, and made the top of the middle band. Considering my current restraints and such I'm actually okay with that, and I'll have a better opportunity to move up in the section at the beginning of the second semester.

  6. #6
    Thanks for letting us know how it went. I'm glad you feel well-placed. Being at the top of the middle band may help you develop your musical leadership and confidence. And being in any band is an opportunity to keep working on playing well.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  7. If one is looking to audition for top spots but is unsure when opportunities may arise, being close to audition shape at all times is going to be the best course of action. In my case, I want to play solo euphonium in a brass band one of these days, but there is no telling when an opportunity in my area will open up. Thus I make an effort to be in a situation where I could prepare for an audition in short notice and be competitive.
    James Kircoff
    Genesee Wind Symphony - principal euphonium (Sterling Virtuoso 1065HS and Adams E1 Custom w/ Parker 4G Houser)
    Capital City Brass Band (2019 NABBA 2nd section champions) - 1st baritone (Besson BE956 w/ Denis Wick 6BY) and 10 piece ensemble (Getzen 1052FD w/ Bach 1G)

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