Everyone has to do it at some point in their musical lives. Whether it is the first time you play with the student band or leading a congregation at a prospective job, this will summon the best (and worst) of all of us.
Have you ever had to prepare for an audition? Then you know it is a road full of peril and potholes! But with the right roadmap, I believe we can navigate it successfully.
Before the Audition
It is easy to think we know a song when we can sing along with it on the radio, but we all know it’s another thing entirely to play that song by yourself. When you get the opportunity, put in the work. Don’t settle for knowing how a song goes. Work toward knowing the intricate details of parts and tones, stops and starts. When to lay out is just as important as when to play. Be aware that the people you’re auditioning for (especially in the worship environment) may not only want to know that you play your instrument well, but also want to know you have a good work ethic and an eye for detail. In this case, sweating the small stuff is a good practice.
Practice for the Moment
It is unlikely that your audition is going to take place sitting in front of your computer listening through your speakers. Practice like you are going to perform, and the audition will be better because of your preparedness. Will you be standing in the audition? Then stand up to prep. Get as close as you can to the actual conditions of the audition, and you can rule out a lot of the distractions that come with the audition environment.
During the Audition
Yes, that may be the hardest part. I even had one person tell me they were just bad at auditioning! Their nerves would always get the best of them. Whatever the reason, find a way to be calm.
I always ask, “What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t do well?” And usually, the honest answer is a little underwhelming: Nothing changes. Nothing bad happens, no one gets thrown down a mineshaft or locked up for a bad audition! Relax.
Admit What You Don’t Know
Sometimes learning a part can be challenging. Even seasoned players can get stumped on occasion. I’ve found that admitting the struggle can be a great idea.
“Hey, I really couldn’t figure out this one part. Could you show me that?” goes a lot farther than playing a part badly because you weren’t able to nail it down.
Be a Person, Not Just a Player
Even in a room full of people trying out for a worship team, I will more likely connect with the ones who were personable and pleasant to be around than I will the guy who was a blazing fast talent but wouldn’t look me in the eye. As a leader, I’m looking for both skill and heart, but I’m also looking for people who will be a happy addition to the team. Engage in conversation with the leaders and other participants in the process, and see what happens. And if you don’t make the team, it’s possible to make friends and connections to serve through dialogue and hang time that would otherwise have been impossible.
After the Audition
Patience, young Padawan!
You did it! Home run or strikeout, you made it to the other side. Whether or not you make the team or get the gig, the audition is behind you. Be grateful. You did the work, and you put forth your best effort. The process of choosing someone for a team, especially in a worship environment, is a long one. Just be patient and trust that you did all you could do, and let the outcome be what it is.
Interestingly, one of my favorite “failed” auditions turned out to be one of my best drummers (and a great friend). Because he was willing to submit to the process and come back for a review, he moved from a failed audition to being an integral part of the team. It just goes to show that it isn’t always a stellar audition that sets you apart, sometimes it is the willingness to work after the audition that makes all the difference.
Talk to me! What’s one of your best audition stories?