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The Bulletproof Musician Blog


Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Ah…the beginning of another new year. Full of excitement, promise, hope, and resolutions to be made (and broken…). Many of you have probably already jumped right back into full-blown practice mode, as school auditions are just around the corner. With that in mind, here are some key strategies to incorporate into your preparation for audition season, to reduce audition-day jitters and prepare you to do your best when the moment arrives.

I seem to remember an article about how some folks were using "performance enhancing" drugs (seriously). One was a drug that allowed you to oxygenate your blood more -- I don't remember the name. Another was Ritalin, because it helps you to focus. Here's one article that lists even more.


One thing I thought was very interesting was a comment by a bassoonist that played in one of those All-State Band thingies. He said that he always auditioned on the same piece. While he definitely could play his audition piece extremely well -- and from memory -- he was pretty worthless for anything else. To me, that's just wrong: getting into an All-State Band isn't the point. It's becoming the best musician you can be. However, I'm not necessarily knocking the idea of always playing the same audition piece. I can imagine auditioning for the PSO and wanting to play a piece that I've studied in and out for the past 15 years (or something), if you have that option. However, I've seen the audition requirements for some symphony orchestras and they just drop a piece in front of you and expect you to play it or they just announce which piece you'll be auditioning on.
Versatility, versatility, versatility. And solid/proficient is the goal.

Wait, bulletproof? Everyone evacuate, can I shoot this blog? ;) Kidding. Hard day. Trying to relieve stress. Speaking of which, I personally find sipping a hot cup of chamomile tea or two before performances. It helps keep me calm and focused, better than drugs for sure, I can consider myself guilty of a little nicotine... but I (try to) limit myself. Don't do it, kids.

I say if it works it works but drug dependency (legal or not) is not my favorite thing in the world for sure.

Practice until you feel comfortable with what you're doing, it's that simple, personally built confidence is key. I didn't get a chance to read the whole blog so excuse my lack-of-external-knowledge issues but I must emphasize my point. Drugs are bad.
Back in 1994 my old prof. Band Director at the university let us crash at his place for the reunion. In return, I let him try to (semi?) hypnotize me to reduce stress when taking auditions (which I haven't done in decades). He had me play a technical orchestral excerpt before and after the session. Felt the same to me.
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