Audition Advice 101

Audition Advice 101

Auditions are just around the corner and I thought it would be a good idea to crowd source an audition advice post so that we can give some advice to incoming freshman and transfer students who will be auditioning soon. To start off the discussion, I thought I would present my observations and suggestions from past auditions and ask other teachers and percussionists to add their comments below. In a couple of weeks, I will compile all of the comments and create a master list of audition advice.

Audition Advice

  • Run your entire audition several times prior to your live audition.
  • Perform your audition music for an audience and video the performance. Do not let the audition be the first time you play through everything in order.
  • Dress appropriately. No Jeans. No Tennis Shoes. No Shorts. No Track Suits. No Sweats. (I have seen all of these on an audition). First impressions count. Ties are optional. Be comfortable.
  • Practice performing in the outfit that you are going to wear to the audition.
  • Make sure you play a concert snare roll when you are playing a concert snare drum solo. I don’t want to hear a double stroke roll on a Mitchell Peters, Anthony Cirone or Jacques Delecluse etude. Also, practice playing your rolls soft to loud to soft.
  • Play a marimba and snare drum piece that has rolls.
  • It is great to play a flashy piece, but it is more impressive to play something musical.
  • Play a 2 mallet and a 4 mallet piece. Excerpts are great.
  • If possible, play on a variety of different instruments before an audition. (For example, play your marimba piece on 4-5 different brands of marimbas).
  • Practice Tuning Timpani. Make sure you can tune 4ths, 5ths and Octaves quickly.
  • Don’t play a piece that requires 5 timpani.
  • If you are playing a timpani piece for the audition, make sure the piece includes some timpani techniques (rolls, dampening, crossing/shifting) and doesn’t have a lot of tuning changes (you never know which type of pedals will be on the timpani).
  • Practice sight reading EVERYDAY on snare drum and marimba prior to the audition.
  • When you get to the sight reading portion of the audition, take 15-30 seconds to scan through the piece before you start. Once you start, do not stop. Pick a tempo where you think you can play through the entire piece.
  • Take a couple of private lessons with a teacher other than your private instructor. It is good to get an unbiased opinion of your playing prior to an audition. It is also good to work on your nerves when playing for a new teacher.
  • Figure out the order you want to play your pieces in prior to the audition. Don’t come into the audition and say “Uh, so what do you want to hear?” You don’t have a lot of control of what happens in the audition and if you can take control and ask if you can play the pieces in a logical order you will feel more relaxed.
  • Have a copy of the audition music for the panel. Organize the music in a binder and put it in the order you want to play it. Make 2-3 copies of the music. If you are playing a lot of pieces, use tabs to split up the music so it is easy for the committee to find the music.
  • Know the name of the person you are auditioning for. Do some research about the school and have some questions for the panel/teacher.
  • If possible, come a couple of days early and talk to current students to get an idea of the program. It is also advisable to take a lesson with the director of the program and attend some rehearsals (both percussion and large ensemble).

I have been compiling this list over the many years I have been sitting in on auditions. I am sure there additional points that can addressed. Please leave comments below and I will compile them into one master document.

Note: If you leave a comment below, it may be used on master list that will be posted on DrumChattr. If you do not wish to be included on the list, please say so in the comments. It is my hope that we can create a document that everyone can use and pass out to prospective students.


Originally posted on on November 17, 2012.

The photo in this post is used under the Creative Commons License: Attribution – NonCommercial – No Derivs 2.0 by KaroliK on

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