Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:
In this episode, you will learn about what you need for a flute audition- we’ll even go over two different types! This is going to be super informative for you, here we go!
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What you need for a flute audition, if you want to win, that is… Getting to the stage where you can play with other musicians is super cool, and there are some important things for you to know before you put yourself into this situation.
Never fear.. Rebecca is Here! Let’s discover all about it today – wahooo!
Welcome welcome, here we are, on a lovely sunny day in my neck of the woods, anyway.. We’re ready to play flute and have some fun discovering even more about what we can do and enjoy on this lovely musical journey with the instrument flute, and of course, our flutie friends, who are also possibly listening right alongside you at this very moment.
You know, it’s been forty plus years since I was hiding in my closet with my sister’s flute (that I would kind of steal while she wasn’t home, by the way), I was trying to figure out how to play it and craving to sound like I had heard on the vinyl records my dad had in the basement.
I had heard some flute players before, not very many though, and mostly flutes that were used were kind of accents in large symphony type bands and a few in the folk rock bands in the day.
I really did spend a lot of time marching around in my basement as a youngster with my baton, twirling it and spinning it and doing a lot of cartwheels and flips. So, really it’s only natural that I would be attracted to something that looked like a baton, but was actually the musical instrument, flute. I really couldn’t think of anything cooler. I loved how shiny it was.
So, you may know some of the rest of my story, but as a quick refresher, I did end up with my own flute- I found it in the potato cellar underground of my grandpa’s old home, and even though I didn’t have any great directions for a very long time for how to play it, I really was trying hard and I did feel that I had a knack for this instrument. I also played guitar at the time, and was singing and tumbling in all the talent shows. What a fun childhood.
There did come a day when I had opportunity to audition and play in higher level groups, and this really started my eyes-opening to a whole new world of performance and achievement.
I waltzed into my first one totally unaware of what was required, and that was the day I made a vow to find out what was important and needed in an audition … Well, I could have just been complacent to just go as I was, but I had seen and figured out that those who won the competitions or made the band were those who came prepped and completely ready.
And since I’ve been working with so many of you good people around the world on your flute skills, I know for a fact that there’s a very large chunk of you who, in the back of your minds, feel a little bit of a magnetic pull to play with a group that you’d have to audition to get into.
Now, this could be a local concert band, honor band, regional or municipal band, symphonic winds band, a wind orchestra, or an ensemble, a strings and wind orchestra, a pit orchestra, or maybe even outside of the classical realm where you’ll be playing with pop, country, celtic, folk, or even possibly a jazz band.
Well, no matter which one of these it might be, you’ll find yourself in the situation of needing some audition material and wondering what else you might need to know and prepare.
This is really great to think about – you’re already ahead of some of the others!
So let’s take a dive today into what you need for a flute audition… if you want to win, that is:
So let me make it really clear that there will be two different types of auditions into any group you’re looking into: The first being a formal type of audition where there are guidelines and some already-pre-made boundaries. And the other is where you show up and just have to have what it takes to dazzle your auditioner and no rules or guidelines are pre-set.
And for either one of these, you’ll need just about the same things learned and prepared way before you go. Let’s talk about these now:
So, The first type (you know, the more formal one with guidelines and rules), is what you’d find if you’re auditioning for, say, a concert band, symphony, orchestra, or even pit orchestra in most cases. You’ll find a similar list of items you’ll be asked to perform right there on the spot when you enter for your turn at an audition.
By the way, as a side note, I should mention that you really should warm up in a separate room before arriving to your audition. They don’t want to hear you warm up- at all. The adjudicators, judges, or whoever it is that’s conducting the audition interview will be possibly okay with you tuning again there in front of them, but usually you need to enter raring to go, and totally prepared – no warming up, and many times, no tuning.
Show up well dressed, a bit prim and proper actually, and be totally 100 percent prepared. Show up early, actually.
The first thing that they’ll do is kind of just have a little bit of chit-chat, and sometimes there is none at all.
You’ll need to hand them original copies of your music and then you are to step back, and put a pleasant look on your face, and do whatever they ask of you.
Whewwww this is where it gets exciting because they could ask you anything amongst a host of options. The first will almost always be your scales, though. Sometimes they’ll ask you to play just one scale. Sometimes you’ll have to play all of the scales.
Now, when they ask you to play a scale, your response should be to just put your flute up and play a perfect two octave scale, up and down, and always, always, always include the arpeggio. Do not, ask them “which scale?” if they didn’t specify, just put your flute up and play one that has some interest in the key signature like maybe Eb, Ab, or maybe the A natural scale.
Then prepare for them to ask you for your chromatic scale. You’ll want to play from the bottom of your instrument all the way to the top. Don’t play too screaming fast, but definitely don’t play very slowly… They’ll get bored. About this tempo is great!
Okay, now once you get past this first little part of your audition, you’ll get into the meat of it, where you almost always will have had to play from some sheet music that they provided you, when you signed up for the audition.
It will most likely be a short etude or an exercise of some sort. Depending on the level, they’ll ask you to bring your own etude, also. They really do want to know if you can read music, but this isn’t the best demonstration of it, this is just a precursor to what you’ll need to do next… which is they’ll hand you some sheet music that you’ve never seen before. You’ll have to sight read it right then and there- right in front of them.
Make sure you take a good few quiet seconds studying it first, take a long exhale, stare at your music, and count it out in your head first! This is really important because the purpose of this sight reading portion of your audition is to find out if you can read music that you haven’t had time with a teacher or on your own to study.
They want to know if you can count music properly and exactly. You actually can miss a note or two, as far as the notes go and you can still come out okay, but if your counting and rhythms are off, then you may have to go back to the drawing board. It really just depends on who else is auditioning that day, so keep your head high and just do your best.
The next thing you’ll need for a flute audition is a solo.
What solo you’ve chosen is entirely up to you, but it’s important to know that you should make sure it’s something that you can play absolutely perfectly without a mistake at all. You also should have a live accompanist there to play with you on the piano.
Now, this piece needs to be something that you have thought about long and hard. It should be something that is considered reputable from the standard flute literature.. No disney music here, folks.
It really should be of a level that you feel you can play your best. Don’t choose it just because it’s a hard piece. If it’s ‘hard’ to you, they will notice. Whatever you play, make sure you sound proficient, and like it’s a piece of cake.. And it’s the highest level you can do that at.
I’ve been in and helped others through hundreds and hundreds, and possibly thousands of auditions over the years, and these items I’ve just mentioned are tried and true.
If you are looking at auditioning for a formal group, then you’ll need these things that I’ve mentioned here, you’ll need them prepared perfectly and I will help you get there confidently.
Now, let’s take some time and swing over to the other type of audition which is for a less formal group, but not less musical in the least.
In fact, if you’re looking to get into a folk, pop, or jazz band, you’ll need something really important to make sure that you have an edge over the rest of the competition.. And this one little thing is, it’s just one little word… ‘style’.
You’ll need to be sure you show up with the right vibe the group is looking for from the way you dress, to the way you act at the audition. So, study up! Then be prepared for anything.. Basically you’ll want to be able to play along with them live, perhaps, and usually.
It all depends, and it’s totally okay to ask them what they would like you to prepare before you show up. And then, you should have lots of other music ready in that genre as well!
They probably will or maybe will not ask you to play your scales.. And if they do, they may ask for all 12 major scales, and maybe a minor. Then they’ll talk with you about your past experience and why you think you’re a good candidate for their group.
Also, it’s a really great idea for this type of group to demonstrate that you can play without looking at your sheet music. When they ask for a scale, don’t reach into a folder and put it on the stand. Scales are something you should know cold at all times.
Probably one of the biggest questions a group like this will ask you is if you are committed to being available for rehearsals and gigs on a long term basis. This is super important for the success of their group. They won’t bring on any band member if they don’t feel you’re actually going to be there at their most important times.
You’ll want to take your resume to this type of an audition as well. Make sure you’ve combed through your music journals to remember what you’ve done. What notable performances you’ve ever been in as well as any set lists of pieces you’ve ever performed in that genre. You’ll be ahead of the rest with this prepared, and they’ll take a second glance at you for sure!
Talk to them about your solo experience and make sure that they also know you’re a team player, and anything else you can add to the style of their group. Are you going to learn alongside them, or will you be able to help teach them as well?
One little last detail that you’ll want to think about is to let them know of any other leadership skills you may have. Performing bands most oftentimes have a need for administrative help in every little area possible.
Let them know you’re good at copying, organizing, and preparing setlist notebooks. Tell them if you have connections with possible venues they may be interested in performing at. And for heaven sakes, let them know that you can help them get paying gigs! Or at least that you’re willing to try.
So the two types of auditions we talked about today can really be a cool new experience for you.
A local concert band is so much fun to find lifelong friends in, and you may be able to come and go depending on your schedule and how many other flutists they have in the group. If you audition for, and commit to a smaller performing group that does gigs, you’ll also be able to broaden your horizons and meet new people.
It’s up to you to help either group the best you can, and either will most certainly help you climb and improve your music skills. In fact, there are things that you can learn by participating in groups of these types that you cannot learn anywhere else. It’s pretty neat!
What a fun subject for today.
Now I want to remind you that no matter the reason you are playing the flute, there are so many different opportunities I can help point you to. You have a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of yours and others around you’s lives with music, and just by being you.
I’ve just gone a little “Mr. Rogers” on you here, and I think you know what I mean. Flute players are the best! I know how hard you try, and I know what’s in your heart. I’m also very happy you’ve been here today.
I’m Rebecca Fuller, your instructor and it’s been fun discovering more about what you need for a flute audition, and now I urge you to go get your flute out, and make some beautiful music today.
See you next time!
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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about what you need for a flute audition. Join us for the next episode.