Michael Faust header1 Michael Faust
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  Stress at audition and at audition preparation
  Info: This were questions, I was asked - and here are the answers:
Has stress ever affected your performance at auditions?

Oh yes! When I was between 17 and 20, I sometimes had 'black-outs': well known pieces were just blocked, fingers didn't want to move, I was trembling and saw 'black'.

Has it ever enhanced your performance?

I remember once a performance (final concert of a competition I had won) with radio, LP and TV - recording, that at the moment of the black-out my brain switched to 'auto-pilot' and I got till the end without knowing what had happened. Nobody recognized the little note, that I played twice. Only I still know, where it happened (more than 25 years ago)

What are the most common effects of stress at an audition in your opinion?

Some have a different feeling in the mouth, inthe stomach, the fingers. some tremble very much, some less. It may not effect the playing, it may even be good for the 'good tention' we need for a good performance.

What parts of the performance are mostly affected by stress?

That differs much: some are nervous at the beginning and it calms down, some become enormously nervous after a little mistake. One has to understand, the 'stress' is not nessasarily bad for a performance: we do need this tention for a good performance.

What situations or surprises did you encounter at an actual audition that created stress for you (anecdotes welcome)? (s.a.)

one more: I auditioned to enter a youth-orchestra, had nomusic with me for the Mozart-concerto, since I was so shure of the piece - and collapsed: my brain and fingers always slipped into similar passages in my cadenza - I did not enter that orchestra...

What are the most stressful parts of an orchestral audition for you?

I differed very much: When I knew the orchestra-members, I sometimes was more nervous that in front of a totally unknown crowd, but sometimes it helped to have somebody positive in the audience. So most times Mozart went well, since the music is so strong. For the orchestra-excerps the way the orchestra-member act, is very important.

What are some of the differences for you in stress between a concert and an audition?

In a concert I 'act' as a performer on stage, I show different parts of my personality. In an audition I have to show lots of my technical skills, I have to play "correctly" - depending on the position I play for - I have to match the musical and sound-taste of the orchestra. That makes me play more tied, more "head-controlled".

What advice do you have for battling bad results from stress in the actual audition?

We have to learn to breath calmly, have to learn to concentrate on the actual action we are doing: if we play the "Pflicht", we show our best technical side, when we play "Kür" we show our musicality. This concentration helps to forget the stress and gets us down to the important. But: most important is to keep open our ears: always listen to yourself!

What advice or methods do you have for practicing at home, so that stress will have a less negative impact at an audition (for ex. practice slow, do mock auditions)?

Try to play as many 'auditions' as possible: invite friends, invent internal concerts, play for your parents and brothers (for some the most difficult auditors). We have to train the situation as much as possible. Only then we do get to know ourselfes and our reactions on situations of stress. The 'practice slow'is an advice for any studying. Learn not to laugh when people make jokes: you learn to be with yourself, to think and concentrate on what you have to do this very moment. Try the following: While playing, change your way of playing, not only when something bothers you. Do practice this a lot: give yourself the order to change way of sounding, way of phrasing, tempo, dynamic etc.

How might stress the week(s) before an audition negatively impact practicing? Do you have tips on how to prevent that?

If so, do use this negative impact to again get to know yourself, analyse the negative feeling and try to combat it with breathing, bending, concentrating, meditating (mental training) a.s.o.

In your experience, what causes stress (for ex. psychological attitude, expectations)?

Expectation is the clue-word, in any situation, not only auditions: if you have no expectations, you might be more concentrated. This means themoment of playing. Of course you go to an audition with the goal to win, to get the job. But at the moment of playing we must forget this, must think of just the music, or the technical skill. The worst attitude is arrogance. Just be happy for the one who wins - one day it is your day!

What has helped you personally to deal with stress, and do you have other general advice about dealing with stress?

As I said: normally the more we play, the better we can deal with stress, the more normal becomes the situation of performing. So it is good to start early with trying out ones personality: everybody reacts different and needs different advice. Generally the only thing that helps is: go for it and do it!