Helpful tips for participants

The NAC Orchestra Bursary Competition offers its participants an experience that closely resembles a “real world” audition. Accordingly, the Bursary Committee has compiled the following tips to help you succeed in this and many other audition experiences.

Before your audition

  • Determine repertoire months in advance; consult your teacher closely in this process.
  • Choose a solo piece with which you are comfortable and that shows off your strengths. Do not choose a difficult piece merely to impress the jurors; consult your teacher to make sure it is appropriate to your playing level.
  • Take the orchestral excerpts to your private music teacher to get ideas on style. Pay close attention to the tempo markings indicated on the music.
  • Listen to recordings that correspond to your orchestral excerpts. Compare different interpretations of the same piece.
  • If available, use a tuner and metronome during the early stages of practice. This will help you correct pitch and rhythm problems as you learn the piece.
  • Prepare expressive parts as carefully as technical parts. Identify the mood and message of these sections.
  • Be aware that the jury committee may only ask for part of a piece. Be able to start your piece from various points (not always the beginning).
  • Be familiar enough with your material so that you can perform it no matter what happens.
  • Rehearse in your performance clothes. Choose clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident. 
  • Record your program on an audio or video recorder and listen to it to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Build up your strengths and work on weak areas.
  • Practice playing in front of an audience and let them critique your performance.

The day of the audition

  • Allow plenty of time to arrive, find the audition room and warm-up. Nothing plays on nerves like having to rush or worry about missing your appointment time. Call immediately if you cannot make your appointment time.
  • Expect some waiting around. We do our best to stay on schedule, but sometimes there are delays. Be prepared.
  • The jurors will listen to your audition with compassion: they want you to do your best. 
  • Sharing your musical talent with others is part of the orchestral experience. Be yourself and enjoy the audition process.
  • Be courteous and professional inside and outside the audition room.
  • Take your time at the audition – don’t rush!
  • Keep going even if you make mistakes.
  • Be prepared. This helps you to be confident.
  • Be expressive… this makes your music more interesting!
  • Be considerate of fellow musicians and keep your volume down in the lobby or hallway while you're waiting.
  • Most of all, enjoy your audition! Your best performance happens when you play from your heart.