by Katherine Pukinskis –
Surviving music school auditions is like a day-long performance. It’s hard to be at your best (as a human and a musician) when you’re tired, and there’s no way around it: this is going to be a tired time for you. Here are some hints for making it through:
1. Get Sleep. Really. As much as you can. Sacrificing sleep in order to do any kind of work will sacrifice the quality of work that you are able to do. Don’t rely on energy drinks or caffeine to get you through. (Plus, those can really mess with your fine motor control, one of the big skills required for playing an instrument.)
2. Keep to your rituals or create new ones. There are all sorts of variables (eg., travel, time zones, weather) that throw a wrench in your system, and it’s important to have an established routine or set of activities that you can rely on. It can be a daily ritual like stretching before you go to bed, or a pre-audition ritual like always eating eggs for breakfast on audition day.
3. Thank your parents for dealing with you during your crazy stress-monster auditions. When I was auditioning for schools, my parents got used to my routine of not eating or speaking for up to 24 hours before an audition, and then being famished and extremely talkative immediately afterwards. They quietly accepted my peculiarities and chalked them up to the “audition crazies.” If you are lucky enough to have parents who can deal with your crazies, remember to thank them.
4. Keep up with your homework. Teachers are usually pretty great about extensions for projects during this stressful time, but don’t use that as an excuse for not doing any work at all. Use car and plane rides to stay on top of your homework.
5. Have an outlet to get away from music for a while. Sometimes, with all of the practicing and rehearsing and auditioning, it’s just too much music. It’s important to have something that “resets” or “recharges” your work.
And remember, everyone is different. What worked for me may not work for you. The best thing to do is to listen to yourself and take care of the bigger instrument –– you.