Building Life Skills Through Auditions

Festival Audition Workshop pic

special by Su D’Ambrosio
Au-di-tion (noun): a test in the form of a performance, e.g. by a musician applying for a position in an orchestra, band or chorus…in-ter-view (noun): a meeting during which somebody is asked questions, e.g. by a prospective employer, a journalist, or a researcher…

By the time I was sixteen I had participated in about twenty auditions. In elementary school there was All-Town Chorus. In middle school there was Junior District ensembles and Blackstone Valley Regional ensembles. In high school there was Senior District, All-State, Mass. Youth Wind Ensemble, Greater Boston Youth Symphony, not to mention seating auditions in every ensemble to assure that I got to play the “first” parts. Then, of course, there were college auditions which would determine the course of my future. I didn’t realize it at the time, but these auditions were not only the gateway into amazing performing opportunities, but a real training ground for one of the most important skills in life: being able to represent your best self under pressure.

Prior to auditioning, my private lesson teacher prepared me musically. Little did I know that the musical portion of the audition would be the easiest, and that the difficult part of each audition was controlling my nerves and remaining calm, cool and collected under pressure. The best musical preparation in the world can’t help you if you are unsure of yourself, shaking and scared to death. It is difficult to simulate this intense experience at home in order to learn how to handle it. The only way to “practice” this part of the audition is to find people who will listen and then play.

With this in mind, South Shore Conservatory offers Festival Audition Workshop, a free opportunity for students to play for each other, receive helpful suggestions from an SSC faculty member, and begin building some positive performance experience. It also includes group forum discussions where students can share experiences and discover new ways of preparing so that they can walk into the audition room confidently and make great music.

Epilogue: The skills I learned in preparation for auditions have helped me enormously in job interviews. Even at my first job interview, as I was interviewed for a waitress position in a local sandwich and ice cream shop, the owner sat me down in one of the restaurant booths and asked me a few questions about my availability and then hired me on the spot. I had no experience at all and I wondered what made him think I would be a good waitress. Maybe it was because I presented myself with poise and confidence. If that was the case, it was certainly due to several years of experience with band and orchestra auditions.

Festival Audition Workshop is Sunday, November 8, from 12-3 pm at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham. It is open to all students in grades 7-12 who are preparing to audition for Southeast Districts in November or December. This event is free but students need to register to reserve a spot. Please call (781) 749-7565 x10 to take advantage of this great opportunity.


Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Programs and Curriculum for South Shore Conservatory. She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa and her dog Bernie who was definitely a little nervous when he met Su, Rosa and Maria at his first doggie “interview.”

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