Sunday, January 24, 2010


What are the deadliest three words in the audition business? After working diligently for months on your list, you do your best to survive all the travel stress on the big day, and then wait for hours trying to stay ready. Finally you get your 8 to 10 minutes, only to get rudely stopped by those three dreaded words, "Thank you. Next." The committee may as well have shouted "LOSER!" and then laughed out loud. Oh, the sting of it!

So, you give up? Change professions? Not so fast. Keep in mind that not winning can be the start of some great music-making on your part, if you want. Why be discouraged? That's normal. Anyone can get depressed. Here is your chance to learn from your loss and to manage your emotions. A defeat does not define us, it should propel us.

Consider your discouraging audition experience a vital part of the growth and refining process rather than a personal insult. Take inventory. In the heat of your audition moments dross (unwanted tendencies) rose to the surface and now waits to be skimmed off. But more importantly, have a new focus. Instead of despair, you have a fresh list of highlighted items to address tomorrow, not only negatives to reduce, but many positives to add.

It's the positives that make winners. Maybe it's not what you did wrong that disqualified you as much as what you did not do enough of. Consider that the committee really was rooting for you, but they didn't hear enough musical moments to advance you. Instead, they may have heard indecision and lack of confidence. Practicing being convincing is your first goal. (Or, if you were a little too convincing, perhaps tone it down a bit. That is, over the edge in style and dynamics, not likely to fit in, overdone, too exuberant. Most need to turn up the heat. Some need to cool it.)

Auditions also have a nice way of reacquainting us with much needed humility. After all, who do we think we are to have every one of life's rewards handed to us at every turn?

Another perspective: Others are watching to see how our loss affects us. Learning to handle adversity may well be the most important achievement of the day. Winners must learn how to lose. A gracious loser is better than a proud winner.

Lastly, life is bigger than an audition victory or loss. It's not life or death. Keeping that in mind can relieve some of the pressures of performance. The quality of the person is more important than the position held.