‘Play the audition like you’re already on the gig’ – J.J.Johnson (Tedeschi Trucks Band, John Mayer)
I used to be terrible at auditions. My nerves took me over, I tried to act and dress like what I thought they wanted, and ended up all fraught, not playing to my best ability and ultimately not getting the gig.
One day I was talking about this to my friend JJ, explaining that I had an audition coming up for Kylie that I really wanted to get, and he said to me, ‘Always play the audition like you’re already on the gig’. So I did. Well I tried to. It ended up being an audition for a video of hers. After playing through the song once, I was asked if I could look a bit more moody, which I interpreted as pouty, more duck-like. Needless to say I didn’t get that one!
From then on I tried to keep JJ’s advice in my head for any audition I did, be it a new artist starting out, or a huge name. It seems to work for me, and this is what I’ve distilled it down to:
- Learn the songs better than the artist. I’m talking inside and out, back to front.
- Learn the other instrument’s parts. At least to hear in your head and sing back.
- Learn the lyrics. A lot of auditions I’ve done were just the instrumentals, no lyrics, so it’s good to have them running in your head to know where you’re at. Also it’s always double kudos if the singer turns round to you and sees you happily singing along to their lyrics.
- Know the tempo. If there’s no track, you want to be on point so the song sits right.
- Visualise! Sit either with or without the track and run through playing your part with the band, it all going perfectly, and everyone turning to you and smiling. Imagining the best possible outcome will do wonders, I promise!
- Be relaxed. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just be you, be playful, be human. It’ll be as much about your personality as anything else, so let it shine as best you can.
- Accept that sometimes, you’re just not the droid they’re looking for. And that’s ok, there’s a gig that’s out there with your name on it, just keep going, and you’ll find it, and make sure you learn a lot of lessons along the way.