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How to make an awesome audition recording

It’s getting close to the end of the year, which means it’s time for…

Audition recordings!

Whether you’re auditioning for university, orchestras, or other opportunities, you want to create a polished and professional product to stand out from the crowd.

Here’s some advice to help you make an awesome audition recording:

  • Plan way in advance. The number one mistake I see students making is waiting until the last minute. I get second-hand anxiety when I know people record the week before a deadline (I’ve even had students tell me after the fact that they recorded hours before the deadline!). As soon as you find out the details and deadline, start preparing and scheduling your recording sessions. Book the venue, confirm your accompanist (if needed), and start practicing. The more prepared you are, the better your chances will be of advancing to the live round.
  • Schedule more recording time than you need. Whenever I’m making a recording, I always make sure to have bonus time. This way, I can redo takes of anything I want to have another shot at, or I can make sure I have ample time to dedicate to tricky passages. This also gives you some buffer time if you don’t play your best at one session. Pro tip: Schedule one hour of recording for every 10 minutes of music. This might vary depending on what pieces you’re recording (after all, 10 minutes of the Nielsen Concerto is far more demanding than 10 minutes of a Weber Concerto), so adjust to fit your repertoire requirements.
  • Be mindful of your background on video recordings. Look, I know not everyone can rent out a concert hall for their recordings. Wherever you decide to record, make sure the background is clean and free from distractions. I’ve seen my fair share of home audition videos this past year, and it’s easy to become distracted by open closets, piles of rubbish, or generally disorganized backgrounds.
  • Find your ideal mic placement for audio recordings. Before hitting record, experiment with different microphone placements. This will vary greatly depending on the room’s acoustics, but do a few test takes with the microphone in different locations (and at different heights) to see what sounds best. Pro tip: You should also experiment with any microphone settings to make sure it captures your best sound. If you don’t know about all of your mic’s settings, watch a few tutorial videos and learn about them. (YouTube is a great place to start!)
  • Follow all instructions carefully. When uploading files and documents, make sure to read (and reread) the instructions. Do the instructions require live, unedited performances, or can you combine different takes? Is there a specific file format they require? Do they ask for one continuous take, or are multiple takes for movements/excerpts allowed? How should you name the files? Do you include your name or other identifying details in your application? Make sure to follow all the requirements to prevent disqualification.
  • Upload early. There are few things worse than encountering technical errors when submitting important applications (especially if you waited until the last minute to record. If so, refer to my first point above!) Upload as soon as you’ve completed your recording. This way, you will have time to deal with any technical glitches which may occur.

If you want more audition tips, here are a few other resources I created:

Best of luck to you during your audition journey!