“As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.” Georges Bizet

(Note: this entry is part of a series of audition tips. Click here for the beginning of the series.)

So you’ve learned the notes and rhythms of your audition piece, you’re taking care to keep the pitch up at the ends of phrases, and you’re beginning to hate the piece – this bunch of notes that you’ve played so many times it makes your brain numb. Now what? Well, it’s time to fall in love. No, not with the guy/girl that sits next to you in band – with your music. Yes, that bunch of notes that’s beginning to feel like a torture device invented by some unknown sadistic authority type, is actually one of the most amazingly inspiring creations in the history of humanity.

First of all – hopefully by now you own, and have been listening regularly to, at least one, or ideally three, four, maybe five or six recordings of the piece. You say you have seven? Awesome! (If not now’s the time! You may wish to choose based on the thoughts below, or your teacher’s recommendation, or your own browsing, but get something! Click here for some recommended YouTube recordings – and use good headphones!)

Start listening with a new ear – shake off the tedium you’ve experienced in learning the notes for a little while – and listen as if you’ve never heard the piece before. Hopefully it will be self-evident that there’s plenty to fall in love with. Then start reveling in the finer points. Notice the differences between one recording and another. Think about what details you love about one recording, and which you don’t like as much about another. Think about how YOU would ideally like to play it. Obviously, we all need to play the correct notes and rhythms, but beyond that, notice how wide the differences are between professionals in the way they treat particular notes or phrases. It’s by reveling in those differences and developing a deeper understanding of what you want from your own playing that truly brings your performance beyond playing a bunch of notes and on to a clearly evident expression of the love that this music was intended to be.

The main idea here is that all of these recordings are amazing, unique, and awe-inspiring. Listen to them as much as you can. I hope to follow up on this post with additional thoughts on detailed nuances regarding the Bizet Menuet in particular, but for now revel in the beauty of this music and the variety of ways it can be interpreted. What style do you prefer? You may love them all – great! Over time you may appreciate aspects of one or more interpretations in particular. It’s when you take this music into your soul and fall in love with it in all its glorious detail that you take the step beyond preparing for an audition and into playing like a pro.

Next week: Entry #5: Keep on breathing!