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The Psychology of Auditions

November 19, 2018
Ashley Faber

Memphis, Tennessee

Auditions are a necessary evil that all musicians must go through. Unfortunately, they can really mess with your head. The process entails preparation, psyching yourself up, trying not to dwell on mistakes afterward, and dealing with the possible rejection. How can you go through this so many times and still have a healthy state of mind?

As a musician, I know this struggle all too well. I have been playing violin for six years and I still find auditions scary. Auditioning is showcasing yourself in front of someone in an attempt to prove yourself, and that aspect is what intimidated me the most as a twelve-year-old in my first audition for an all-district orchestra. This audition was blind, meaning I practically played for a black curtain. But I knew that there was a man sitting behind that black curtain, a man who was listening to every note I play and judging every way in which I interpreted this music. Twelve-year-old me did not yet have the ability to ignore these conditions in order to perform well, ultimately scaring me and making me insecure.

As I got older, my fears evolved and changed; the audition became more about my skill level and less about facing the man behind the curtain. Despite this, I still let whether I did well during that one performance determine if I was a success or a failure and validate my abilities as a musician. I would give the audition power to take me over, and I would hyperfocus on it to a point where I was willing to practice until my fingers fell off.

Now I am here, currently preparing for an audition this month. For the most part, I have gotten over my fears, but of course, they occasionally do return. Over the span of six years, I have learned tips from many people about how to handle auditions from a psychological perspective. There was one piece of advice in particular that stuck with me the most: effort matters so much more than the outcome. An audition is not the end of the road, but the next step of the journey to becoming a better musician. One audition does not and will never define your ability. I have grown as a musician and as a person because I now know how to simultaneously accept the outcome and appreciate my effort.

Ashley Faber is a BBG from Cotton States Region who plays the violin and is on her high school quiz bowl team. She enjoys kickboxing and listening to music.

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