I auditioned a while back for a local jazz band. As always it was a very interesting night. You get to meet new people, learn new music and try to make a good impression all at the same time.
Auditioning for a band or show is, or should be, a fun experience and one where you learn something. I have to admit though it can be a nerve-racking experience if you are walking into an unknown situation. It is something that was recommended to me by my first drum teacher as something you should do on a regular basis, even if you are convinced you are not going to get the job. His theory was that it kept you sharp and forced you out of your comfort zone. I heard someone once say that your comfort zone was like underpants elastic. Once you stretch it, it never quite shrinks back its’ original size!
- After hearing the guys in the band talking about some of the other drummers that had tried out & failed, I thought I would give you a few tips on making the audition process less painful and more productive.
- Be punctual. Don’t let the new bands’ first impression be that you are someone who can’t turn up on time.
- Try to find out in advance some of the stuff you might be playing and take the time to learn it. Some bands will deliberately NOT tell you what they are playing to test out your ability to play by ear. Even if you don’t know exactly what you will be asked to play you can practice something in a similar style to prepare.
- Be humble. Don’t try to take over the band and re-arrange all their songs at your first meeting.
- Keep your playing simple. Don’t try to show them all of your tricks in the first ten minutes. It is much more important to demonstrate good timing and good feel than to show them every fill you know.
- Play with confidence. This comes back to having your basics down and having good foundations to build on.
- Take a pencil & some music paper. It still blows people away that a “mere drummer” can read music. Take a few rough notes as you go just to aid your memory. Remember, if you get the job you will be expected to probably learn a lot of songs very quickly. A few notes to help with the arrangement or accents etc can make life easier.
- Don’t take your crappy old practice kit. After you get the job you can do this but first impressions count.
- Don’t come across as a “desperate”.
The main thing is to treat it like a learning experience and not like your life depends upon it. Play with confidence, listen hard to what is going on and you might get more jobs than you expect.