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Audition Tapes part II

February 13, 2012

Hey everyone!

Last week I wrote about equipment and setup when making an audition tape, and this week I’ll discuss the process itself.

When first sitting down after hitting the record button, most of us will feel relatively normal as we begin playing. However, as you continue playing, you’ll find the experience stressful, and you’re likely to mess up. The process isn’t quite like a performance, but you’ll soon feel the same stress of trying to play everything perfectly in one shot. Suddenly, you’ll realize that you’re not quite as strict with yourself during practice as you’d like to think. This is the main reason why I like to set aside a few weeks to complete the recording process.

I do not plan on making any final recordings during the first week; instead, I focus on changing my playing based off of the quality of recording I’m making. In fact, I usually find this time period to be one of my most productive during competition preparation. For once, you’re actually listening to yourself in the way that an audience member (or your teacher) is, and because of that, you will hear your playing in an entirely new light. By spending the first week or so ironing out all the parts that you want to change (or that you’re messing up/forgetting), you’ll become much more confident. This will allow you to be comfortable when recording and will boost the quality of your real performance too!

When you’re making your recording, it’s easy to hear what you would like to change. However, that doesn’t mean you know exactly what the judges will be listening for in your CD. Remember that when listening to a CD, the listener has only his ears to evaluated you by, so you can’t hope that any glaring deficiencies will be hidden by a domineering stage presence or any other non-aural component of a performance. Therefore, you must be strict in the following areas; make sure you do everything exactly as written unless you have a convincing reason not to (and this should be discussed with your teacher):

Tempo

Rhythm

Dynamics

Notes

Buzzing

Pedals

Phrasing

Interpretation

Simple, right? Not so much. It can take a lot of work for some of these elements to come through very clearly in a recording. Basically make sure that everything is right, that you’re playing musically, and that you sound confident and solid. Notice, though, that tone is not included. Most competitions will not evaluate your tone during the preliminary round simply because recording conditions, equipment, differences between harps, etc. can all unfairly give an  advantage or disadvantage. That’s not a license to play harshly, though. I know that you won’t officially be evaluated on those terms, but part of me is certain that a good tone through a good recording is going to help, at least subconsciously.

You might be interested in seeing an evaluation form from the Young Artist’s Harp Competition, which is to be held this summer. Note that this competition requires a DVD for the preliminary round, and that’s why “Memorization” and “Technique” are not marked “live round only” (though buzzing could fall under the category of technique).

Happy practicing!

STK

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