After your résumé has been processed, you will probably receive material detailing how an audition tape should be prepared. Often specifications are very detailed, and you should follow them to the letter. If there is any doubt, call the personnel manager, but don’t phone him or her with trivial questions about details that you may have overlooked on the instructions.
Typically, audition tape instructions will tell you: what excerpts to record; the order to record them in; what recording equipment to use; what recording format to send (CD or tape); and how to label your recording. Beyond the technical and bureaucratic demands, there are several elements you should keep in mind when making an audition recording:
6 Tips on Nailing That Orchestral Audition Recording
- Aim for perfection–this is your chance to showcase your playing to a hiring committee that must listen to many such recordings, so never send a recording that contains errors in tuning or timing. The quality of your playing should be matched by the quality of your recording–seek help with the technical side if you need to.
- Choose the right environment–an empty concert hall will have too much reverberation; your bedroom will have too little. Good places to record are in a rehearsal room, classroom, or church hall. Make sure that the room is quiet and free from outside noise interference.
- Choose the best equipment–Use the best microphones (condenser mikes rather than dynamic) and recording equipment you can get your hands on. If using tape, buy professional quality tapes with good noise reduction. Record in stereo. Set the microphones about 15 or 20 feet from you and about seven to 10 feet high. Check recording levels so you don’t peak at levels that cause distortion.
- Experiment and practice–Give yourself plenty of time to make your recording as you will want to check recording levels and mike placement in addition to warming up and running through the excerpts. If recording over a couple of days, note where you placed mikes and equipment in case anything is moved in your absence.
- Be Your Own Critic–Very often a committee will only listen to one or two excerpts of each tape, and switch off when a mistake is heard. You must be as critical with your own recording as the committee members will be. Play the excerpts in order when recording, stopping if you make a clear mistake but playing through minor lapses. Then play back, critique, and re-record till you have one good representation of your playing for each excerpt.
- Do-It-Yourself–Professional recording studio rates can be high and often what they produce can be done just as well at home. It’s better to spend money on your own recording equipment (buying or renting) and learn how to do your own recordings–you may find you have a lot more fun this way as well!