Calgary Philharmonic bassist Matt Heller (a frequent subject of posts here at doublebassblog.org) recently put out an excellent audition preperation breakdown on his blog hellafrisch.blogspot.com. Matt is an excellent bassist and blogger (and a swell guy to boot–we’ve been friends for years) who was featured in the New York Times by columnist Dan Wakin while Matt was a member of the New World Symphony.
When it comes to learning long audition repertoire lists, we bassists don’t have it nearly as bad as percussionists. I used to manage mock auditions at the New World Symphony, and for most instruments the excerpt materials would be about the thickness of a Time magazine, 40 to 50 sheets at most. When one of our percussionists was playing a mock, though, he would hand me a book the size of the Miami telephone directory, which I would flip through in a daze before handing it to another percussionist to pick out a few excerpts.
Still, there have been some comparatively long lists at recent bass auditions, and even a shorter list can wear you down if you don’t budget your practice time intelligently. How many pieces can you expect yourself to practice every day, and really benefit from that work? How much time should you set aside for technique and scale studies, solos and repertoire for your job or school — not to mention listening to recordings, visualization exercises, and other useful work away from the instrument? And how much should you set aside for rest, recreation, and having a life outside the practice room?
Read the complete post here.
If you’re not familiar with Matt’s blog, take a moment and poke around his blog archive. Matt is an outstading writer and a top-notch musician with a wealth of content. He was a featured author for Drew McManus’ Take a Friend to the Orchestra initiative (I participated in this in 2007), and he injects wit and charm into everything we writes.