Celebrating Excellence
Dr. Aho (614) 562-4189

Audition Advice

Audition Advice – How to ease those fears and jitters!…

The All-Star Brass Bands is looking for students who demonstrate ability, a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence, and a willingness to learn and improve.

What will the atmosphere be like?

The All-Star Brass Bands is looking for students who demonstrate ability, a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence, and a willingness to learn and improve.

The Audition Atmosphere - What will it be like?

Auditions are not meant to be gut-wrenching or scary. The audition is merely an opportunity for us to see your potential. We try to keep things light and relaxed. We allow our nominees to focus on simply doing their best.

Finally, in twenty-three past seasons we have garnered considerable experience and insights. Remember that many of our staff are former All-Stars who were once in your shoes! Even our Directors must still audition for roles in their professional lives. They all know what its like and are sensitive to how you feel!

  1. In your audition, make sure you can play the scales/rudiments required for your target age group. If you haven’t prepared those basic requirements, then we’ll take that as a signal you might not care. You’ll note that there is tremendous license on setting your own tempo – keep it consistent and only as fast as you can guarantee accuracy. It’s not impressive to us to play a scale incorrectly at break-neck speed.
  2. Take time to tune! Playing in tune with good intonation is a major plus.
  3. While all except for tenor trombones will ultimately play on an All-Star instrument, make sure the instrument you audition on is clean and your valves are oiled and slides greased. We’ll expect you to take good care of our very expensive instruments. How we see you taking care of the one you own will be a strong signal on what we can expect!
  4. Pick an etude or solo excerpt that you can play well. Don’t simply pick the hardest if that is not your strong suit.
  5. Play musically! Precision is vital on the technical piece and musicality is our focus on the lyrical
  6. We’re very interested in identifying those students who have strong sight reading skills. This is where a few missteps on an etude or scale can be helped… If you can keep your composure and breeze through the sight reading, that will give us some vital information. All-Stars read through and learn a vast amount of musical literature in a short span of time. So, the ability to sight read well is a strong positive for selection and seating decisions.

We describe the atmosphere in our auditions as that similar to a private lesson.

  • We don’t want you to have anxiety, and we understand that if you want something really badly, it’s natural to be nervous.
  • Do approach your audition by being prepared, but don’t overdo the practice right before you come. We don’t want brass players to exhaust their chops!
  • Do a gentle warm up so you are loose and ready to play, and know your limits so that you can stop before your face gets sore. Buzz and make sure that you get the lactic acid out of your lips.

If selected, one benefit of All-Star participation is a direct increase in building incredible endurance – the right way that will not damage your embouchure.  Typically in a school band scenarion, the opportunities to play so much typically does not exist. Usually, brass players in school bands get nothing close to the work-out received in our rehearsals. You’ll do it the right way and with proper warm-up and warm-down techniques.

Take care of your lips! Use Chop-saver, DCT or other lip salves. Ask Dr. Aho for advice if you have problems – especially due to orthodontics. We’ve had students in the past who had several hours of music practice through school before coming to a demanding 2 hour All-Star rehearsal. There are many techniques we can show you to help prevent lip (and tongue) damage!

What we look for & what will it be like if accepted for membership?

  • While we admit there are some members who walk in with incredible talent and blow us away with very strong auditions, that is the not the norm. We are looking for some innate ability, but mostly potential and a very good attitude Being an All-Star requires a commitment to practice and preparation. It requires attending rehearsals and following directions.
  • Talent alone will not make a good All-Star member, and regardless of how esteemed a player one might be in their respective school, as an All-Star, everyone starts off in our organization with a level playing field
  • Seating is earned, and those who do not put in the work place themselves at risk of Challenge by another member who is willing to work just a little harder. It’s system where we truly Celebrate Excellence.
  • Doing one’s best is all we can ask – but we will clearly set the boundaries for what we consider is best. You’ll be amazed at how far your skills will soar in a season.

Moving Forward - you are now an All-Star. What are the practice expectations?

Aside from when we sight-read a new piece as a group, we expect our members to go home and practice their parts. We expect you to have a pencil in your hand to mark your scores – either when told by a director or staff member (sectionals usually) or when you notice you are personally making a mistake or need to flag a section.

Often our members take their music to their private teachers. We realize that some of our members do not study privately, and in these cases, often a band director is willing to provide some interim advice. Our staff is always willing to work with students experiencing difficulties or those who simply want to work hard to improve.

We routinely have sectional rehearsals to build cohesiveness and strengthen ensemble.

Students should not fear being singled out so long as they are doing their best.  Our rehearsals do involve pointing out mistakes, but always in a manner that is positive and encourages increased discipline and a focus on excellence.  But to get along, it means practicing and listening! One will only get embarrassed by the process if there is no improvement due to a lack of effort or poor attitude.  We do not expect our students to be the best performers when they walk into our band the first day, but we do expect the effort to try to be the best.

Our challenge process is also set up to keep some competiton in the group.  We have specific times that we allow challenges, and they are conducted very fairly (usually blind) so the individual who wins the challenge will do so without bias.