With Doug's permission, I am forwarding his post to the Trumpet-l, the horn list and the Tuba list.
>Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 07:54:07 -0500
>From: Douglas Yeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>To: "Trombones and related issues forum." <email@example.com>
>Subject: I was tortured....
Call Amnesty International, the Red Cross, the United Nations. Get the lawyers! Call out the National Guard! Somebody PLEASE help me!
I was tortured yesterday.
VERY cruel and VERY unusual punishment...
For MANY hours.
NEVER in my life have I been subjected to such pain and suffering. I may never be the same.
I escaped, though, and lived to tell the story.
So here it is...
All afternoon yesterday, I was a member of the Boston Symphony audition committee hearing audition tapes for the BSO's fourth/utility trumpet vacancy.
We heard 92 tapes.
It was torture. PURE and UTTER TORTURE.
I cannot tell you how many tapes we advanced (that information is confidential, but readers should know that our audition system allows the BSO to advance directly to the first live round - without a tape - players who have jobs in major orchestras and those who have finished in the finals of previous BSO auditions for the same instrument - this we have already done. Our system also allows anyone whose tape was rejected to come and play live anyway, but they are strongly discouraged from doing so.), but it was fewer than all my fingers. I cannot tell you how many I personally voted for, but if I were a fish, you could count them on my toes.
What I CAN pass on to you from this horrible experience is this (I know this is a trombone list, but I think the lessons from yesterday's experience with trumpet players apply universally):
1) LISTEN to your tape before you send it in. I'm convinced that 99% of those tapes we heard were not listened to before being sent in. If the person listening to the tape had listened to it first, it never would have been sent in.
2) However, if you DID listen to it and send it in, most of you need a SERIOUS ear cleaning as to what is good. See my FAQ on performance standards at http://www.yeodoug.com/standards.html for a starter. If you don't know what good is, you're in the wrong business.
3) Realize that this tape is REALLY, REALLY important. Most of the playing we heard was simply pathetic. Dreadful. Embarrassing. When you audition for the Boston Symphony, why in the world do you think that such poor playing would actually have a chance? Did you do it for the "experience" - if so, that was a waste of postage and of our time - you can get the "experience" by just making the tape; sending it in was an exercise in wishful thinking.
4) The tape quality was uniformly poor. When our tape guidelines which we send out ask that you have your maximum volume peak at 0 db, why don't you do that? Why is nearly every tape oversaturated?
5) MAKE YOUR FIRST EXCERPT PERFECT. It's a no brainer. If your first excerpt isn't great, the committee isn't going to be listening to your fifth excerpt.
6) PLAY IN TUNE. The first excerpt required on the tape was the call to Beethoven Leonore Overture #3. 4 notes. B flat arpeggios. 95% of players couldn't play it in tune. Unbelievable.
7) PLAY WITH GOOD RHYTHM. The committee knows that when you make a tape, you can record the excerpt 1 million times in order to get a good one. So WHY in the world would you send a tape with something that is not correct rhythmically? Given that the recorded quality is so poor on most tapes, all we can really tell is whether you're playing in tune and in time. If you don't have those two covered, you're not getting an invitation to the live round.
I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. But it NEVER ceases to amaze me how many people actually think their playing is at a very high level when it is really at a very low level. Many people's ears must simply be trained to hear themselves as being "good" - and they need a box of Q-tips.
We WANT to hire a great player. We listened to every tape with anticipation that maybe this was the ONE who would end up as a colleague. But in nearly every case we were sorely disappointed.
Please, players, do not fall behind the "I can't make a good tape" excuse. It's not that difficult. It doesn't have to be CD quality. We ask that tapes include information on the kind of equipment used (recorder and microphones). Sometimes the best equipment made the worst tape - it was obvious when a person didn't spend enough time with the setup, level adjustment, room choice, etc. And the professional studios people hired often made absolutely dreadful tapes (about 20% of the tapes we heard were professionally done). But more than the quality of the tape is the quality of playing. The scary thing about what happened yesterday is the depressing thought that people actually sent in tapes they thought had a chance! Wow...
I've written about this extensively in my website in my big 14 chapter article on taking symphony auditions at http://www.yeodoug.com/yeoauditions.html I don't need to repeat it all here on the list, read it yourself if you're interested.
I'd better call the doctor, I think I need some more pain killer....
* Douglas Yeo *
* Bass Trombonist, Boston Symphony Orchestra *
* Music Director, The New England Brass Band *
* firstname.lastname@example.org *
* http://www.yeodoug.com *
* <>< *