There are plenty of articles out there about how to prepare your best for juries and auditions, so this won't be one of them. However, I would like to offer a few extra details that would really brighten the experience for both the performer and the panel. These are concepts I consider basic and mandatory but I am noticing that, over the last decade, many of these details have been increasingly less visible in students.
I'd like to see a proud return of the following to every performance at auditions and juries:
- Arrive early. Sometimes auditions and juries run late, but sometimes they run ahead of schedule as well. Be there, warmed up and ready to go, at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time.
- Dress appropriately. Even if you normally play your music in a club wearing ripped jeans and a leather jacket, you should not play your jury in this get-up. This is about showing that you honor and respect the jury process and understand that this opportunity to perform and possibly receive feedback is meaningful to you. This attitude of respect for every element of your presentation will serve you well in life, especially when it comes to times when you have to do something important like a job interview. I do understand that artists are unique and deserve to have a unique form of expression that includes their attire, but reserve the time for that expression for your own personal performances. Use your jury time to practice for future job interviews and networking experiences.
- Make eye contact with the jury and greet them as you enter. I really think most of the times this doesn't happen it is because of nerves, but once again, we are practicing here for life. We are practicing how to make a connection with others. Eye contact and a basic greeting are two biggies in this department. You will need these skills for all future successes, not just for performance.
- Bring copies of your music for the panel. Even if the panel doesn't use the copies you provide, it's a basic courtesy to offer them a chance to read along. They honestly aren't attempting to "find" mistakes by reading along; they may not all know the piece you are about to perform and seeing it helps some people understand it better. Don't be intimidated by offering your music. It actually lends an element of security to your performance, and an element of wanting to connect and share with the panel.
- If scales are required of you, practice them with the same dedication you use when you practice your jury piece. In times of stress it's easy to get caught up skipping basics in favor of the "big" piece. But skipping over your basics does three things: 1.) It sets you up for a moment of discomfort in your jury performance that you would probably rather not experience, 2.) It can lower your grade/result quite a bit if you tank on your scales, and 3.) It sends a message to the panel that your practice and preparation are not all-encompassing. Scales are the building blocks of your technique, and you should spend enough time on them that it's no sweat to toss one off for the jury. It will serve you well in every respect to be covering all the bases.
- Bring water onto the stage if you get a little nervous. Really, it's OK! We all want you to do your best and if swigging water helps, by all means swig away. :)
- Be sure that all technology needed (play-alongs, electronic accompaniment, amplification, etc.) is in place and functional. Please test (and re-test) your technology before (and on) jury day! Also unless you are told or have previously arranged otherwise, please assume that you need to bring everything needed including connection cables. It can be so nerve-wracking to spend your jury time running around trying to make your technology work.
- If you receive any feedback or comments, receive them thankfully and with an open mind. It's wonderful when the jury will reach out to make a suggestion or comment. Consider it your luck that they care enough to offer some help. Even if you don't agree with the comment, receive it as a gift of support and assistance, which is truly the spirit in which it is being given.
- Thanks all around. It's hard sometimes when nerves may be getting in the way, but we need to remember to thank not only those who perform with us (accompanists, etc.) but also the people who have listened to us. A quick and sincere thank you (remember to make that eye contact) will suffice.
Teachers, please chime in if you have anything to add to this list.