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· Registered
167 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I've already done the audition process for college and have been accepted and rejected. But now, after reading a few posts and just thinking about it, I have a question for you guys about what you think the Professor or whoever is "judging" your audition should be paying most attention to.

For example, one of the professors at a school I auditioned at (no names) was, what I call, a "drill sergeant" saxophone teacher. He loved his metronome. Perfect precision and technique was all he seemed to care about (I had a lesson with him a year prior to my audition, which is how I got this impression of him. Not after one 10 minute audition). Very robotic. He even got the metronome out during my audition and had me use it to play my scales to it because I was a bit off in tempo (not that great of a feeling and certainly didn't help me with my nerves).

Later, I felt like he wasn't listening to my pieces as much as just paying attention to my tempos and rhythmns.

I think, especially during an audition, the Professor or whoever is sitting in, should focus on things like musicality, tone, interpretation, interest (in an improv), etc. Not so much technique and whether I used the Bis B-flat key when I played a certain sixteenth note run in the 5th measure of my Ferling Etude.

I did not really like this professor, and after being rejected, it didn't bother me that much (ok, maybe a little bit, I liked the other faculty, but now I see it's more important I like the actual saxophone professor).

So what do you guys think? Is it all about technique and being a robot, or should that take a backseat to the other things I mentioned above, at least in an audition.

And to be fair, I am not a fan of technique (in the metronomically sense). I've never had perfect time, and I still play my chromatic scale a tiny bit slower when I get up to the high D,E, and F. But my teacher/professor helps me with that and is therefore obviously able to see other things about my playing to make up for the fact that, yes, I sometimes use the Bis B-flat key a bit too much. Bad habit!!!

Also, the "drill sergeant" professor is a very respectable player and I realize that. He actually was lead alto in the army band for 20 years or something. Go figure right? And the school he taught at was NOT an Eastman or anything as extreme as that where having perfect technique, on top of amazing musicality, tone, interpretation, etc. must go hand in hand. It was a very good music education school.

So what are your guys opinions?

or am I just finally venting about being rejected, 6 months later

...and yes I realize the importance of proper technique, I've been working on it ever since I didn't get in...

· Registered
213 Posts
Seems to me like the Professor was a little bit of a prick. However your goin' to run into teachers like that. I kinda had one like that as a private instructor. He was a real hard *** and told you straight up if you sounded bad. Over all I feel like Ive made a big jump, technically atleast. I guess being musical is how you use your technique.

However having perfect/flawless technique certainly allows for much more musicality and gets the message across alot clearer.

You sound from your post that you got into a different school, possibly one you like better, and if it wasnt your first choice then don't worry about it.

· Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
8,398 Posts
Ok. I'm going to be direct because i think that'll help you more rather than stroking your ego (which won't help you at all on this one). You're not a kid any more. I;m not at all familiar with audition practices in the US but i do believe that some of the requirements of good musicianship are the same anywhere.
The main issue he picked up on was your sense of time. He used the metronome to test that. I would see that as a legitimate thing to do and if you're not used to playing scales accurately with a metronome, at your college entry level, I think you should get used to it. You don't actually know that he didn't take account of other aspects of your playing. He should have done and probably did. I think your way forward is clear. Work hard to improve your time. It's not a case of being a robot. If you don't have a sure sense of beat and rhythm then you'll be in deep trouble later on. It's something you CAN work on. It's actually much better than some airy fairy thing like "mm..i wasn't sure about your interpretation of the final page, it seemed a little lacking in subtlety" or some such crap. You know what you have to do. Do it. Hope that helps. :)
[edit: Realised i didn't answer your question directly. Apologies. Here is my answer: his techniques for assessment and analysis seem quite legitimate. His areas of concern seem legitimate. Different teachers have different styles. At that level he doesn't need to be Mr Popular and shouldn't try to be.

· Out of Office
Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
30,168 Posts
I agree entirely that you must have good timing and be able to play technical stuff to a metronome. Slowing down for the harder bits is very bad - you should start at a tempo that you can sustain throughout.

I used to examine performance at University level, and we took into account lots of things, including technique, musicality, image and production. NB these were more performances than basic recitals so yes, the last two are important.

A problem comes with auditions if you expect the examiner to include "interest" with improv. How objective can that be? If its not objective , ie one person finds one thing interesting but another doesn't, it becomes a very unfair audition, so it's quite possible in the interest of fairness that more weight may be given to the more objective measurable criteria. (

· The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum
27,921 Posts
I agree with the above comments and just have this observation to add. You said you had taken a lesson from this teacher a year earlier and I gather he either made comment or at least observed at this lesson that you had problems playing with consistent tempo. It's very likely that part of his audition evaluation was to see if you had really addressed this weakness in your playing or ignored it in the ensuing twelve months between this lesson and the audition. As a potential teacher of yours this would be a factor in my decision whether or not to take you on as a student.

Also, we play tricks on ourselves. We're running on high octane during an audition and might overreact to some things. If he had made a point on tempo you might have fixated on that a bit and everything else he did (or didnt do) you put in that context when, in his mind and ears, it could have been quite a difference.
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