Con Tutta Forza

Experience

All-State Audition Resources

ExperienceAlejandro Guardia1 Comment

This page is dedicated to sharing all the resources I have found on the internet to help students and teachers with ensuring a successful audition. Feel free to share this with anyone you know that needs this information. The audition requirements button will send you to the FBA page where all the individual etude requirements are stated. The Youtube playlist is constantly updated with videos of people sharing tips or playing through etudes to help students in their preparation. 

A few thoughts on auditions...

ExperienceAlejandro Guardia1 Comment

After being on a few audition panels recently, I thought I would share some ideas on what to do and not do when you go into an audition. 

Do - Be Early!

This gives you time to warm-up your instrument and allow you to get in the right mindset so you can do the absolute best you can. 

DON'T - Show Up Too Early

Showing up too early can make your mind wander or even worse you might warm-up or practice too much and waste your chops. 

  • Rule of thumb:

    • Show up with enough time to warm-up properly, locate the room, and perform. An hour to an hour and a half suffices for Honor Band auditions depending on the player.

    • Get to audition room 10-15 minutes early to give yourself time to find your audition location and be ready. 

DO - Be Courteous and Respectful

Say hello and ask any important questions you have at the very beginning. Remember, Someone is taking time our of their day to listen to you play.

DON'T - Ask to Play Something Again

The people in front of you are trained to adjudicate what you know. Often they will know whether or not you know something before you make a mistake. Replaying an excerpt or scale only lengthens the process and is unfair to all the other people auditioning.

DO - Take Your Time When Performing

There is no rush to play everything through. We are often nervous and just want to get it over with, but most mistakes happen when we rush through things. Take a second and think about what you are playing before you play it. Getting into the mindset of what you are doing and will help you play with intent and confidence.
If you have a question, try your best to ask before you play the excerpt. Asking in between multi-part excerpts will often break the thought process of the listener and might make them forget all the great things you just played.

DON'T - Come in Looking Like You Just Rolled Out of Bed

Think of an audition as an interview. It is a professional environment where we need to dress with the intent to be professional. Some of these auditions are across a large area with many schools. Try your best not to wear anything that will indicate which school you attend. Clothing with your school logo can create an unconscious bias and might work for or against you. If you want to have the best experience possible, dress for it. 

DO - Make Yourself Comfortable Before Playing Anything

The goal is to play your best so make sure you are in the best position to do so. 

DON'T -  Talk About How Nervous You Are

I have a sincere belief that your level of nervousness correlates with how prepared you are. The more comfortable you are with the material, the less nervous you will be. If you talk about how nervous you are it will show and affect your performance negatively. 

No matter the outcome remember the fact that you did something that most people fear more than deadly snakes. Performing is an act that exposes your vulnerabilities to a lot of individuals. In our minds, we often think we are judged by the imperfections in the art we chose to share. More often than not, the audience is in awe of the at that is taking place in front of them. The sooner we realize that is not our vulnerability on display but the art that we create, the faster we become comfortable with performance. I see it more as having a passionate, intense conversation with someone as opposed to giving a big speech in front of a bunch of people. It's probably not a bad idea to think that right before you perform that the experience will be better than being in a room full of deadly snakes or any other fear you might have. It might put things into perspective. Any way you look at it, you are much braver than those who decided to sign up and not show up, and that counts for a lot and is an important quality to have as you move into the real world. 
 

Feel free to add your own tips or experiences down below. 

Story Time: Mofongo Relleno

ExperienceAlejandro Guardia1 Comment

Happy New Year everyone!

This blog post will be a little less structured and not necessarily as educational as my past posts, but it is an opportunity for me to share some stories of my time as a musician. These will be sprinkled in between the other content. Enjoy!

THE LEGEND OF MOFONGO RELLENO

The story begins during my senior year at the University of South Florida. It was my second year at USF and I had been really inspired and encouraged by my studio mates to write music for the Tuba.  In the fall of that year, I had composed and premiered Song Without Words for Tuba Quartet and I had caught the bug! I loved the process, writing a piece late at night and coming into the practice room with my friends and play it the next day. For a composer, nothing could be better.  With this reinvigorated compositional spirit I ended up writing 2 more pieces (Facade for Solo Tuba and Excursions for Tuba Quartet) and had them performed at my Euphonium performance Recital a few months later. Those pieces were very well received and I learned a lot from working with a Soloist (Rachel Matz) and the Big Boys Tuba quartet.  

After my recital, I had decided to back off a little bit before the big summer writing season and just focused on graduating and getting things ready to move back to Miami. During that semester, I only played in Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Tuba Ensemble, and went to my other classes. In preparation for out final concert of the semester, my professor, the always awesome Jay Hunsberger, approached me and asked me if I had any other tuba ensemble music that we could use to fill out the program. I was really excited, but there was a problem. I hadn't written anything for Tuba much less Tuba ensemble in about 3-4 months and all of it was performed at my recital. So I did what any smart person would do and responded: "No I don't have anything, but I can try to put something together." Normally this wouldn't be too big of a deal but PLOT TWIST: the concert was about 2-3 weeks away. 

Over the next few days, I tried and tried to come up with something that would mark the occasion, my last Tuba Ensemble concert, and something that is written specifically for that ensemble that was full of friends and colleges that I've grown to know and love over the last 2 years. With that kind of pressure, nothing ended up being good enough. Then one night after playing some Donkey Kong Country 3 (it was 2011 and don't judge me) with some friends, I had Dixie Kong's stage ending guitar riff stuck in my head for hours. This inspired me to write what is now the B section of the tune and I thought, "Why not write something fun and not so serious?". I decided to write something that reflected my personality and came up with a 7\4 Latin Rock Tuba Ensemble piece. Don't ask me how that happened, it just did. The name Mofongo Relleno reflects the juxtaposed nature of it. The piece essentially wrote itself and about 2-3 hours later I had the bulk of the (if not the whole) piece written. For those of you who don't know me personally, I am fairly quiet and reserved in person but due to the duality of my being a gigging Trombone player in Miami for a majority of my 20's while still studying and engaging in my passion that is the Euphonium and Classical Music, I can be fairly loud and extreme when it comes to playing the horn. I was usually found adding lip trills, lip turns, playing things in absurd registers for fun. It was and is something enjoy just due to the craziness of it. This piece showcases that and better yet, forces my peers to do those things too! That's a win in my book. 

So after I wrote the piece in a few hours, I brought the piece to next the Tuba Ensemble rehearsal and with the exception of a couple of moans and groans from having to play Doits, Lip turns, having to listen to me play a Double F at the end, etc. it came together very well. Two weeks later we performed it as the last piece on the program and it was met with the applause of a very entertained audience. Since then, the piece has been performed a number of times in Universities around the United States. I have Jay Hunsberger to thank for not only allowing me to unleash this madness on the world but supporting my composition endeavors during my time at USF. 

Moral of the Story: Always take an opportunity to create if it is presented to you. It might seem crazy at the moment but the circumstances may push you to create something special!

 

If you have performed Mofongo Relleno or any of my other works, please write a comment below and let me know if you enjoyed it. I'd love to hear feedback and see where the piece has been!

You can find Mofongo Relleno in the Potenza Music link up in the menu above or though the Potenza Music Website.