Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to Be a Pianist’s Best Friend: Tips for Organizing Your Audition Music

There’s a lot that goes into preparing for an audition. You have to practice, stage your arias, format your resume, and pick out the perfect audition outfit. One thing that can easily be overlooked is your accompanist folder, and that can make or break your audition! Here are a few tips that can help make your audition run a bit smoother (and make your pianist love you!):

  • Never use plastic sleeves for your music. They are difficult to turn, and can reflect the lovely fluorescent lighting and make the music hard to read. Also, this should go without saying, but make sure your pages are double-sided! And, for the love of God, when you are copying your music and arranging it in your folder, be hyper-aware of page numbers and page order. Nothing is worse than finding out you’re missing a page when you’re about to walk into the audition room!

  • Label each piece. A great way to do this is to use colored tab dividers with the composer name or the title of the aria so that your pianist can flip to your next piece without you having to walk over and find it for them. I also like to have a repertoire list right in front when you open my binder so that my pianist can have a run-down of what I’m offering.

  • Clearly mark cuts and don’t be shy about taking the time to explain them to your pianist. I like to use a bracket to mark the beginning of the cut, I make a big (but neat) x through any stanzas that are cut, and then I draw a bold bracket where the cut ends. And for good measure, I put a nice, neat star above the measure where we pick back up after the cut. You can also cover any measures that are cut with paper when you are making your photocopies, so that all that is left is white space, as opposed to a crossed-out measure. That way, your page looks even tidier.

  • Mark breaths and tempo changes. This one is easy to forget about – if you’re anything like me, you mark the crap out of your music when you’re learning a piece, so you have to make a clean photocopy for your pianist so that they can actually read it. Don’t forget to mark your breaths and tempo changes in the vocal and piano line so that your pianist will be right with you.

Now that the logistics are out of the way, don’t forget to introduce yourself and greet your pianist warmly when you offer them your music. They’re on your team, and you want to connect with them before you embark on your 5-10 minute collaboration! And make sure to thank them on your way out of the room. Chances are, they are either a contracted pianist in your area (which means they might play for you again someday), or a coach or the music director for the auditioning company! Taking the time to make your music neat and easy to navigate not only helps your pianist, it helps you!

Image courtesy of amfroey at