Moving Forward After an Unsuccessful Audition

by Mitchell Estrin

You prepared night and day for months. You did everything right. You read all the books and took extra lessons. Yet, you didn't advance, get first chair, or get accepted at the audition. Your confidence is low and you start considering doing something else besides playing your instrument, which is all you've ever wanted to do. Now what?

First, and foremost, remember that an unsuccessful audition does not invalidate your worth as a human being. It only means on this particular day, this particular judge or audition committee didn't select you. 

Remember the big picture of your place in the world. How lucky are musicians to be able to pursue their talents and aspirations? There are many people who have a much different plight. Just pick up a newspaper or turn on CNN to remind you.

Keep in mind how auditions are all subjective and results are solely based on who was listening. Maybe they just weren't buying what you were selling. Even if you played perfectly while standing on your head!

Now, here is a very key point. Instead of thinking "I lost," analyze the experience for strengths and weaknesses. Through thoughtful and honest evaluation of your performance, you might just learn a few things that could help you in the future! It is what you learn from unsuccessful experiences and making the necessary adjustments that will ultimately lead to success. This is a mantra followed by the most successful sports coaches and is certainly applicable to anyone who performs.


Get back to "music" as soon as possible. 

Playing music with friends or in a rewarding ensemble will serve to remind you why you go through all of the many psychological challenges associated with taking auditions. Listen to your favorite music to reinforce your passion for playing.

Engage with your favorite pet. 

The unconditional love from an animal will help you to feel better!

Lastly, and not until you are ready, get back in the practice room. 

Start the process of rebuilding your confidence and faith in your abilities. Hit those scales with a vengeance! They are the best medicine for you. Start working on new repertoire. 


Never forget the odds are heavily against you at any audition. Only one person will usually walk away happy. Keep your faith, keep preparing, and persevere!  Audition technique is a learned skill - just like articulation. Keep "practicing" this skill so eventually you will succeed. And don't ever stop believing in yourself!

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