Brass Audition FAQs
- Why should I try out? I KNOW I'll never make it.
- I hear this question/comment more than you could ever imagine. As a matter of fact, prior to the 2003 season, I was doing a clinic for a band in Tennessee and suggested to one of the Trumpet players he consider auditioning for the Blue Devils. He immediately blushed and said "No way! I would never make it." My reaction? "HELLO! I'm on the BD brass staff and just told you to audition!" This person went on to audition and subsequently make the brass section (just like I thought he would). So, my advice to anyone who would like to one day be a member of the Blue Devils is to GO FOR IT! Like with many things in life, you will never know if you don't try, and there's nothing wrong with taking a chance once in a while.
- What should I expect at my playing audition with the Blue Devils?
- In a nutshell, your playing audition will last around 5 to 10 minutes and be in a room with just you and one or two members of the Blue Devil brass staff. We will ask you a few simple questions such as your age and marching experience to "break the ice" and get things rolling. DON'T BE NERVOUS! Although you will have had time to warm-up on your own before the audition, we will give you another minute to re-warm and prepare for your audition. From there we will ask to hear the "Audition Exercises" which will give us a good idea of your tone, flexibility and articulation style. If you are interested in a lead spot, we will also ask you to demonstrate your range. Once the basic technique is out of the way, we will listen to you play about 2 minutes of prepared material which should consist of both technical and lyrical playing. A lot of potential members choose excerpts from one or two different pieces to demonstrate these contrasting styles. Finally, we will ask you a few more questions and that's it, painless!
- What should I bring?
First of all, BRING YOUR MUSIC! It sounds ridiculous, but you'd be surprised with some of the things that have happened! There is no need to bring a music stand, we will provide one for you. I highly suggest that you bring your own mouthpiece. You will be able to borrow one of ours if needed, but my experience has been that it’s much more comfortable to audition on your own. Now, to instruments...
IMPORTANT! If you are coming to one of the the non-Concord auditions, you will need to bring your own instrument.
If you are coming to the Concord audition...
Trumpet players – I suggest you bring your own horn and mouthpiece. You will of course be able to borrow one of ours if needed, but like the mouthpiece comment earlier, I've found it's more comfortable to audition on your own instrument.
French Horn/Mellophone players – If you plan on playing a French Horn during your audition, you NEED to bring your own horn. Because we perform on Mellophones during the season, we will also ask you to play a few notes on one of our Mellophones as we will need to check your tone and such on that instrument. IMPORTANT! We use Mellophone mouthpieces with our Mellophones and DO NOT allow French Horn mouthpieces with an adapter. If you play Mellophone, it's up to you whether or not you bring your own horn. We will of course have enough instruments available for you to borrow.
Baritone/Euphonium/Tuba/Trombone players – If you plan on playing a Trombone during your audition, you NEED to bring your own horn. Because we perform on Euphoniums during the season, please be prepared to also play a few notes (mainly scales) on one of our instruments as we will need to check your finger control and dexterity. If you play Baritone, Euphonium or Tuba, it's up to you whether or not you bring your own horn. We will of course have enough instruments available for you to borrow. I suggest you use ours (with YOUR mouthpiece) as these instruments are difficult to travel with. Please remember we only have Euphoniums (no Baritones) and they take large shank mouthpieces.
- What kinds of things are you looking for with my audition?
- We look for all of the basic things -- tone quality, flexibility, finger dexterity and range, but also your ability to control articulation, intervallic control, overall awareness of your horn and MANY other things. Outside of your musical talents, we also look at your personality, work ethic and ability to respond to corrective criticism (like you would have to during the season) as these are just as important when push comes to shove in the heat of the battle!
- I'm having trouble finding an audition piece, what do you suggest?
- First off, please do not bring selections from your recent marching band show, wind ensemble concert or jazz band literature. We would like to hear pieces that are written for solo instrument. If you take private lessons, ask your teacher for some suggestions, they should have a plethora of pieces that would suit your individual talents and abilities. If you don't take private lessons, I suggest contacting local music stores, high school band directors or college music directors as they would also have several great suggestions. I have also included in this packet several suggestions for each instrument. Please refer to that section for more information.
- Do you have any "Inside information" to help me prepare for my audition?
- The most important piece of information I can give ANYONE auditioning for the Blue Devils is to come prepared! Take the audition as seriously as you would a final exam (or at least the way you SHOULD prepare for a final), otherwise we'll never know your true talent. Remember, you are auditioning for one of the best brass sections in the marching activity, and although you don't have to be the best player in the world to be a part of our organization, you DO need to have pride and dedication to your instrument. This is a huge event in most people's lives, take full advantage of it!
- Will I find out my status by the end of the audition weekend?
- One of three things will happen at the end of the audition day/weekend. #1) We will congratulate you and accept you into the Blue Devil brass section. #2) We will inform you that you have passed the first step and will be invited to our first full corps camp in January. It will be at this camp that we begin learning the technique program and show music with the entire brass section. We will also make ALL final decisions on your acceptance at this camp. In other words, you will know if you are accepted or not by the end of the January camp. #3) We will unfortunately inform you that we cannot offer you a spot in the Blue Devil brass section. This is always the most difficult thing for me to do as I wish I could accept everyone that auditions. For most, there will be more audition years left and this one can be looked at as a learning experience to better prepare for future auditions.
- Do I have to move to the Concord area if accepted?
Most people think that in order to be a member of the Blue Devils brass section you HAVE to move to Concord in January and put all facets of your life on hold. This is NOT true! Our attendance policy has changed over the past several years and is now VERY consistent with the other top drum corps in the country. Here are the 2 scenarios that I see the majority of our members committing to each year.
Scenario #1 – Continue going to school and work like normal and travel to Blue Devil camps. Once accepted into the Blue Devil brass section, you only have to attend monthly camps during January, February, March and April. During that time (4 months), you would spend a total of 12 days in Concord for mandatory rehearsals. Once May rolls around, your attendance will be determined by your school schedule. If you are NOT attending school as of May 1st, you will be required to attend all rehearsals beginning in May, so it is highly suggested that you move to the Concord area then.
If you ARE in school as of May 1, we will create an individually based attendance policy based on your last day of school. Once school is out, you will need to move to Concord immediately as we begin "all-day every-day" rehearsals mid-May. We COMPLETELY understand that some schools end after mid-May, so no worries. This is why I say we will create an individually based attendance policy JUST for you.
Scenario #2 – Move to Concord, get a local job and attend classes at a local college. Some members CHOOSE to take a semester off of school and live in California for 6 months. Most (if not all) of these members move into an apartment with other BD members in similar situations to save on the costs of living.
So as you can see, being a member of the Blue Devils brass section is easier than ever (well, once you're accepted that is). I wish you the very best of luck and look forward to seeing you at a Blue Devil audition later this fall!