Ace your next audition...

By Nicole Wilson  -  17 June 2016

First published for Encore Music 15/7/16

I still remember the terrifying moment when I graduated - having looked forward  to it for 4 years during my study at the Royal Academy of Music, I realised that now it was make or break time. Was I good enough at the violin? Could I keep up with the pros who had been playing the repertoire for 20 years? And most scarily for me, could I even get past the audition stage? Performance nerves had been a huge problem for me since the age of 12 and now it wasn’t just a case of pride, it was a case of survival. 


At the time I left music college, only 4% of graduates were getting jobs playing the instrument they’d been studying. That was a shocking statistic and I was acutely aware of the intense competition I was facing. Of course as we all know it’s got even harder recently and music graduates now need to have iron determination to break through those seemingly impenetrable barriers to get a break in the business.

Jump forward 20 years and I view the whole business very differently. When I played my first audition, all I thought about was not making mistakes, nailing the hard passages, playing the right speed despite the adrenalin coursing through my veins and above all giving the impression of a mixture of confidence and friendliness as I knew these musicians were looking for someone they would have to sit next to for potentially 40 years… 

Now having sat on innumerable audition panels, I can usually tell within 5 minutes (often less) when someone plays whether they’re a potential candidate or not. Panels are usually made up of at least 5 people and although I haven’t always agreed with fellow panel members about how many players we can give trials to, we are almost always in total agreement about who should not get a trial. It’s reassuring for us as musicians when we have the agreement of our colleagues as, believe it or not, even the most hardened professionals will worry to death whether they’ve missed someone wonderful because of nerves or somebody just having a bad day.

I have been inundated as a principal violinist with young violinists wanting help with preparing for their auditions. What is the magic formula for being awarded an elusive trial? What advice can I give them? Are they going for the wrong sort of jobs? It is happily advice I feel confident enough to give but unfortunately time and again I don’t have the time or rehearsal space in London to help all of these young professionals. And so my idea for a game changing company was born…

Here at Musical Orbit we link up young professionals with the movers and shakers in the profession through the magic of the internet. Through their home computers, any young musician can have their own live, one to one session with a principal player of any orchestra (or a tutti player if it suits them better) and find out before they go into the most important auditions of their professional lives, what they need to work on. Our musicians have that valuable insight which can make all the difference in preparation for these stressful events. Our professionals will work with you on any aspect of your audition preparation, technique, repertoire or any other problems you face from the privacy of your home. Because it’s online (our video conferencing platform is extremely easy to use and our helpline is available if you have any connection problems) you can warm up right to the minute before your lesson starts and also record the session for your own private practice purposes. Of course, you’re also saving on travel time and money.

If you’re not comfortable playing through your computer and you want to play in person to the musician, you can travel to their location. We have professional musicians throughout the UK and more and more are joining every week. If there’s someone in particular you’d like to learn with, let us know and we’ll endeavour to arrange it for you.

 It’s a struggle making it in the music business but it’s a journey that will leave you richer for the difficulties you’ll encounter on the way. Success is all that more sweet if you’ve had to strive for it. If you want to have a career in this most magical world, get the help and advice from the right people, make good connections and above all, don’t give up trying… 



Drop us an email here at info@musicalorbit.com to discuss the kind of musician who could help you... 

About Nicole Wilson

Principal freelance violinist in London, ex London Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera, Nicole is also a CD producer, TV/Radio presenter and founder of Musical Orbit.

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