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Auditioning – an introduction

Develop your skills at auditioning with expert advice from musicians with the U.S. Marine Band.

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Video transcript

- Audition. - Audition. - Audition. - Audition. - Audition. (bright, inspiring horns) (patriotic fanfare) - I actually first heard about the band when I was nine years old. They came through my hometown as part of their annual concert tour. - To see them play at such a high level with their uniforms and the music they played, it just did something to me, and I said, "Someday, I gotta be part of that ensemble." (patriotic fanfare) - I had always kind of thought about the Marine Band as being somewhere I would like to end up. - That was the goal, you know, to get into the Marine Band. - I actually grew up listening to recordings of this band, you know, all throughout middle school and high school, and when I saw that there was an opening in my final year of grad school, I knew that I had to take the audition. - I actually took the audition for this band three times. The first two times I took the audition, I made the final round, and the third time, I won the audition. - I became aware of the band when I was a graduate student in Philadelphia, when a house mate of mine auditioned for the band, actually. And then, I auditioned for the band about two years after that. - I took my first audition back in 2005, and I was actually in the semi-finals for that audition, did not win the job, was very disappointed in that, but fortunately, there were subsequent auditions in later years. But unfortunately, I did not advance in those. So after four or five tries, I finally won a spot with the Marine Band on piccolo. - We hold auditions much like many orchestra do these days. We start with preliminary rounds and advance people on to semifinal, and often finals rounds as well. All of our auditions are screened up until the last round that everyone plays, and the list of excerpts varies for each instrument. But it generally consists of band excerpts, as well as orchestral music that people would commonly be studying in school or in their professional careers. - My audition was quite unique, actually, when auditioning for the Marine Band. At the time, one had to come in without preparing any particular excerpts. It was all sight reading. So when we came to the audition, we were told to be ready to play band repertoire, as well as orchestral repertoire, and be ready to perform it. - Sight reading is a big part of what we do in our various performances and activities in the Marine Band. You have to be to pick up repertoire and play it at a very high level in a very short amount of time at times. So that was one really unique aspect to walk into this room and have it be completely silent. You're behind a screen, you can't see any of the people who are listening to you play, and to just have the proctor walk over to you and place this piece of music that you've never seen before on your stand. And you have a minute to look over it, and then launch into it and try to make what you can out of it. That was a really memorable moment. I can't really tell you how it went (laughs) I don't have much memory of the actual piece itself or anything like that. - It was 24 years ago, but I think about a hundred people there that day. And I was assigned a number, and eventually, I was the last person standing, and I'm very grateful for that. - I thought, "Okay, I'm probably not going to win this, "but I'll just take the audition and see what happens," and out of 96 people, myself and my colleague, Tim, also won on the same day, actually. - It's a very long day. It can be a very competitive process. I remember going into the room in the morning and seeing the old band hall, or orchestra hall rather, filled with saxophonists warming up. It was very loud, this cacophonous, you know, that sort of sound. - It was over the course of two days. We had three different rounds, and I give a lot of credit to our musicians who run the auditions. It's very smooth process, and I'm really fortunate that this is the place where everything came together. - My dad was so proud that I joined the Marine Corps. He was in the Marine Corps in the late '60's, and he really wanted me to get this job as a Marine Musician. - It was always my dream to be a member of the President's Own, and often to this day, I still can't believe that I get to do it. - Well, it's an experience that you never forget. (patriotic fanfare)