This Challenge ran during the summer of 2015, but can still be followed at your own pace for any audition!
On November 12, the New York Philharmonic will hold the final round of auditions for its four violin openings. Those violinists competing there that day will be among the most accomplished in the world. They will have gone through a grueling preparation process in order to ensure that they play their best when it counts: on stage at Avery Fisher Hall. In order to survive the ordeal, they must be in the best playing shape of their lives, peaking at the right moment, just as Olympic athletes must plan for years in order to perform on one special day.
Have you ever wondered what this preparation looks like? What it feels like? It can be all-consuming, but it’s exhilarating as well. There’s no better feeling than looking back over months of work, flexing your violin muscles, and enjoying the best playing of your life. And each time you go through the process, the “challenge”, your work builds on the challenges that you’ve accomplished before.
Everyone knows that you have to practice to win a spot in an orchestra like the New York Phil. But the whole process is typically cloaked in mystery. You only find out about an orchestral opening if you read the union paper, the International Musician. The audition material is kept under wraps until a couple of months before the audition. Only those who send in a professional resume get access to it. Even the exact dates of the audition may not be widely known.
But this time, the New York Phil has taken the extraordinary step of making all of this information public. It’s right there on their website as a PDF: Section Violin Audition Packet! This packet gives you not only the relevant dates (deadlines, prelims, semis, finals) but outlines the process and even gives you a copy of all the audition material.
You may not feel like an elite violinist. In fact, you may know that you’ll never audition for the New York Philharmonic. But wouldn’t you like to challenge yourself with the same process that the elites go through, just this once? When preliminary auditions begin on October 26, you could stand along with them, knowing that you were in the best shape of your life, ready to play all the audition material that the New York Phil demands.
But how will you get there? Just what is the challenge that the elites put themselves through in order to stand on that stage? I will show you, because I’ve been through it many times. I’ve taken big auditions and I’ve also judged them.
New York’s preliminary auditions begin on Monday, October 26, and we’ll call that week ZERO. Counting backward to July 20, we have 14 weeks. Just over three months. That’s the ideal time to spend preparing for an audition. You get to shore up technical weaknesses before stepping into the fire. You get to go through all the material in detail, then set it aside to mature. You rotate your hard work, much as farmers rotate their crops to avoid taxing the land. Then, you give everything a second look before building the endurance necessary to get through it all in one go. You taper at the end so that weeks 1 and ZERO are as enjoyable as they can be. And you walk out relaxed and confident that nothing can shake you.
My challenge to you is this: register for the natesviolin New York Phil Audition Challenge and start earning points. Each week here at natesviolin.com we’ll take a detailed look at one of the audition selections: six orchestral excerpts and one Mozart concerto movement in all. If you post a YouTube video of yourself playing the selection, you’ll earn points. I’ll select my favorite video from the week and that person earns bonus points. Over the 14 weeks we’ll have a chance to take a second look at each selection, and I’ll not only award the normal points for posting and favorites, but more bonus points for most improved! The last video you post will be a single take of all the material straight through. And in the end I’ll hand out bonus points for those who completed every step of the Challenge. The winner will get three months free at the Nathan Cole School of Violin at ArtistWorks, a $90 value.
And don’t worry if you’re joining late! I’ve won auditions on less than three months’ preparation, so it can certainly be done. Just join in and hit the ground running.
Now I can guide you through the Challenge through my weekly posts here at natesviolin.com. But the only way to get personalized, one-on-one guidance through the Challenge is to work with me at ArtistWorks. Once you’re a subscriber there, you will post your videos not to YouTube but to the ArtistWorks Video Library, where only other subscribers can see it. You’ll also get a personal video response from me, letting you know exactly what to work on and how. You’ll be amazed at the progress you make when you have targeted goals each week. And you’ll see the feedback that I give to others taking the Challenge.
And now, on to our first week: Week 14!