It's really simple. You see the post in the union paper or the internet post, send your resume (with the option of having a reference vouch for you if denied), get the list, listen to the music, prepare the music with the trends, traditions and personal interpretation, and present it in mocks and at the audition itself in all rounds. So, what's the big deal? The fact is that this is all you can do, there's no hack to winning. There's only the preparation and the presentation. Yea, there are things that make it easier, but at the end of the day, all we can and have to do is perform our interpretations our way, as well as we can in that moment, and hope for the best. What I do to prepare is focus on the musical character as much as possible. Nothing we do should be taken out of the context of the music. If it's soft, it's in the context of that piece, not just as soft as humanly possible to sound impressive. Sure it is, but if it's not the piece, then it's not appealing. The key for me is that my daily practice is based on this principle. I'm always playing with music, or with a character in mind, so when I prepare audition excerpts it's nothing different.
Yes, you have to practice, you have to know the music, you have to practice playing in front of people, and if there is a method or system of doing that that works for you, go for it. Just know that even the most efficient ways of preparing cannot win the job. It certainly will help your chances and give you more comfort going into it, but winning is not guaranteed. As much as we can prepare, there's nothing we can do to know exactly what will happen and how. The best we can do is control what we can and be flexible with everything else. Personally, I have very specific things that I do within pieces, but depending on the hall, the order of pieces and the atmosphere of the moment, they may change. You can't rely on the systems or the hacks. You have to do what's in your control to do and adapt to the rest. This probably is not what you were expecting to read about auditions, but for me this way of thinking relieved the stress they would give me. That and the mental perceptions and principles that I discuss in other blogs. In a nut shell, prepare as much as you can, with as many variables as you can. If a certain system works for you then that's great, there's freedom on the other side of discipline. Just know and accept that they may change in the moment.
People usually tell me that this simplistic view is too good to be true, but in essence this is the way most if not all of the current professionals say that they prepared the music their way, and performed their way, unapologetically, adapting to circumstances and making changes as directed. This may or may not be the "norm" these days, but it definitely works for me and people I know. Again, we have to know the music inside and out, but that alone, and the systems that allow us to do that, does not guarantee "victory." Play the music for the sake of the music and that will take you far. It's like a great chess game. The great Bobby Fischer said that he could tell the difference between a player who just played strategies from a book, and a player who actually played for the art of the game. The panel will do and hear the exact same. Play you, not the system, and the music will come out beautifully.