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Preparing for a Drum Corps International Audition

Tips and tricks for being your best at a DCI drumline audition.

The time has come. You built up the courage to get out there and audition for the drum corps of your dreams. You’ve gone to and have watched video after video, and finally decided: “OK, I am going for it!”

Believe it or not, you are already halfway there! Setting the goal is the most important step in actually auditioning. In this article, I’ll share a few secrets I’ve learned about auditioning for a DCI drumline.

Preparing for Your Audition

To prepare for your audition, you need to understand the logistics. Do you know the answers to these questions?

– Where is the drum corps located?
– Where are the audition camps held?
– Are you able to attend the dates for the audition?
– Can you afford the cost for doing the camp? (Don’t stress, there are ways to pay – a topic we’ll be covering in a future blog posting.)
– What material should I prepare to audition?

All excellent questions! Most of the time, a quick visit to the Drum Corps International website will provide the answers. Once you are on their site, clearly labeled resources will direct you to the necessary registration form (often, you will have to pay a minimal fee to participate). After that, you will receive your audition packet. The packet will have all the necessary music you should prepare prior to the camp.

Be Present

To make your dream a reality, you should make sure it’s possible to actually be present at the audition. Video auditions are common, but in my opinion, you should go to the camp.

Being at the camp will give you an advantage over those not able to attend in person, and will prove your commitment right out of the gate. It benefits you for many reasons, including opportunities to:

– Meet and speak face-to-face with those holding the audition.
– Ask questions in real time and get immediate feedback.
– Network with new people – you can never have too many contacts!

And even if this camp doesn’t work out for you, you can potentially gain leads on other camps where you could audition in future.

Tips for the Camp

Once you have the logistics nailed down, the musical preparation comes next. As mentioned, each corps will provide an audition packet filled with exercises, cadences and small chunks of show music. This will be your bible for the coming months. Specifically:

Learn the packet inside and out. Be sure you are comfortable with the sticking, dynamics, measure markers and marking time. At the camp, you will be playing in front of several judges – your preparation will set you apart.
Film yourself playing. You will be watched while you play. Getting in front of a camera when you practice will help simulate this feeling of being watched. Viewing each take afterwards will help you critique your own technique.
Play with a metronome. The importance of rhythmic accuracy and tempo control cannot be emphasized enough. It’s simple: The more comfortable you are with playing to a metronome, the stronger an individual player you will be, the greater your confidence when asked to play alone and the more of an asset you are to the drumline.
Stand up and play on an instrument instead of a practice pad. Standing up and getting off the practice pad will do wonders for your preparation. Simulate what you will be doing at the audition.
Meet people before the camp. Often there will be some sort of social media gathering of folks planning to audition, and it’s likely that you will have common connections to others auditioning. It’s great to communicate with someone who is preparing the same music. Perhaps they see something different and can offer you a fresh approach!
Treat this like a test (one you want to score an “A” on). If you go into the audition with the mindset that it is a test, your preparation should reflect that. Know that you are showing your skills to people judging you – you want to impress them, don’t you?

Set Yourself Apart

In any audition, the degree of preparation you do will be what sets you apart. If you were trying out for the track team, running and conditioning would consistently be a part of your daily routine. To try and cram this type of practice into the day before a race would do nothing for you!

Auditioning for a drumline is no different. When you have material to prepare, be sure you know all of it thoroughly. And be sure to:

Have confidence. From the outset, remind yourself that this is something you want. When you make that conscious commitment, you make a promise to yourself to see it through. Don’t shy away from it because you think you lack the skill – go after it.
View this as a learning opportunity. Believe it or not, just the act of going to a camp will make you a better performer. Being there teaches you things you have not yet learned in other programs. There is something amazing about being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all striving for the same goal.
Enjoy the process. Learn to love getting better. Know that attending a camp is a real undertaking, but not one you have to go at alone. Auditions are a great time to meet new people and make new friends – and if you keep an open mind, you can learn a lot from the people you meet!

Now you’re ready to charge forward in your pursuit of marching drum corps!

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