Audition prep guide: 2017-18 ETSBOA All East Flute Senior High music (11-12)

The short pieces required to audition for ETSBOA’s All East Tennessee Honor Band are divided into a lyrical selection and a technical selection. Examining the lyrical piece first, it is essential to practice this with a slow metronome, either counting by eighth note or counting by quarter note. Depending on the student, it might be better to learn this music by counting eighth notes first and then transitioning to larger quarter beats. Keeping an accurate, steady tempo through all these rhythmic changes is challenging but essential.

Even though there is a lot of black ink on the page (32nd notes, 16th note triplets), it’s important to keep the lyrical quality throughout the piece. Play these licks accurately but do not rush. In the 32nd notes leading into measure 4, play the crescendo to the fortissimo dynamic marking but try not to sound shrill or strident. Strive for a warm and inviting sound, even in extreme registers or dynamics.

Listen for the intonation of the perfect 4th interval in the first measure, and similarly check the open fifths in measures 6 and 8. Play these intervals on a piano or keyboard to get the appropriate spacing. Playing intervals with a tuner does not always tell the whole story.

There are many opportunities to breathe in this short piece but it was difficult for me to find satisfying places that go with harmonic motion and phrasing. The above recording shows where I ended up deciding to breathe. Instead of focusing so much on where to breathe, focus instead on being convincing with the breaths that you take, taking care that breaths don’t interrupt the music or become distracting.

A challenging aspect of this selection is the fortissimo marking from measure 10 to the end. There is no diminuendo marked, so be sure that you do not make one accidentally. This takes a lot of air -- and some planning with respect to breathing.

The technical selection, marked Giocoso, is fun to play as it moves through so many key changes in such a short time. Mark these carefully so you don’t make any key-related mistakes. The articulation marking in m. 16 is a little confusing - I experimented at first with making the first two notes of each beat a single tongue legato with the second two notes of each beat a double tongue staccato. In the end, it seemed so odd that I opted for a more straightforward slur two/tongue two approach for those two beats. It’s not technically what is written, but doing it the other way seemed unmusical.

Keep your sixteenth notes even and light, and space your sixteenth note triplets well so that they don’t rush. The last note, the flute’s notorious Db, can be very sharp, so take care with pitch in that spot and use a tuner. Sometimes thinking of a darker tone on the middle Db can help with the intonation.

Good luck! Don't forget to practice sightreading.