5 reasons why you should celebrate every audition, win or lose

these minions are probably celebrating their own little minion audition. right?  artwork by christine pexin .

these minions are probably celebrating their own little minion audition. right? artwork by christine pexin.

an orchestra audition after-party is a loser’s party. 

this is the first image that pops up when you search google for "loser's party." (hilarious.)

this is the first image that pops up when you search google for "loser's party." (hilarious.)

that is, everyone besides the winner feels like a loser. unless the audition was for two spots, and the two winners are off in the corner, celebrating all by themselves. and if you go to one of these notorious after-parties, the things that you’ll probably overhear are, “MAN. i thought it went so well.” or, “you know that one place in scheherazade? yeah… i totally choked.” or, “it’s a conspiracy! they’re all out to get me!” etc.

you get the idea.


well, it’s a complicated time.

everyone’s reflecting on negative feelings about the outcome of the audition. some of them are expressing those feelings outwardly, and others are putting those feelings away to deal with them later. 

the end of an audition is kind of a crazy moment of life. you’ve just done an incredible amount of work, with a huge, obsessive build up, and it all goes away at once. in a weird way, it’s anticlimactic.

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why auditions are different.

clapping. photo by  sam levin .

clapping. photo by sam levin.

usually, after you rehearse for an orchestra concert or practice for a recital, you have an entire 2 hour concert. and usually there are festivities that go along with it. you’re performing for an audience that listens, and acknowledges you. they clap at you to celebrate the fact that it happened, or that they had a good experience. and then you go celebrate. every good recital has a classy soiree. or, like, an unclassy beer experience.

and also this: in the case of a recital or an orchestra performance, nobody loses anything. you can’t lose an orchestra performance. 

but for an audition, you do an intense amount of work on what amounts to not much actual music. you may not even see the people who are listening to you. and nobody EVER claps after your performance. (clapping is breaking the rules!) so you played for 4 minutes in what feels like a room by yourself, and then IT’S OVER. even at the audition i won, i remember thinking, “but wait - i have so much more to play for you! i even prepared vibraphone!"


it doesn't matter. celebrate anyway.

giant colorful lollipops: the best way to celebrate anything.

giant colorful lollipops: the best way to celebrate anything.

well, here’s the thing. regardless of how it feels, the fact that you (1.) went through all that work, (2.) prepared your audition, and (3.) actually showed up and performed is a huge achievement. it represents months of effort. you built excerpts from the ground up, shaping them in incremental ways every day, and you polished them into audition-ready snippets of music. and then you took the risk and traveled to perform it. and through that process, you got so much better. you got better at your instrument, you got better as a musician, and you got better as an auditioner. 


and so you have to celebrate, whether you win or lose. here are 5 reasons why:


reason #1: you’ll work harder if there’s something to look forward to.

if you can look forward to the celebration, then you’ll let yourself practice harder. you’ll let yourself invest more into it. if you’re just on a constant work-only track and you don’t get rewarded for the work you put in, then you won’t allow yourself to work as hard. so just by the act of celebrating, you’ll have something to look forward to. you’ll know that you’ll be able to say, "i’m done, i can finally do whatever i want. i can forget about this stuff and stop obsessing over the same little things that i’ve been working on." and just having that to look forward to will affect your preparation in a positive way. 


reason #2: you need to have balance.

photo by  evonne

photo by evonne

everyone knows that the human psyche is a constantly swinging pendulum. if you push yourself too hard one way, you have to let yourself fly back the other way. every ounce of work has to be offset by an appropriate type of celebration. whether that’s just getting 2% instead of skim milk with your starbucks, or whether that’s a 2-week trip to the bahamas, you have to stay sane. and after a giant, overwhelming project like an audition, a celebration is the least you can do.

reason #3: your ‘win’ is the preparation, not the audition result.

sure, when you take an audition, the result is important. but you can’t affect the result... all you can do is prepare better than last time. you take your previous results, evaluate your weaknesses, and shape your next audition preparation process to address them. and then you try again and see what happens.

what’s more important than whether you won is the actual process. if you can improve your process every single time, then eventually your audition will have a positive outcome. so did your preparation process improve? celebrate that sh%t.

here’s what you’re celebrating: the work that you put in and what you learned along the way. because when you struggle through that preparation process, you learn things, and you solve problems. regardless of outcome, there actually is this tangible thing to celebrate that was actually a win. so acknowledge your work.

reason #4: to move past this ginormous life event.

celebrating an audition is a formal way of letting go of the work that you did throughout the audition process. it’s a time where you can officially decide that you’re moving on.

a celebration is a positive event - it’s a thing that you do in a happy life. and to be an audition winner, you have to live an auditioning lifestyle. that means incredible amounts of work and lots of constant rejection. and if you don’t have positivity in your life, you’re not going to be motivated to keep going. instead, there’s going to be no way out of it, and you’re going to stay bogged down in all these problems that you found. but any tenacious auditioner is going to finish and, regardless of the outcome, pick up the pieces and move on. you can say, "i did this and this right, and i did this and this wrong. next time, i’m going to try fixing those weaknesses through continued work on these pieces. i’m going to try some new methods, and i’m going to brainstorm some new ways to fix it."

a celebration is a way for you to get rid of the negative emotions surrounding the problems, or the baggage of the audition, and allow you to start fresh with a renewed sense of energy. it's going to allow you to clear your head and come back later in a rejuvenated way. 

because that’s why celebrations happen. you need to acknowledge that it happened, let yourself feel all of the feels, and move on.

reason #5: so you don’t mind doing the whole thing over again.

when you look back on an audition you want to have a good perspective on it rather than hating everything about it. you want to look back and say, “well, i did a lot of work, and then it was over. i felt such relief when it was over, and i got to hang out with friends! we went to the beach!" and so you want to give yourself a reason to say, “well, i don’t mind doing that again." and that stress-relief is characterized or epitomized by the celebration that happened afterwards.

so go celebrate. and take pictures! and post them on the auditionhacker facebook group - i want to see them!

preparing for an audition? 

here's my 5-step guide to constructing your preparation process and optimizing it for maximum results.


rob knopper

hailed by @nytimes and james levine as needing 'louder triangle notes'. recorded delécluse: douze études for snare drum, percussionist in @metorchestra.