how to add phrasing to your audition solo

playing an excerpt or solo without phrasing is audition suicide.

if you play flat phrases, if you play without character, or if you play without inflection, the audition will not go well.

a student texted me recently. he’s someone who usually plays note-perfect auditions, and after advancing but not winning another audition, he said:

want to nail your next audition?

here's the 5-part audition preparation method i used to win a job in the met orchestra.

(for any instrument!)


why is phrasing so important?

think about it this way: if you went to a kindergarten class to tell the story of little red riding hood, no one cares if you read every word in the correct order without making mistakes. they care if you make the big bad wolf voice and make it sound exciting.

an audition jury is basically a big kindergarten class. the entire point of playing music for them is to give them an emotional experience through phrasing, character, and style. they’re gonna be just as bored as the kindergarteners if your excerpts are flat and phrase-less.
ok ok. FINE. but how does one add phrasing?

it can be confusing to get started with phrasing. it’s unwritten. and it’s very personal.
everyone does it differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to phrase.

because of those exact reasons, lots of musicians completely ignore phrasing! which gives YOU an opportunity to leapfrog over those people at the next audition if you just make an effort to add phrasing to your excerpts and solos.


in order to demonstrate some stuff for today’s video i re-learned and recorded the prelude from bach’s G major cello suite on marimba.

rob knopper

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