Auditions

Jul. 26th, 2014 11:09 pm
kayre: (Default)
[personal profile] kayre
My own audition/interview processes, and one described by a friend in a comment today, have me pondering the process. I've auditioned for church musician positions 4 times (I got one job without any audition), and only one of those processes has made sense (CLC, my current church; Delmar came close).

Nearly all churches are looking for someone versatile-- able to play both piano and organ, in a variety of styles. What have they asked me to prepare? ONE organ piece, ONE hymn, sometimes ONE piano piece. CLC didn't care about piano or multiple styles-- Bach on the organ was enough. In all three other auditions, they asked for only one organ piece and one hymn, and Faith also asked for a piano piece. (I gently insisted on playing two organ pieces at each of my auditions this summer.)

And then there's sightreading. Is sightreading really a part of an organist's job? Possibly reading a basic hymn, if the church likes to do spontaneous hymn sings. But one of my auditions, and the one my friend shared, involved being asked to sightread extremely complex material-- in my case an accompaniment to a choir anthem, with crazy meter and multiple key changes. The only reason for asking me to sightread such a thing as part of my job would be that someone failed to prepare adequately, either me or a director. (At my advice, CLC sent a likely-unfamiliar bit of liturgy to candidates a week ahead of the audition, a much more reasonable test.) Rev. P. at Faith did ask me to sightread, but she was specifically testing my willingness and ability to work with a particular style. Sightreading is crazy stressful, and I doubt if most committees learn much by forcing someone to attempt to sightread something complex.

What would make more sense to me? Inviting candidates to prepare a 10 to 20 minute program (depending on the level of the job) of pieces or excerpts that best demonstrate their skills; ask them to prepare one or two specific hymns; and perhaps sightreading of a basic hymn, in an easy key and common meter.

Date: 2014-07-27 04:36 pm (UTC)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
Hmmm. Sounds almost like you have a consulting service business idea there, to help churches with a reasonable way to conduct a music search based on their goals and expectations...especially if they're so routinely failing at it. :)

Date: 2014-07-28 02:48 am (UTC)
cellio: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cellio
I agree. What you're describing makes no sense. In other fields, sometimes candidates assemble a portfolio of work -- writing samples in my case (tech writer), or demo software, or web-site designs, or paintings, or whatever goes with the job. In the case of a musician, that's a program of works.

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