Sally McNally’s Tips: Making Your Audition CD Sound Like A Great Version Of You On A CD

Sally McNally is highly trained person, full of experience and abilities. We asked her to give us some tips on what a a musician should do to prepare an audition CD. Here is what she said:

Sally McNally’s Tips On Making An Audition CD

With Sally McNally

Hi. I’m Sally McNally.

Being a musician is hard! It’s just full of challenging tasks and problems, sometimes with a reward at the end but mostly with just the promise of a reward, and sometimes not. Who would willingly sign up to this sort of a career, hey? Musicians, it seems.

Today I’m going to share with you some tips on how to record an audition CD. So many courses and competitions these days ask for an audio sample of your innate abilities, so recording an audition CD is definitely something you will have to do at some point, possibly even tomorrow.

But how do you go about the process of actually recording the CD? It’s one thing to have the desire to record one but quite another to actually record one for real, yourself. Many people don’t realise the vast chasm separating these two things, but it is in many ways the most important bridge to cross when it comes to recording an audition CD.

Here’s my guide to making your audition CD sound like a great version of you on a CD, which is after all what this article is all about.

  1. Play the panel’s favourite pieces, not yours.

It might seem like playing the music you love would be the best way to showcase your musical ability and personality, but this is a real rookie error. Instead of focusing on what you love, focus on what the panel loves. After all, you want them to love your audition CD and therefore love you (like there’s a difference!), so you need to make them think you are giving them a part of them, not you. Just find out what their favourite pieces are and learn those. Like for example, if I was on a panel I would just love to hear Bach’s Prelude in G- if someone played that, how could I not accept them?

2. Don’t be the CD the panel hears last!

One thing I can vouch for myself is that these judges get really tired throughout the day. You need to make sure that they listen to you with the keen, fresh-faced enthusiasm of a child with extraordinary musical skills, and so it is vital that your CD is one of the very first they hear. Some people might think it’s better to be the last they hear, but just imagine how tired the panel is going to be by the end of the day! No, definitely go first, especially if you are recording something like Bach’s Prelude in G- that would put them in a good mood straight away.

3. Make sure you record at a good venue, like Abbey Road or Jim’s house.

There’s just no substitute for a good recording studio, unless it is an exceptionally good home studio furnished with top-of-the-range equipment, like Jim’s house. The sound quality of your recording will convey a very strong impression to the panel, and it needs to be a good one. Do you want your CD to say “I am already a well-paid professional who has no need of this competition” or do you want it to say “I’m too poor to afford a good microphone or editing equipment which is why I want to apply for this thing and advance my career so I can get some of that stuff”? This is the question you must ask yourself, because the panel won’t. They will probably ask, “why hasn’t this person recorded Bach’s Prelude in G? I love that piece.”

4. Be the best recording they hear that day.

Some might think that you could successfully pass an audition by being sort of middle-of-the-road or even a bit good, but that is another rookie mistake- what you need is to be the best goddamn musician they hear that day. So all you need to do is play with a perfect technique in an emotionally stimulating and musical manner that expresses your unique personality whilst also embodying all of the composer’s instructions that you will have elucidated via a deeply investigative study of all the available editions and manuscripts whilst also keeping in mind the vast body of secondary literature by famous performing artists who worked with the composer and know a whole host of things that weren’t even notated in the score but you can be sure your panel knows about and if you don’t play them they will just reject you out of hand, and also you should have the X-factor, that really helps.

Thanks for reading! And remember, it is not just a CD, it is actually you, on a CD.

One thought on “Sally McNally’s Tips: Making Your Audition CD Sound Like A Great Version Of You On A CD

  • March 14, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Excellent post! Great advice!! The penultimate paragraph is the greatest run-on sentence I ever read. My compliments. But what’s the X factor?? I’m afraid I don’t got it…..

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