ksampsondavis

Appropriate audition pieces?

Recommended Posts

When I marched it was Bach 3C's for firsts and Bach 1 1/2C's for seconds and thirds. If you are a trumpet player you need to own a 3C and have experience playing on it. Some corps have their own custom mouthpieces, others go with whatever works best for each performer. What I would do is set aside some money so that when you find out what the corps uses you can buy one. It is important to note that everyone's facial structure is different and while one mouthpiece may work great for 9 out of 10 people there is still that 1 that doesn't fit the mold. The mechanics of how you approach embouchure are important as well. I've known great players with terrible embouchure setup and horrible players with perfect teeth and can hardly play a clark study. What I can say is the mouthpiece matters little if your lips aren't buzzing freely and with resonance. If you have that down then very few mouthpieces will give you trouble. That being said, don't be that guy that thinks a different mouthpiece will solve all your problems. The quality of breath you take along with a resonant buzz will make more of a difference than any mouthpiece can ever make on its own, so don't worry too much about mouthpieces. Look on YouTube for videos about embouchure development and tone production and be aware of the tendencies in your embouchure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still can't believe they make people use specific mouthpieces, that's just a horrible idea. No wonder I've heard that serious horn teachers are against kids doing corps. I can see having consistency on cup shape and depth, but not diameter and rim shape and contour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still can't believe they make people use specific mouthpieces, that's just a horrible idea. No wonder I've heard that serious horn teachers are against kids doing corps. I can see having consistency on cup shape and depth, but not diameter and rim shape and contour.

The idea is that with a unified approach you get a unified sound. If you can't find a way to play your show music on a designated mouthpiece than it's probably time to choose something to do with your life other than play a brass instrument.

Blue Devils won brass this year and had a killer trumpet line. Guess what? They were all playing system blue mouthpieces. The reason they do this is because no matter what "serious" horn teachers say, in the end it works. I have a system blue lead piece and guess what? I sound great on it. When I marched I played a 3C and guess what? I sounded great on that as well.

Please don't derail this thread with your pious conjecture on what "serious" horn teachers think, because having experienced both sides of that world there is NO justification for keeping a kid from marching drum corps. The brass caption heads and brass staff of these organizations are ALL incredible musicians and are some of the most "serious" instructors in the country and even the world.

My 60 year old college band director plays trumpet like a fart through a tin can but guess what? He makes 60K a year. He teaches his studio about "the pucker approach to embouchure" and is pretty convinced after 28 years of being a band director he has it figured out. Well guess what? The reality is he has a studio full of crappy trumpet players. That being said he was ALWAYS supportive of students participating in drum corps, but time and time again I've seen snobby brass musicians/instructors against drum corps and that is not what this thread is about. It is for prospective MM's to imbue quality advice on how to pursue a membership in the marching arts, NOT a pedestal for you to hop on and tell off the beating hearts of these inspired kids that they aren't "serious" about being a brass musician.

My father is the associate principal trombonist in the Symphony where I live and he had a stick up his butt and would say "it's just kids on a field blowing their brains out" until he saw with his own eyes the quality brass instruction that went into drum corps when I marched.

A rival trumpet player from another high school in my town had a stick up his butt all through high school and said "drum corps isn't for serious trumpet players". Guess what? He was a trumpet soloist for 2 seasons with Phantom AND was horn sargeant his age-out year.

All this to say please keep this thread about helping passionate students follow their dreams of one day marching drum corps. Rant OVER.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go find a good first movement of any solo you are comfortable playing. Something that shows a little range, some technical skill, and musicality.

practice it. you may only get 90 seconds to actually play in front of their staff.

download their audition packet, it will tell you what you need to practice, it will have exercises for you to learn before you go to camp, and it will have excerpts and songs that they will use in camp. practice these ad nauseum until they are perfect.

play on whatever is most comfortable to you and will give you the best sound possible.

Most all corps will have one major question for you "why do you want to become a _______________?" know how to answer that. know what that means to you. and be able to talk about it.

And of course, learn how they march. how they start and finish phrases visually. that all is part of the audition.

some corps only give you one camp to audition. (all top 12) some will have alternates they keep for one camp. and some will take you more than a camp to see how you progress. (13 through the rest of the corps)

Above all though, play on something you already feel comfortable on, and let them make suggestions, and play something you feel comfortable. And download the corps audition materials, and learn them all back and forth, because part of showing up is being prepared and them seeing that you prepared.

if you're auditioning on trumpet, see what the audition packet suggests, if it suggests. I know that carnival of venice is a pretty good piece, but take a look at what the military bands use for suggested trumpet solos to use.

Edited by C.Holland
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea is that with a unified approach you get a unified sound. If you can't find a way to play your show music on a designated mouthpiece than it's probably time to choose something to do with your life other than play a brass instrument.

Blue Devils won brass this year and had a killer trumpet line. Guess what? They were all playing system blue mouthpieces. The reason they do this is because no matter what "serious" horn teachers say, in the end it works. I have a system blue lead piece and guess what? I sound great on it. When I marched I played a 3C and guess what? I sounded great on that as well.

Please don't derail this thread with your pious conjecture on what "serious" horn teachers think, because having experienced both sides of that world there is NO justification for keeping a kid from marching drum corps. The brass caption heads and brass staff of these organizations are ALL incredible musicians and are some of the most "serious" instructors in the country and even the world.

My 60 year old college band director plays trumpet like a fart through a tin can but guess what? He makes 60K a year. He teaches his studio about "the pucker approach to embouchure" and is pretty convinced after 28 years of being a band director he has it figured out. Well guess what? The reality is he has a studio full of crappy trumpet players. That being said he was ALWAYS supportive of students participating in drum corps, but time and time again I've seen snobby brass musicians/instructors against drum corps and that is not what this thread is about. It is for prospective MM's to imbue quality advice on how to pursue a membership in the marching arts, NOT a pedestal for you to hop on and tell off the beating hearts of these inspired kids that they aren't "serious" about being a brass musician.

My father is the associate principal trombonist in the Symphony where I live and he had a stick up his butt and would say "it's just kids on a field blowing their brains out" until he saw with his own eyes the quality brass instruction that went into drum corps when I marched.

A rival trumpet player from another high school in my town had a stick up his butt all through high school and said "drum corps isn't for serious trumpet players". Guess what? He was a trumpet soloist for 2 seasons with Phantom AND was horn sargeant his age-out year.

All this to say please keep this thread about helping passionate students follow their dreams of one day marching drum corps. Rant OVER.

I'm not saying kids shouldn't do it at all or even hinting at it. What I am saying as a lifelong brass player is that you cannot arbitrarily pick a mouthpiece for a person. You can do more harm than good if that mouthpiece isn't the right fit for the embouchure and facial structure. You know what, a 3C (brand depending) does not work for me. It is too wide (a Curry 3C is about 16.9mm). I can't play it without some serious contortions to my embouchure, and that hurts the other lead type playing I need to do. It would be dumb for me to use a 3C at all when a 5C or something would be much better suited to my facial structure. However, a bach 5C has a sharp inner rim which cuts into my lip because of a tooth protrusion, so I can't use that either, but a 5C from another brand just works fine. Forcing me to use a "brand x 3C" would be horrible for my playing, and I don't know of any trumpet teacher worth their salt that would blindly tell a student to use a particular brand and size mouthpiece.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you know off the top of your head any corps that have a certain mouthpiece? I think remember Hop saying something about that in a Tuesdays with the Cadets episode.

In the Bluecoat's audition material it states that they only use Karl Hammond Custom Design Mouthpieces.

Edited by nallop24

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not saying kids shouldn't do it at all or even hinting at it. What I am saying as a lifelong brass player is that you cannot arbitrarily pick a mouthpiece for a person. You can do more harm than good if that mouthpiece isn't the right fit for the embouchure and facial structure. You know what, a 3C (brand depending) does not work for me. It is too wide (a Curry 3C is about 16.9mm). I can't play it without some serious contortions to my embouchure, and that hurts the other lead type playing I need to do. It would be dumb for me to use a 3C at all when a 5C or something would be much better suited to my facial structure. However, a bach 5C has a sharp inner rim which cuts into my lip because of a tooth protrusion, so I can't use that either, but a 5C from another brand just works fine. Forcing me to use a "brand x 3C" would be horrible for my playing, and I don't know of any trumpet teacher worth their salt that would blindly tell a student to use a particular brand and size mouthpiece.

Any trumpet player worth their salt should be able to get a decent sound out of a Bach 3C. I have played with several different embouchures and countless mouthpieces and have never had a problem getting decent sounds because as I mentioned earlier, if you breathe correctly and your buzz is free and resonant, the mouthpiece you use matters little. I agree that everyone's facial structure is different and certain mouthpieces may have advantages over others, but there is a reason a Bach 3C is a standard mouthpiece. If you throw me any mouthpiece you can find I will find a way to get a decent sound out of it; that is a hallmark of solid brass fundamentals.

Although I am glad you have found what works for you, chances are there is indeed a way for you to make a 3C work and simply never took the time to explore that possibility. I see this with tuning slides so often it makes me sick; as soon as a trumpet player realizes they are out of tune they gun for the tuning slide with little consideration for the lack of proper breathing and buzz resonance.

One thing I have learned about trumpet players over the years is that they are extremely obstinate about the way they play (including my younger self) and have trouble adapting their approach to playing. Now this makes sense seeing as new embouchure integration can take weeks or months to take place and trumpet players are often not afforded the luxury of time to change things up very often. I have put the horn up to my lips a thousand different ways with dozens of different mouthpieces and while certain approaches and equipment certainly does lend more success than others, I've never felt that solid brass fundamentals could not carry me through.

Do you think Eric Clapton would pick up a Kmart guitar and NOT be able to make incredible music on it then blame it on the fact that he wasn't playing blackie? Do you understand that in the golden age of drum corps many corps used whatever hand me down equipment they had at their disposal? They were happier than a pig in mud to be a part of drum corps and beyond all odds found a way to make it work.

Now if I were richer than dirt I would buy all the corps full lines of Yamaha Xeno's because they are consistently the highest quality instruments brasslines today use. Maybe a line of custom Monette's would be even better. Maybe Crown could have won the Ott the last 3 years on Jupiters or Kings. Maybe Blue Devils wouldn't have taken the Ott this year if they didn't have their system blue equipment. Who can tell. All I can say for sure is that great brass musicians always have and always will find ways to achieve success regardless of the equipment at their disposal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before my first audition in 2009 I checked out a mellophone from my high school band to become familiar with in the event all the trumpet spots would be filled. This didn't end up being a problem for me as I walked out of the audition with a trumpet spot, but it may be helpful to have experience on both which will help show dedication to getting a spot.

You mentioned that you want to leave nothing to be desired, but I want you to understand that it is the brass caption head/techs job to find what is to be desired in your playing and make you aware of things to improve upon. How you sink your teeth into those changes and work to improve your playing will be the best indicator of a successful prospective MM. I've known people who botched their audition and we're incredibly discouraged from not getting a contract. This usually went one of two ways: They let it get to them and didn't show up for the next camp, OR they worked their butts off and came back the next camp or even the next year and 100% of the time they got a contract. It may not be the first camp, it may not be the last camp or even the next season, but if you work hard to improve you will almost certainly get a contract. Your dedication to improving speaks much more strongly than someone who nails the audition and gets lazy because they don't think they have to work as hard and end up falling behind the members that are working their butts off as a result.

As far as repertoire is concerned. Most corps have their own audition pieces but may also allow you to play a short excerpt of your own. 2-3 minutes is really pushing it. The staff will be auditioning brass over the course of the camp and no one has time to listen to someone hack their way through an entire solo. What I did was played the theme to Napoli by Herman Bellstedt to display lyrical abilities and the 3rd variation to display technical skill. It took about a minute, and this is important because then you don't have to worry about playing a long excerpt after 2 days of playing your horn 8 or more hours (unless you play that much already your chops will probably be a little beat up come audition time). Also I want you to understand that a good brass instructor will be able to "see through" your playing and isolate issues in your playing despite the repertoire, so choose something you are comfortable playing and know you can perform well. Don't worry about wowing them by flying through Carnival of Venice when the first page of the Kennan may serve you equally well. Work with your private instructor or band director to choose a piece (or short sections/variations etc.) that highlights the strengths in your playing.

Once you have found repertoire that you want to audition with, the next thing you want to do is to hop on YouTube and listen to as many different recordings of the repertoire as you can. Once you have a conceptual basis to outline what you want to do with the piece, flip on the metronome and tuner and start hammering it out. Practice in chunks, and overlap them so that the end of one chunk is past the beginning of the next. This way, when you go to play the full excerpt there should be no hiccups in the transition from one chunk to the next. Once you feel that you have hammered out the notes and rhythms and your transitions are seamless, pull out your phone/laptop and start making recordings. This is important because the awareness of what we hear while playing is often clouded by the focus it takes to play in the first place, and once you strip that away and devote your undivided attention to what you have recorded, issues with timing/phrasing etc. become apparent in a way that you may have previously been unaware of.

As for the audition itself, remember that you are paying a lot of money for top quality instruction from some of the best brass educators in the country and even the world. Many have spent their entire careers dedicating themselves to improving the students they teach. If they have constructive criticism for you (and they will, it's their job), there is no reason to take it personally, they only have your best interests as a musician in mind.

Last thing, and perhaps most importantly, is get in touch with members of the corps you want to march in and listen to their audition stories. Your first camp can be an awkward experience, but if you have an idea of what it will be like beforehand from members in the corps chances are you will be much more comfortable. Immerse yourself in the experience and take in everything you possibly can. Get to know as many MM's and staff as you can, listen more than you speak, and reach out of your comfort zone to go the extra mile. Participating in drum corps is hands down the most rewarding experience I've ever had, and when the time comes it will be for you as well.

Hope this helps!

Yeah, I'm auditioning for BK and this answers almost any questions I had about the solo piece.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can do more harm than good if that mouthpiece isn't the right fit for the embouchure and facial structure.

The vast majority of DCI brass instructors are trained professionals. There are many reasons why there may be an assigned mouthpiece, but the overwhelming one is to create the best sound possible. No brass staff is going to ever put a kid on a mouthpiece that's not right for them either. But there's no reason not to have a guide for what you want to use, and then take things on a case by case basis.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'm auditioning for BK and this answers almost any questions I had about the solo piece.

I'm happy to help out, it's awesome that you are auditioning! Blue Knights had an awesome show this year (liked their show last year as well) and I can't wait to see what they come up with for next season. Best of luck to you! Check back with this thread if you ever have any questions/concerns leading up to your audition :)

Edited by Bannedforlife
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.