View Full Version : How to hold drumline auditions??

12-30-2009, 12:15 PM
Hey guys,

So I'm now the instructor of my high school line and unfortunately not as experienced as I would like to be, having only graduated two years ago. This spring with be the first time the director has ever held drumline auditions, thanks to a little coaxing on my part. Anyways, I am in the dark on the best way to hold the auditions.
I envisioned that we would start by having each individual audition on the instrument of their choice. This would involve three short exercises, one-half of a cadence, and one-half of a field show. I considered full pieces, but one should be capable of seeing wether the student has practiced and is using good technique after a few moments.
As well as the written pieces that they will be rehearsing, the individual audition will conclude with a sight reading piece and a short interview as to why they want to be in the drumline and why they feel that they would be a valuable member to the ensemble.
After the individual auditions, the director and I will then decide on who will fit best in the positions that they auditioned for, and who will need to be placed on a better instrument for their skill level.
We will then run through the exercises, cadence, field show tune, and sight reading piece (which will most likely be their five minute warm-up) as an ensemble, marking time in place as we do so. Afterwards and changes we will announce positions permanently for the season and conclude the audition.
Am I forgetting anything? Like I said, I've never held and auditions before. This will be for a high school that merely does half time, parades, and various performances in concert season. No competitions, no WGI, or anything at or above level 6. I will be writing the exercises, cadences, and five minute warm-up, because I know what my director is looking for. Perhaps I am just concerned about an effective and professional presentation? What do you guys think?

Thanks for your help!

Mr. Intensity
12-30-2009, 08:21 PM
Everything you have there is pretty standard for auditions, but I think I might have a few suggestions to improve the quality of the audition itself. Alot of times too much information is shoved into the kids before they're ready, so it's good to slow down everything just a little so that they can absorb the info over a period of time.

The first thing I would change is give all the kids a stock packet of warmups for all drums, (Eights, Double Beat, Rolls, Flams, etc etc) and have all of them play through the packet as a group with you on pads. Having the kids on pads will make it easier for you to pick out technique issues; if they can't play with good technique on one pad, how are they going to play with good technique on 5 drums?

The second thing I would change is before the auditions begin, have them rank the instrument they want to be on from most wanted to least wanted. For example; 1) Snare 2) Tenors 3) Front Ensemble.
Not every kid wants to be a snare drummer, so it's better to see where they personally want to be before you force them to play a certain drum. During the audition process you sould pick out kids for each drum and ask them to do sectional audtions; basically pulling all the snares together to drum, tenors together, basses together (with splits for the basses). Make sure they're all on pads still.

The final thing you should do, before you even play some book or even a cadence, is to get the kids to play together on the drums by grouping them off in the sections you feel they will do the best in. So, set a line, play exercises from the packet, then during all this, move the kids around to the point where you see them becoming comfortable. Only after you feel things are running smoothly with the exercise sectionals should you move to harder stuff; nothing good will come from trying to sprint before you can crawl.

I do like your individual idea, and I think you should try to do that if time permits, it would give you a more personal connection with the kids. One thing that would help alot is if you can split the audition process over several days. When I was in High School, we had three different audition processes for the line. Part one was a three day pad tryout that was setup like I stated earlier; part two was a one-on-one audition with concert music for the concert band placement; ad part three was a week long camp on drums where the line was set for the year. Mind you, this all took place during the spring semester; so this year my old HS's first camp is the middle of April, usually a Wed, Thurs, Fri sort of deal for 3 hours in the evening, the second is in the middle of May which takes place after school, and the last is the week following the last week of school which is Mon-Fri, 9am to 4pm with an hour for lunch at noon.

Now granted, you may not need to do everything we did, but this process allowed us to be comfortable with our sections far before the next school year started up. Let me know if you need or want any other suggestions and I'd be glad to help out.