The Audition Process: Anxiety Management and Coping Strategies

The Audition Process: Anxiety Management and Coping Strategies

The Audition Process: Anxiety Management and Coping Strategies

The Audition Process: Anxiety Management and Coping Strategies


Management of the stress & anxiety performers experience at auditions & in productions is comprehensively explored. A practical guide for immediate use, in language free of confusing psychological terminology, it offers a compendium of approaches as presented by other musicians, psychologists, athletes, & performers.


When I began my doctoral studies, I had taken some 36 orchestral auditions. In trying to secure a position as an oboist in a symphony orchestra, I found that there was more to the ritual of auditioning than merely performing well; there was also a psychological factor that had to be understood. Approaching an audition with a healthy frame of mind not only made the audition pleasant, but I also found that a healthy mind-set helped reduce the power and terror inherent in the trauma of setting myself up for failure and rejection. As I took more auditions, I noticed that my ups and downs, my frustrations, and my depressions were subject to how I perceived the end result of winning or losing. By studying the anxiety management techniques of various psychologists and schools of psychotherapy, I was able to apply some principles to help me with my particular problems. I became more curious to explore the many ideas that other disciplines, such as eastern philosophy and sports psyching, offered to increase optimum performance.

There have been writings specifically for the purpose of reducing performance anxiety in fields other than music, such as acting and psychology. The school of cognitive therapy offers much along these lines. A few books are available for musicians that are geared towards better performance. In my opinion, these books offer a few excellent suggestions but do not present enough insights to cover the Gamut of frustations I feel.

One exciting result of the research I have been doing is that many people have consulted with me as to their particular fears in taking auditions. I have thus been able to refer them to some principles that have given them insight and consolation.

I want to thank Dr. Barry Brook for helping me arrive at this topic and his guidance in organizing my thoughts. Thanks go to my brother, Dr. Allan Dunkel, a wonderful psychologist in his own right, whose insights into academia and psychology have steered me in the right direction. I appreciate the patience of my wife, Kristen Severson, who helped me with editing and moral support. I thank the musicians and psychologists I have consulted: Michael Colgrass . . .

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