The Auditionhacker Podcast, Episode 1


In this introductory podcast, percussionist Rob Knopper describes his process of winning an orchestral audition. He has built a systematic approach, honed over 54 auditions, which includes months of preparation, planning, and granular practice techniques. I think this is an valuable peek into what may be required to succeed at the highest levels as a performer in the music profession.

Obviously, there will be divergence between the path of an orchestral musician and a singer at the highest levels. However, I feel that there is plenty to learn from here. The following are some my own takeaways after listening to this podcast.

(Re)setting goals and (re)defining success

  • The think the keystone of the whole program could be described as such: The author argues that the most valuable asset in the audition process is your preparation process. Everything, from audition failures to successes, are a means to improving and refining that process.


  • Throughout this podcast, and any subsequent ideas that follow, what if you were to replace "(orchestral) audition" with the following things:
    • A practice session;
    • A lesson or coaching;
    • Recording session;
    • Opera/song interp/ensemble audition;
    • Exam/jury/final recital;
    • Competition;
    • YAP/agency audition.

Building your process

  • I think one of the author's most insightful points is the following: Are you able to take your negative emotions and convert them into actionable steps?

"Auditions are a test of your audition preparation process; they are just a measurement of the work you did."

On being in school

  • The author describes having built a process that he could "cut and paste" and apply to any orchestral excerpt and come up with audition-ready material on the other side. However, he's speaking from the perspective of someone who has finished his schooling and has honed his craft enough to attain this level. His quote above about auditions being a test of your process assumes that you have all of the skills and tools necessary to succeed already.
  • Within this context, I would posit that a primary goal of being a student should be to:
    • Build technical skills (your instrument);
    • Build a library of practising tools to tackle any challenges you may face in the practice room;
    • Build your own systematic process to prepare music to the highest of your ability; and last but not least,
    • Accrue personal and musical experience.

"There is no failure in experimentation, only feedback." - Tim Ferriss

Experimentation and failure

  • The author addresses failure near the end of the podcast. I believe this is one of the most important points: a radical change in your relationship with failure. He states, "[audition results are not] a measurement of who you are as a person or a musician". Auditions (or lessons, exams, recordings, etc.) are an experiment, and failure is feedback for you to take to improve your preparation and process.
  • Studies into neurology have indicated that these moments of discomfort that occur when we make mistakes are necessary conditions that make learning possible (i.e., the creation of new neural pathways). In other words, mistakes are a pre-requisite of learning.

Further reading

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