I have an audition tomorrow for my high school band (exactly 24 hours from now) on the trumpet. It's sent in, so I can try a few times during the day if needed.

Here's my issue: they gave us the music for the audition less than a week ago. I've been practicing it it a lot, but my chops are certainly tired. The rhythms aren't a big issue, but there's one note in one in one of the required scales that is just a tiny bit too high for me to play comfortably (I can play one full step below it). Needless to say, I had a busy winter break. :)

I can successful hit it, but only with applying pressure that not only hurts but prevents me from hitting anything anything marginally high. In addition, it degrades my tone quality a lot (sometimes, even with notes in the middle of the staff, the tone resembles a saxophone playing a low note with a crappy reed).

I've looked into alternate fingerings and it does help, but it's still not ideal. The worst part is the high note is at the very beginning, so it makes me look bad throughout the whole audition. How can I prepare quickly for this?

  • Well, I fear by now it's too late for any advice :-( . If your chops are continuously tired, then either your diaphragmatic muscles are underdeveloped or you are practicing more than you should in the first place. About all I can recommend is to warm up carefully, then get fully psyched, hit that opening, and then try to "relax" to your normal playing style. Nice that you can record multiple attempts and send in the best -- tho' I must say that sort of defeats one of the points of an audition, which is to see how you perform 'live' (as you will in the band itself). Jan 19, 2015 at 13:14
  • It might be worth explaining this at the audition. If you think they haven't given you enough time to practice, that would be something they should be made aware of (whether you pass the audition or not?) Jan 19, 2015 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


Sacrifice the high note.

The high note is what will separate 1st chair 1st trumpet from other position. There will be other people that will be able to nail the high note and make it sound good. If you attempt it, and the rest of your playing suffers, all you are doing is showing your immaturity to the judges.

If possible, play the note an octave lower. If not, omit note completely. It better for you to have everything be very solid than to try and reach something beyond your means. This is discipline and maturity as you are thinking about the best musical sound, and not yourself. They will not put you in a top chair, but because they can trust your musicianship, they will put you in a solid seat - 2nd or 3rd chair 1st trumpet perhaps.

When/if they ask why you did what you did, give them musical reasons instead of personal/physical ones. Musical ones sound mature, everything else will come across as whining. The ensemble you're auditioning for expects people to be able to learn a piece of music in a week - this is one way they are able to "audition" people before they even step into the audition.

Do Not over play or obsess about your music on the audition day. Try to relax - play video games or hoops or read a book. Do a short warmup in the morning before school where you play long, quiet, low tones on your mouthpiece. Run through your music mentally looking for exact rhythms, dynamics, and tonguing the articulations. Air-finger the music as well (some people use their wrist or leg to pretend it is a trumpet).

In the audition, remember to take two breaths before you play: one to calm yourself down, one to play. Think of your tempo before you play.

What's done is done. All you can do now is take care of yourself and play your best.

  • 1
    This is what I wanted to say but not knowing anything about trumpet, I didn't feel qualified to :)
    – Mr. Boy
    Jan 19, 2015 at 17:29

At this stage the best thing for you to do is probably rest. Your lips are small muscles which means that you can wear them out fast but it also means that they will recover fast.

Make sure that you have a good warm-up on the day. I find that doing slurred chromatic runs between middle C and bottom G with plenty of air and not too much pressure or volume gets the lips buzzing well without straining them too much.

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