About a month ago, I did my first professional audition, for the 2nd bassoon of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. All in all, it was not so different from an audition here at school. For the ensemble auditions in the bassoon studio at McGill, there are two rounds. In general, those who make it to the second round will be in the McGill Symphony Orchestra, and those who get cut after the first will be in the Wind Symphony or Contemporary Music Ensemble. For my first two auditions, I didn't make it past the first round. So, when I made it into the second round for the first time, I was so pleased that I allowed my concentration to slip while playing the second round (which, I rationalized, didn't matter since I had already made it into orchestra.) The next time, however, I was prepared to concentrate through both rounds and aim to win the audition or improve my standing instead of just being content with being in orchestra.
In the KW audition, I made it into the second round and then got cut before the finals. I found much the same thing happened-- since I didn't want/feel prepared to take the job anyway, and since I hadn't even really expected to make it into the semis, I wasn't particularly concentrated while playing them and made some stupid mistakes. Of course, it's impossible to say whether avoiding making those mistakes would have gotten me into the finals, but at least it would have been more because of the panel's preferences and less a matter of having to cut me by default because I made an unacceptable number of mistakes.
However, all in all it was a very positive experience, and left me wanting to do it again, with higher aspirations. The one thing I will do next time that I should have this time was to check my hotel room for anything that might keep me awake and get a room change as soon as possible if there are any problems. When I arrived it was extremely cold outside, and I was so glad to be a room with a heater that I didn't think about the fact that the heater was extremely noisy and came on and off according to the temperature in the room with a clunk which, as I discovered when I went to bed, was loud enough to wake me up every time. At midnight I finally called the front desk and asked to be moved to a room with a different type of heater. I was settled in the new room at 12:30, asleep by 1... and slept through my alarm, waking up half an hour before my time slot in the audition began. Whoops! Luckily I played third in the time slot, so I actually had exactly the right amount of time to warm up and not enough to hang around getting nervous.
I'll hopefully be doing a similar audition next year...