I once explained how reaching out to current members, vets and staff of a group can offer tremendous insight into the audition process. They’ve been in in your exact shoes, AND they’ve come out victorious in the end.
Who better to tell you how they did it and inspire habits for you to adopt?
I received an #AskHuei question regarding bass drum auditions for a DCI drumline.
It gave me an idea.
One of the most beautiful things about participating in the WGI and DCI activity is the community that comes from the members, parents, friends, volunteers, staff, administrators, fans and everyone that comes into the orbit of the activity.
And since the question was specifically regarding the Phantom Regiment Bass Line, who better than to ask alums of the PR Bass Line?
I invited these friends and fellow educators to weigh in on their general audition advice as well as specific bass line audition advice, and sure enough, they offered up some real words of wisdom below.
We’re sharing the conversation publicly in hopes of helping others, so please feel free to share with any friends & students in a similar situation. It will help more people see the information!
Special thanks to Alyssa, Robert, Matt, Josh, and Micah for sharing their insight!
Hey Huei, I plan on auditioning for the Phantom Regiment bass line this coming up season. I have a really great work ethic and plan to put in a lot of work to gain the experience I desire.
I was hoping you had some tips or suggestions for me that I could use to my advantage.
I really hope to hear back from you. Thanks! -Dylan
Skills, Preparation, Trust, Confidence, and Being a Great Student
Huei-Yuan Pan Having great hands is the price of entry. Anything weaknesses in timing, rhythmic integrity, or being able to keep your feet in time is an immediate red flag. Watch video from previous years so you enter with a clear understanding of the technique and approach. Be flexible and ready to adjust. You gotta have the skills.
Matt James The first thing I would suggest (and you’ve already done) is reach out to someone. The resources you can find from people who’ve simply done it is by far the best thing you have. After asking questions comes the most fun/challenging part. Practice. There is an immense amount of preparation for DCI, and many instructors are looking for students who can go “beyond the packet”. Dedicating the right amount of time can seem overwhelming, but it definitely pays off. It also pays off to know what to practice. Fundamentals are key! Once you’ve achieved all of that, go to an audition! While the most intimidating aspect it’s also the most beneficial. Showing up to an audition gets you in the room and it gives you the knowledge of how things are done within that orginization.
Again most importantly ask, practice, and audition! If you have any questions feel free to contact me on Facebook and good luck!
Robert Hairston Jr. Dylan, my man! How’s it going bro? First off, I want to say it makes me VERY happy to know you want to become apart of the Ghost Bass Phamily and I wish you the best of luck. All the advice you’ve gotten so far from everyone is amazing and long as you do so, you’ll make a great impression.
I want to talk a bit about your confidence and how you carry yourself in the audition process. You need to walk in the doors knowing your going to be the absolute best version of yourself. Don’t mistake this as being cocky and acting like you’re better than everyone but you know the job you’re trying to accomplish. Being prepared like my fellow Ghost Bass told you will make your confidence level be sky high. Be yourself, don’t be shy, because not only do they look at your playing and physical abilities, they want to know the type of person you are and if your personality can fit in the Regiment.
Lastly, when you get feedback do your best to make an adjustment immediately, no matter what it may be. Even if the comments aren’t to you specifically. I hope my words help you and if there’s anymore questions or advice, don’t hesitate to send me a message.
Alyssa Margaret Michael Sterling I think a huge advantage you can have is to come out of the gate ready to go. Have the packet in a binder and a pen ready to take notes. Come prepared and memorize as much as you can before the first camp. You want your “first look” to be an accurate representation of your abilities: the way to do that is come in knowing your stuff. Another thing I would do is be confident and enthusiastic to get on any drum that becomes available. The more time the staff sees you on a drum, the better!
This is a small thing but I think we as students tend to forget the importance of not just BEING a receptive student, but SHOWING that we are. When an instructor is explaining something and you are not behind a drum, make sure you are paying attention and not hacking something out on a pad. Make eye contact; nod your head and give other nonverbal cues that you are invested in receiving the information they are giving you. Being a respectful student with a positive attitude goes a long way. Some of my pieces of advice may sound minimal, but I truly think they are vital to your success not only in drumcorps, but throughout your education and ultimately your career.
As Matt has already said, you are always welcome to message me with any questions you may have in the future. Happy drumming!
Josh A. Mitchell Preparation is the biggest advantage one can have walking into any audition. You need to feel comfortable with what you are doing in order to give an accurate read to the staff. I wholeheartedly agree with Alyssa, being prepared in every aspect shows how much you will really devote yourself. Preparation also refers to physical fitness. This activity is most challenging mentally due to the amount you have to push yourself physically. Make sure to treat your entire experience as an audition so the staff can see the best version of you!
Micah Hanner Hey Dylan! First I’d like to say that advice given thus far is great, and I’ll hop on the preparation train by saying I do think that is the #1 way to put yourself above the competition for absolutely any audition.
Preparation is key because it not only shows that you are a serious option for the organization, it also allows the staff and vets to TRUST that you’ll be a team player.
As a vet, it wasn’t nearly as important to me that we find the most talented person, or the most likable person, or the person with the most experience. It was to find someone that I could TRUST to bring their absolute best to the organization everyday of the summer.
Lastly I’ll say that being focused on a specific goal, and communicating that through your actions is a great way to earn trust quickly.
Let’s say for example you hear that the bass 3 spot is open at Regiment. Realize that the staff is aware they need this hole filled, and for lack of a better term, the staff is kind of “desperate” to find someone to step up to the plate.
So if you walk in from day one. And let them know (through playing, marching, and attitude) that YOU are the bass 3 for The Phantom Regiment… you’ll be surprised how quickly you move through the audition process.
Hope this helps, and good luck at any audition you have coming up!
- Think about how you can apply these strategies to your own situation
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Huei-Yuan Pan is a Los Angeles based professional musician via Chicago, originally from Houston. His drum corps experience includes performing with the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps (Snare, 2001) and The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps (Snare, 2002-2003; Front Ensemble, 2004). From 2008-2011, Huei served as Director and Arranger for Green Thunder Percussion, what is now Cavalier Indoor Percussion, and in 2013-2014, Percussion Caption Head with Regiment.
He is currently the Director of the Jumpstart Young Musicians Program at The Colburn School, a performing arts institution in the heart of downtown LA, and spends his time as a digital content creator providing live streaming video lessons, vlogs, and more.
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