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Music - Recital and Audition preparation

A step by step guide to assist you prepare for recitals and auditions

Brent Miller - Percussion

Brent Miller

Former QCGU HDR, Timpanist, Percussionist, Conductor, Educator -

Audition testimonial

Auditions can be the bane of a musician’s existence.  Particularly with auditions for orchestral positions, the process and experience as a whole can feel far removed from what the actual job of being an orchestral musician entails.  Taking excerpts from symphonic works out of context and playing your part solo, without conductor or fellow musicians to respond to, may seem like a task that holds little relevance to the job you are applying for.  The task is also an incredibly daunting one – in most cases, a collection of some of the most challenging repertoire in the orchestral canon has been compiled and you are expected to execute each excerpt with complete precision (irrespective of how an orchestra, in context, may ebb and flow rhythmically or in pitch).

For better or for worse, auditions are a necessary evil in today's competitive ‘market’ in order to effectively assess a vast number of candidates in an efficient time frame.  There are, however, many positive experiences to be gained from preparing for an audition regardless of the outcome.  It is a great opportunity (that might otherwise be missed) for focused work to develop an aspect of your musicianship.  For example – you may learn how to better prepare a lot of music in a short time frame or work on improving intonation, rhythmic accuracy, attention to detail, repertoire nuance and shaping, etc.
It is important to remember that the result of an audition should not be taken personally.  An unsuccessful audition is not an all-encompassing verdict on your worth as a musician.  A colleague of mine gave me this anecdote after one of my unsuccessful overseas auditions: “You could be the BEST chocolate ice cream there is, but, what if they want strawberry?”

Essential audition tips

  • Be versatile. Be prepared to play the excerpt a number of different ways as this may be requested of you.  This, among other reasons, is to assess how quickly you can respond to direction from your section or a conductor
  • Play for many different people while you prepare the paper.  Don’t just play for people who play your instrument - sometimes, the best feedback you will receive is from musicians who play a different instrument to you.  Remember that orchestral panels, in most cases, will not just consist of people who play your instrument!
  • In the heat of the moment, it is easy to forget things.  Writing yourself a checklist for each piece can help keep you focused under pressure


Brent Miller (Australia) has performed nationally and internationally as Timpanist and Percussionist with orchestras including the Melbourne Symphony, Orchestra Victoria, Malaysian Philharmonic, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan), Singapore Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, the Queensland and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. His chamber music involvements have included performances with Southern Cross Soloists, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Camerata of St. John’s, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Queensland Virtuosi, Sydney Camerata, and conducting engagements with Griffith Chamber Players, Queensland Philharmonia, Ensemble Ardor and Camerata of St. John's.

Through his freelance engagements, Brent has had the privilege of performing alongside artists such as Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Diana Krall, Tim Minchin, Lang Lang, Sinead O’Conner, Kate Ceberano, The Wiggles, Anthony Callea, the Hilltop Hoods, Katie Noonan, Gurrumul Yunupingu, and conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Edo de Waart and Michael Tilson Thomas.

As an educator, Brent is an examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) and frequently tutors percussionists of the Queensland Youth Orchestras. He has given masterclasses at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Queensland and several school workshops around Australia.  Brent teaches privately in the Brisbane area as part of the teaching faculty at Just Percussion.