Herman Matthews: Advice For Auditions

As I sit here at my computer reflecting on some of the auditions I’ve been on, it just hit me how difficult an audition can be. I know guys that give great audition, but sound like crap on the gig. On the other hand I know guys that sound like crap on the audition but play great live. For me I chalk it up to what side of the bed I woke up on that day and if the moon is in the seventh house along with Jupiter being aligned with Mars.

Sometimes you have to shake your head because it can be a crapshoot. I went on a pop audition at the end of 1999 just to help a friend fill out a band. At this audition there were more drummers there than any other instrumentalists (get used to that). I got a chance to hear a fair number of drummers play, and I was amazed. First of all, you don’t go to an audition to show off your chops. Artists want you to interpret their music. If their CD doesn’t feature a left-handed inverted paradiddle that starts off with the left foot and bounces off the cowbell, don’t try to put one in. On all of the auditions I’ve been on, I have always used the music as a guide – I don’t stray from the part on the CD unless otherwise instructed. I assume that the song is already written and I’m there to bring some life or energy to the table.

When walking into the room, come in with a smile on your face. Let them know that you’re thankful for the opportunity, you’re into the music and show some enthusiasm while you play. Never act like you are above the gig. Remember – you are auditioning. Also remember that the artist can smell fear, so never ever let them see you sweat. The artist wants a confident person in that seat. All the rest is just luck, smoke, and mirrors.

Oh, by the way I’m now the musical director for the gig. The artist name is Kina, and believe me I got lucky. The stuff that I auditioned on was like an R&B/rock feel, sort of like Tina Turner meets Alanis Morissette. It’s nothing really complicated, but solid grooves nonetheless. Here’s a taste of what they look like.

DRUM! Notation Guide

herman matthews

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