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Audition Series #2: Staff Sergeant. Landres Bryant

What does your preparation process for an audition look like? What supplemental materials do you use to prepare? Do you tailor this process for individual auditions?

I think it's important to set very small and clear goals for each practice session and take meticulous notes. Don't leave the practice room until that goal is accomplished and your success can be replicated without fail. Verify by recording.

Divide up excerpts into ones you can kill on, ones you can get through, and ones that are a liability. Know tough spots and what you need to do EXACTLY to get through them. Leave nothing to chance. Don't just stop at technical mastery, because the point is to play excerpts convincingly not simply flawlessly.

What are some positive/ negative aspects of your playing or perspective you found in preparing for these auditions?

For this audition, I found out how terrible of a sight-reader I was. When I began to prepare, I'd grab things I thought I would be able to get through, and quickly realized how much work I had to do. It was humbling.

As for perspective, there's nothing like experiencing a badly run audition where you're mistreated. Conversely, a well-run audition makes you want to win a job. Those are the places you want to work. Those are the colleagues you want.

What would you peg as the greatest misconception about preparing for/ taking auditions?

I think auditions are vastly overstated and vastly overemphasized. Overstated because, for all the emotional baggage we attach, success or failure at them doesn't really say much about the winners or losers. Overemphasized because we're supposed to be studying and pushing the boundaries of MUSIC, not auditioning.

And to think we constantly hand-wring over the fate of our art form when WE’RE the ones abandoning it! I'd gladly replace 90% of the emphasis in my training spent on auditions/excerpts with studying music itself, broadly and liberally.

How did you cope with “failure” at auditions? How did you stay motivated while you were on the audition trail?

As a student, I was pretty successful at the professional auditions I took and I advanced at all of them. I did not, however, stay motivated. I'm probably still recovering from the burnout to this day! I think expecting to stay "motivated" for something as physically/emotionally exhausting as continuous auditions for limited positions is harmful. What we do isn't normal! It's going to take a toll. Our inability and unwillingness to address this is another gaping self-inflicted wound in our community.

On the feeling of failure, perspective is important. I really enjoy playing the Overture to A Midsummer's Night Dream [by Felix Mendelssohn]. But getting through something like that flawlessly (and completely unnoticed by anyone who isn't a brass player) feels like failure next to playing sousaphone for kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation at Disneyland, supporting a funeral for a servicemember's grieving family, or seeing my students get scholarships.

How did you determine the “right moment” to begin taking auditions? What are your thoughts on taking auditions for experience?

There was an audition drought until the junior year of my undergrad, so I took the first "big" audition that 1) accepted me and that 2) I could afford to get to. So that was my junior year for the Detroit Symphony, an open audition as I remember.

Did I show up for experience or did I show up to win? I showed up to win, prepared with that goal in mind, and advanced to the final ten. Was I delusional to think I'd win my first audition? At the time I’d never even placed into the “top” ensemble at UMich, so maybe! But I’m not sure what going into that audition "for experience" would have changed for the better.

To this day, I've advanced at every audition except the one I showed up to without a clear intention of winning.

Do you have any future goals or dream projects?

Right now, "post" covid, not really. I'm just growing fruit trees and doing a bit of resetting in other areas.


A native of West Palm Beach Florida, Landres completed degrees at the University of Michigan and Yale University before winning his current position with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in 2012.

In addition to having held fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center, Das Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival, and the Music Academy of the West, he has performed with the Baltimore Symphony, the New World Symphony Orchestra, at the Salzburg Festival, and has appeared on NPR's radio series From The Top. An avid gardener and wine collector, Landres is currently trying to fit as many fruit trees as possible into his small suburban yard. He also enjoys cooking and reading. Some of his favorite authors are Radley Balko, Steven Pinker, Mo Gawdat, Lysander Spooner, and the Chefs Floyd Cardoz and Anne Burrell.

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