the auditionhacker podcast

By rob knopper

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hi, i’m rob. i'm a percussionist in the met opera in new york city, and my goal is to help you win an orchestra audition quicker and easier than i did. during my decade-long career of (mostly) failed auditions, i've struggled through disappointment, rejection, intense nerves, and hopelessness. but i've personally overcome each of these to win my job. i've also helped musicians all over the world break through their struggles to get to finals and win auditions. with the right work ethic and preparation methods, i truly believe that anyone can win an orchestra job like mine.

Episode Date
003 - sharon sparrow's guide to audition success

sharon sparrow, flutist in the detroit symphony, wrote the book on audition prep.

literally. it's called 6 weeks to finals, and it's the only book out there, i think, that walks you through a step-by-step guide to preparing for an orchestra audition.

it feels empowering to know that there's not some magical sorcery behind winning an audition. nope: there's a clear, step-by-step strategy that anyone can follow. and it works: it's exactly how she prepared for and won her audition for the detroit symphony, and many of her students have won auditions using the same process.

i was lucky enough to speak with her about audition preparation for today's podcast. 

you'll learn:

  • how she won her job at the age of 35 while taking care of two toddlers,
  • 3 things that can earn you more yes votes from the orchestra committee, and
  • how to break down mental practice into 3 essential components.

thanks to matthieu from canada for his great question! if you want to ask a question to be answered on a future episode, go to

and to learn the 5-step audition preparation process i used to win my met opera audition, download the audition cheat sheet at

Jan 11, 2021
002 - how i won the met audition

i'll remember the day forever: may 20th, 2011.

i started the day waking up on molly yeh's couch on 96th street, and ended the day carrying two bottles of dewar's scotch whisky into a friend's apartment to celebrate something i never thought i could achieve.

that day changed my life. it still boggles my mind that it happened.

well, to be honest, it actually didn't start that morning.

it started in mid-january of that year, when i received the repertoire list in the mail about 4 months before audition day.

i remember opening the packet of music. it was LONG. there were 54 excerpts on the list including 3 solo works.

between january and may of that year i worked harder than i ever have before. over 4 months, i went through a carefully designed series of steps meant to learn and polish the excerpts, and trained myself to perform them consistently at a high level.

auditions aren't a mystery. they're not a magical art. auditions are something that you can learn and master.

the key to mastering audition preparation is to build and develop a better set of steps between the day you get the list and the day of the audition.

i truly believe that i don't have any kind of innate talent. what sets me apart is that i developed an audition preparation process that brought my playing to a high level on that one day.

my process consists of 5 major steps, and it's what i'll go over in detail on today's episode. if you'd like to follow along while you listen, download my audition cheat sheet at

in this episode, .you'll learn about:

  • what happened the moment i heard that i won the audition,
  • my biggest audition struggles (including nerves) and how i overcame them, and
  • the 5 steps of my audition preparation process that led to my winning audition.

i also answered an awesome question submitted by richard. thanks richard!

if you want to ask a question to be answered on a future episode, go to

and please leave a rating and review! i'd love to hear your feedback and ideas for future episodes.

Jan 07, 2021
001 - how to hack auditions

if you get rejected from an audition, should you just practice the exact same way and try again?


to me, auditions are just a game. you prepare for audition day in a particular way, and you test that particular system of preparation by going to the audition and seeing what happens. once it's over, you carefully analyze what happened, brainstorm tweaks to your audition preparation process, and try again using a new and improved system. the most important thing you can do is tweak the details of how you actually practice.

in today's episode, i'll go over:

  • my audition journey and how i ended up winning the met opera job,
  • 3 of my favorite audition hacks, and
  • the one thing that's so much more meaningful than the result of the audition.

thanks to laura from brussels for her awesome question! if you want to ask a question to be answered on a future episode, go to

and to learn the 5-step audition preparation process i used to win my met opera audition, download the audition cheat sheet at

Jan 03, 2021
official trailer: the auditionhacker podcast

welcome to the auditionhacker podcast!

my name is rob knopper, i'm an audition coach and percussionist with the met opera, and i'll be your host. 

EVERYONE struggles with audition rejection at some point or another. but if you're deadset on winning an orchestra job, then i'm here to help. no matter what audition obstacle you're struggling with, there's an answer. my goal is to help you discover all the best practice strategies that worked for me and other great musicians to perform at an elite level and win an orchestra audition.

to ask me an audition question, go to

and if you'd like to learn how i prepared for my met orchestra audition, download the 5-step audition cheat sheet at

Dec 20, 2020