I haven't taken any auditions in a few years and as I began preparing for my upcoming audition, I was really impressed with the number of resources that have become available. One of my favorites is: Forza Excerpts. And, interestingly, it is actually a product of the pandemic. Bass clarinetist and professor Rob Ault created this invaluable resource because he was frustrated when lockdown hit that his students couldn't collaborate with other musicians.
Here's the description from the website: "Forza Excerpts is a library of audio tracks of excerpts for clarinet, bass clarinet and Eb clarinet, with the clarinet part omitted. There are 75 excerpts from 36 symphonies, concert pieces, operas, ballets, and solo and chamber works." You can use either speakers or headphones to listen to the excerpts while practicing.
The cool thing about this subscription based service is that it continues to grow. Since I have joined Ault has added several excerpts. I expect he will continue to do so.
For the audio recordings, the site allows the user to adjust the pitch (A440, A442 or A443) and the tempo to allow for slow practice or various interpretations. The balance of the recordings also simulates the experience of sitting in the orchestra, in that the bassoon part is often louder than the other instruments, especially when it has a key part for you to listen to as the performer.
In addition to the excellent audio library, the service includes PDFs of the excerpts included in the site. Overall, it is an excellent service.
The experience of playing with the recordings is really helpful. Of course, it goes hand in hand with score study, disciplined practice, and listening, but offers a unique insight & feedback. The experience of playing "with the orchestra" also helps to reinforce the musicality of the excerpts and to learn the excerpt within the context of the entire orchestra.
Have you tried it? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.