This afternoon, with the help of several Japanese friends and our personnel manager, I completed an application to audition for an orchestra in Japan. This has been a slow process of several weeks and already I'm learning a little more about what it's like to work in Japan. Luckily this orchestra's application process is very friendly to the foreigner with an instruction site and application form in English. But the style and expectations are a little different than in America.
Generally in America, the first step to applying for an orchestra audition is simply to send a one-page resume. This should reflect where one has studied, one's major teachers, musical employment, festivals, competitions, and references. Perhaps one could include chamber music positions as another category, or significant performances, etc, but only one page. Often before one sends this, perhaps as much as 3 or 4 months prior to the audition, the repertoire and specific excerpts that will be required are posted to the website. This is all done through email except for the occasional need for an audition deposit check which must be mailed.
In Japan, there is a form one must complete. Upon receipt of that application form, the orchestra will send the excerpts sometimes as little as 1 or 2 weeks before the audition. The form requires such information as whether or not one is married, whether that spouse must be supported, whether there are any dependents, the reason for applying (perhaps that one feels this orchestra is a perfect musical soulmate; or maybe just that they want a job), as well as a 4x3 cm photo which must be pasted to the page in the upper right corner. There is also an area to list Education and Work Experience and a separate one to list Musical Experience. Figuring out what was appropriate for these categories took some questioning; I did not include my work experience as a shelver at the public library, but wasn't sure if my time playing in several paid orchestras was Work or Musical Experience. And all of the experiences are listed in chronological order from the earliest to the latest, with separate entries for the beginning of study or work and leaving that study or work. I chose not to list my high school, but high school (or earlier) are where it can typically start.
Additionally, this form must be handwritten with no mistakes. Luckily there's white out. I managed to only have to use it once, but the daunting task of writing something by hand perfectly in pen was nearly enough to make me turn away in fear. And luckily, because the form was in English, I completed it in English. As per their request for foreigners, I sent my normal resume as well, with a Japanese translation to go with it. Hopefully all this will add up to to be what they want.
I'm interested to go through this process, to see what is of value based on what is asked. It's amazing to have so much personal information required on an entry application, including a photograph, something usually kept private in America to avoid any discrimination. I'm curious to see what happens next.