April 29-May 20, 2024

Personalized help from a winning team

It's been five years since we last opened our calendars for individual audition coaching sessions. Don't miss this limited opportunity to take advantage!

The best player doesn't always win the audition. Make no mistake: you need solid fundamentals to compete. But you also need the confidence that comes with knowing you won't break down under pressure. If that sounds like a tough task, then you need tough allies. How about bringing us aboard?

Nathan and Akiko

Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto,
Los Angeles Philharmonic


Learn the rules of the audition game

Random chance...

It certainly seems like you need an extraordinary slice of luck to win a violin audition: you have to guess what the committee wants to hear; you have to divine how to prepare it in time; and you have to hope that nerves don't sabotage all your hard work on the big day.

...or winning patterns?

We can't deny that luck plays into every performance. But over the last twenty years preparing, coaching, and judging countless violin auditions, we've identified winning and losing patterns. You might call them rules. Understand the rules, and you'll give yourself the best shot at winning the game.

The best-laid audition plans often go wrong

You know the basic process already, and you may have followed it faithfully. But the devil is in the details, and there are potential pitfalls at every step. Here's a common plan of attack:


Secure the list and music

We assume you've got this one covered, though we'll caution you against trusting everything you download for free!


Decide on bowings & fingerings

This is tough if you've never played the piece in an orchestra before. And even if you have, how do you know whether your choices match up with a committee's expectations? Or, more importantly, whether they'll stand up to the pressure of audition day?


Take a lesson with a pro

A great step to take, if you can arrange it! But orchestral players tend to have busy schedules, and their teaching time is valuable... if they teach at all. Not to mention that many veteran players have been out of the audition game for decades.


Play a mock audition for friends

Another great idea, though it takes careful planning if you hope to simulate the pressure of the big day. And unless you're lucky enough to have really savvy friends, you may get confusing or contradictory feedback.


Practice a ton

Putting in the hours is a given for audition prep. But our guess is that you've done that before. Audition prep requires specific practice techniques to ensure that you get the message across to the committee from the very first note of each selection... even under stress.


Focus & stay calm on audition day

Do we even need to elaborate on the potential pitfalls here? Mental centering isn't something you can reach for on an as-needed basis. It must be practiced daily. And it must be bound together with the physical requirements for each selection. Otherwise, your audition really will be a roll of the dice.

We took our first auditions that way too. But we soon developed a completely different formula: working backwards from the win.

Starting April 29, we're sharing every element of our audition preparation process. And we hope you'll join us:

Spring Audition Intensive

with Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto,
First Associate Concertmaster and Assistant Concertmaster,
Los Angeles Philharmonic

A 4-week deep dive into the tools, tactics, and strategies of winning violin auditions. From April 29-May 20, 2024

Here's what you get in the Spring Audition Intensive:

Above all, you get rare 1-on-1 time with both Akiko and Nathan, to give you what you need most to advance and win in your next audition.


To convince a committee, you have to know who they are. What do they talk about? What do their notes look like? How quickly do they decide on your playing? We've been on both sides of the screen.


Self-recording is never fun, but it's the only way to listen to yourself as a committee member would. So if you're going to go through the pain, at least make it worthwhile! We'll show you our favorite strategies.


Endless repetition is useless, if you’re just repeating faulty techniques. Discover critical left- and right-hand weaknesses while you still have time to fix them. Learn which bow strokes are non-negotiable, and which you can do without.


There are only so many hours in the day, and only so many days of practice before the big day. Plan your audition timeline so that nothing gets overlooked, but everything stays fresh and musical. How much, how many, how fast? The answers may surprise you.


As part of the Intensive, you're invited to schedule a one-hour private session with Nathan, and another one with Akiko. This is our time to hone your presentation so that you have the best chance to advance and win.


Every Monday at noon Pacific, we spend 90 minutes watching your videos of solos and excerpts, followed by our commentary and demonstration. You'll never get a clearer understanding of what winning playing looks and sounds like!

Start now and get immediate access to marked parts and videos:

Spring Audition Intensive All-Access

Intensive 3 payments

Secure a one-hour lesson with Nathan, and another with Akiko, plus:

  • Marked parts for 25+ excerpts, with:
  • Video performances/lessons for all
  • Concertmaster pack
  • Four 90-minute mock reviews
  • Lifetime access to materials
  • 7-day money-back guarantee (no refunds will be given once an individual session is completed)

3 monthly payments of $747


Intensive all-in-one

Enjoy a substantial discount by making a single payment. The same 7-day money-back guarantee applies.

1 payment of $1,997

Jessica Stinson

"Things that seemed insurmountable a few months ago feel possible with Nathan’s practical solutions-focused approach. I feel more confident when I practice because I’m seeing consistent progress, not feeling like I’m just spinning my wheels.”

Jessica Stinson, Atlanta Opera Orchestra

Seeing (and hearing) is believing

Good markings are important, but they can't play the excerpts for you. Nathan can!

Then he goes a step further and breaks down the key elements of each excerpt, including potential red flags and winning practice strategies. And you have access to the entire video library as soon as you join.

Here's an example performance and lesson from Brahms' 4th Symphony, movement 3:

As soon as you join, you'll have access to performances and lessons of the following excerpts:

Bach: Overview
Beethoven 9, mvt 3
Brahms 4, mvt 1
Brahms 4, mvt 2
Brahms 4, mvt 3
Brahms 4, mvt 4
Brahms, Piano concerto No. 1, mvt 3
Copland 3, mvt 4
Debussy, La Mer
Mahler 1, mvt 4
Mendelssohn 4, mvt 1
Mozart Concerto: Overview
Mozart 39, mvt 1

Mozart 39, mvt 2

Mozart 39, mvt 4
Mozart 41, mvt 4 (2nd violin)
Mozart, Magic Flute (2nd violin)
Prokofiev Classical, mvt 1
Prokofiev Classical, mvt 4
Romantic Concerto: Overview
Schönberg, Verklärte Nacht
Schubert 2, mvt 1
Schumann 2, mvt 2 (Scherzo)
Shostakovich 5, mvt 1
Strauss, Alpine Symphony (2nd violin)
Strauss, Don Juan

Meet Nathan and Akiko

Stand Partners for Life Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto sit at the front of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but they've taken different paths to get there! Nathan grew up in Kentucky and only discovered high-level competition when he went away to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Akiko grew up in New York with competition built in from the start. Her time at Harvard led her back to the violin and to a master's degree at Juilliard, focusing on audition preparation with New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow.

Nathan Cole blue

Nathan Cole

First Associate Concertmaster, LA Phil

Founder of natesviolin.com, Nathan has been teaching violin online for more than 15 years. His YouTube videos have captured more than 2 million views, and his group programs such as the Violympics and Summer Bach Retreat have welcomed more than a thousand participants. Author of Scales: The Road to Repertoire, Nathan enjoys working with violinists and violists of all levels, including through his high-level program The Virtuoso Master Course. Prior to his position in LA, Nathan was a member of the Chicago Symphony as well as Principal Second Violin of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition to solo appearances with the LA Phil, he frequently appears as guest concertmaster.

Akiko Disney

Akiko Tarumoto

Assistant Concertmaster, LA Phil

Akiko may lay claim to the most major audition wins in the last two decades! After four years in the LA Phil, she won a position in the Chicago Symphony, where she and Nathan first became unofficial Stand Partners. When Nathan won his current position in LA, Akiko had to re-audition there for a spot in the second violins... this time, with a screen up for the entire process. After that win, she has gone on to win first violin, 5th chair, and Assistant Concertmaster auditions, again with screens all the way through. In addition to solo appearances with the LA Phil, she appears regularly in chamber series and as a guest lecturer.

Our plan of attack

For our four live sessions (Mondays, from April 29 through May 20), Akiko and I will spend about 60 minutes sharing and analyzing your pre-recorded mock audition videos.

But we'll also teach a key part of our audition prep process each week. And remember: even if you can't make a session live, it's available to you forever as part of your lifetime access. Here are the topics we'll explore during our five sessions:

Committee Xs & Os

If we're truly going to work backwards from a win, we need to start with how committees pick winners. What does the discussion and voting process look like in different orchestras? How do committee members from various sections of the orchestra relate to you as a violinist? What qualities do winners have in common?

Dealing with nerves

Instead of shying away from talk about performance anxiety, let's embrace it! Everyone has to deal with nerves, and the sooner you accept them as a normal part of the audition process, the sooner you can build your plan to include them. Don't pretend that you'll feel comfortable on audition day; it's never happened to either of us!

Key bow strokes

No matter what instrument a committee member plays, they all respond to beautiful tone. We'll explore core sound production, then move on to the bow strokes you can't do without... plus some that send up immediate red flags to a committee.


The most powerful weapon in your arsenal, if you know how to wield it. This has been the difference-maker for Nathan over the last 20 years, yet very few players understand its power. With practice, you can experience your dream audition before ever stepping onto stage.

Nathan's encyclopedic knowledge of repertoire, and that includes solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire, is matched only by his encyclopedic knowledge of technical solutions on the instrument.

Lynn Kuo, Assistant Concertmaster, National Ballet of Canada

Even coaches need coaches

As much as we've refined our audition process over the years, we don't like to leave anything to chance. And that's just what we'd be doing if we only had our own ears to rely on.

Self-recording is a vital tool in both of our toolboxes, but there's no substitute for outside ears. So when Nathan has an audition coming up, he turns to Akiko, and vice versa.

Now, for the first time ever, you can get one-on-one time with not just one, but both of us.

Trusted ears

Nathan says, "I've spent weeks in the practice room refining an excerpt, only for Akiko to tell me within 10 seconds that I was on the wrong track." Don't leave yourself vulnerable to hearing what you want to hear. Get the straight dope from Nathan and Akiko during your own individual sessions as well as the mock audition live sessions.

No red flags

Akiko says, "It's a tough business. Your strengths matter, but your weaknesses matter even more. You have to conceal them." Many excerpts have more than one valid approach. And many a candidate has triggered instant "no" votes by pursuing an approach that isn't effective for them. Discover in seconds whether you're leaving yourself open to elimination.

2 heads are better than 1

When one of us asks you to change something during our one-one-one sessions, you'll know we bring decades of committee experience to bear. When both of us ask for the same change, you can be sure that we speak for all those committees... past, present, and future!

BONUS: Concertmaster pack
($500 value)

Concertmaster and other "title" auditions require special repertoire, and very few players are comfortable coaching it. Nathan has spent the last 20 years preparing and performing the major concertmaster solos, both from the concertmaster's chair and in auditions.

As a bonus to Spring Audition Intensive pass-holders, he's sharing a suite of videos on the major concertmaster solos. That's two hours of additional videos, with lifetime access!

Here's an example of a performance and lesson from Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade:

Plus, additional video performances and lessons on the following solos:

Bach, Mass in b, Laudamus Te
Bach, St. Matthew Passion, Erbarme Dich
Beethoven, Missa Solemnis, Sanctus (Benedictus)
Brahms, Symphony No. 1, 2nd mvt
Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade
Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra
Strauss, Ein Heldenleben
Strauss, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

Schedule your lessons and unlock access to the video library right now:

Intensive 3 payments

Secure a one-hour lesson with Nathan, and another with Akiko, plus:

  • Marked parts for 25+ excerpts, with:
  • Video performances/lessons for all
  • Concertmaster pack
  • Four 90-minute mock reviews
  • Lifetime access to materials
  • 7-day money-back guarantee (no refunds will be given once an individual session is completed)

3 monthly payments of $747

Intensive all-in-one

Enjoy a substantial discount by making a single payment. The same 7-day money-back guarantee applies.

1 payment of $1,997

Nathan's first audition: Philly Fail

"It really felt like wandering in the desert, preparing auditions during my last year in school. Of course, these were pre-social-network days, long before YouTube, so no videos. I wasn't really supposed to talk about auditions with most of my teachers and coaches. And they wouldn't have wanted to give me the wrong advice anyway. Auditions weren't their game.

"So I hoarded second-hand photocopies of someone's part to Don Juan, listened to the one 'violin audition excerpt CD' everyone had, studied old George Szell recordings... and practiced. To me it felt nonstop.

"I shouldn't have bothered. Because although I got one lesson with an orchestra member (I had to write his number in pen on the back of my hand in order to call him up), that wasn't nearly enough for me to understand what I was in for. After I was bounced, I knew it was because of the Brahms 4 last movement.

"My committee-member coach was blunt. He told me over the phone, 'You just didn't get it.'"

Nathan's takeaways

Poor planning

"Even if I had played everything exactly the way I thought it should go, it was clear to me afterward that my ideas were very different from the committee's. Not just in subtle ways, but in foundational things like sound quality, tempo, intonation... I was missing so much information."

Out of control

"I expected to be nervous, but I hadn't experienced my body reacting so differently from the practice room. So whatever plan I thought I had went out the window. I was hearing myself on stage, wondering 'Who is that playing so strangely?'"

A well-oiled machine, or a hunk of junk?

Your audition plan should function smoothly, allowing you to play your solos and excerpts as the amazing pieces of music they are.

Of course, there’s no way to guarantee yourself a win. If there were, we would never have lost an audition (and we’ve lost plenty)! But one thing is for sure: if you’re not living up to your musical ideals on audition day, then it’s time to look at breakdowns in your prep process.

Ironing in mistakes

You’ve heard the expression: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Einstein may or may not have said it, but there’s wisdom in it! I’ve seen too many players repeat their mistakes from audition to audition. We'll help you take the other fork in the road.

Losing control

It's possible to for your auditions to get worse over time as you feel less and less in control of the outcome. And while it’s true that ultimately, your fate (and everyone else’s) lies in the hands of the committee, there are tried and true practice techniques you can use to avoid common pitfalls and put yourself in that final conversation.

Getting bored

Some folks say that audition prep stunts your musical growth. We disagree. While you're going for a win, why not take your playing to another level? Because that’s what our process does for you: it awakens your senses to subtleties and details that you may never have considered before. That way, your hard work is never wasted; each audition builds on the one before.


I've got A's for your Q's

When is the course?

The "official" weeks of the Intensive are from April 29-May 20, with five live sessions each Monday from 11-12:30 Pacific Time. But you can get started as soon as you purchase, because you have immediate access to the marked parts, video lessons, and performances of 25+ excerpts. You also get immediate access to the Concertmaster pack.

When/where are the live sessions?

The 90-minute live sessions with Nathan and Akiko will take place each Monday (April 29-May 20) from 11-12:30 Pacific Time. All sessions will be on Zoom, and all will be recorded for your lifetime access. The schedule is subject to change, though we will make every effort to give you as much advance notice as possible.

How long can I access the materials?

You get lifetime access to the course materials, including marked parts, lesson and performance videos from Nathan, and videos of our live sessions. Community interactions such as posts, comments, and discussions are not guaranteed for lifetime access. Nathan and Akiko also grant you permission to record (though not to share) your individual Zoom sessions with us.

Will I need special equipment?

To participate in the live sessions, you'll just need Zoom, which works on all web browsers as well as virtually every device. We recommend a laptop or desktop for those participants who will be playing a mock audition, as the sound quality tends to be better. An external microphoe can further help your sound quality, though fast and reliable internet is the most important piece of the puzzle.

How do I schedule my live sessions?

As soon as you enroll, you'll receive a calendar link to reserve time with Nathan, and another link to reserve time with Akiko. Our preference is to schedule all sessions prior to the Los Angeles Philharmonic tour beginning May 23, but we may make individual arrangements for June sessions. All sessions must be redeemed by the end of June. We require at least 24 hours' notice for cancellation or rescheduling of individual sessions... otherwise you will forfeit that session.

What about violists?

Nathan has extensive experience teaching the standard viola concertos and excerpts from his years leading the Virtuoso Master Course. Both Nathan and Akiko have also served on viola audition committees. Violists are also welcome to participate in the weekly mock audition sessions! That said, the Spring Audition Intensive does not include marked parts or video lessons on any viola excerpts. Nor have Nathan and Akiko taken any viola auditions themselves.

Before, I’d spend hours practicing but it wasn't targeted enough to see the kind of improvements that I needed. Nathan's technique videos and etude recommendations helped me focus on the skills I needed to improve the most. He has a special ability to pinpoint and distill the most essential information incredibly clearly.

Jack McFadden Talbot, Louisville Orchestra

Money back guarantee

7-day money-back guarantee

If you're not happy with the Spring Audition Intensive for any reason, just let us know within 7 days of your initial purchase (and before you have completed any individual sessions). We'll give your money back, no questions asked!

Don't prepare another audition alone.

Your practice time is valuable. Make the most of it while giving yourself the best shot at success this spring and beyond. If you've tried everything you can think of to get past your audition roadblocks, why not try our system, with our guidance?

With lifetime access to the Audition Intensive and a 7-day money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose by joining us today and diving right into the video library.

Single Payment: $1,997
3 Payments: $747