Saturday, January 4, 2014

Welcome to My View as a Bassoonist: Bassoonist With a View

Greetings all who have chosen to read these words! 

Welcome to my blog - my "professional" blog - and my thoughts as a professional musician.  I know that blogging has gotten very popular and everyone and their reed has a blog these days.  I have spent many hours reading the blogs of fellow musicians and bassoonists.  Sometime they are great!  Sometimes you spend 10 minutes reading about the taper of a bassoon shaper and experimental hand profiling and you think to yourself, "Oh my gosh!  Why am I reading this?" 

Likely those same thoughts may cross your mind while reading this blog. 

But I hope not!

First, allow me to draw your attention to all my labels featured on the right-hand-side column.  I wrote, in real time, a 17-part series about my quest to win an audition.  If you are currently on the audition circuit, I invite you to experience my auditions as I did.  All the dark and horrid thoughts that accompany too many losses.  If you think you are the only one eating a 1/2 gallon of ice cream in a cheap hotel room whilst watching a Lifetime movie and obsessing about the note you cracked in your Brahms excerpt...well...YOU'RE NOT! 

I've been there, I've done that.  Read it and weep.  More importantly, read my audition posts and learn some valuable lessons about taking and managing the ups and downs a many auditions.  Read them and gain hope!  This industry is not about who is most talented, it's about who works the hardest and sticks around the longest. 

I also posted my notes from the fantastic panelists I listened to while attending the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in 2012.  These seasoned professionals gave invaluable advice about navigating the highly competitive world of classical music.  You can find them under the label IWCMF.

Finally, I will be posting new content regarding my work here in Montana, being a bassoonist, and the field of classical music in general. 

My hope for this blog is to be part of a positive campaign for classical music and classical musicians.  I feel like we, as a field, have generated a lot of negativity in the past few seasons with bad press and horrible labor disputes.  At the core of what is wrong with our industry is the horrible realization that the average American doesn't know what we do for a living and certainly doesn't value it. 

I want my story, found in this blog, to share the facts of being a professional musician and the joy of being part of a truly unique profession.  I believe the best thing we can do as musicians is educate, educate, educate!  Whether training young students, creating the next generation of concert goers, or just taking the time to explain to your dental hygienist what a bassoon is; we have a responsibility to create VALUE in what we are doing and in so doing, keep our profession alive.

To that end I present to you my blog, full of my views, Bassoon With a View!

Happy reading and best wishes,

Publisher's Panel IWCMF

IWCMF 2012: Publisher's Panel
Publishers Panel

Hosted by Mohammad Fairouz, I think this was intended for the composers, but we attended and learned a lot!

Fairouz prefaced the panel by sharing how his teacher, Gyorgy Ligeti, took Fairouz to Hamburg to experience Schott and introduce him to the world of publishing.
  • publishers need to see a compelling body of work with the potential for a long term future to consider taking on a composer
  • publishers are there for business ($$$) not to give out handouts
  • piracy has required publishers to be very selective and demanding because they are loosing revenue caused by piracy
  • re: composer/publisher relationship
    • composers still need to create their own "buzz"
      • do your own legwork
      • continue to self-promote
    • publishers are necessary
      • self-publishing will become impractical with composer success
    • digital music stand/E-Stand is not good yet, still impractical
    • digital only distribution is risky; still need print distro
      • What will still work in 100 years?  Paper!
    • publishing is not limber, they can't anticipate the size of the screen needed/desired in the future for long-term digital use
  • A good editor/publisher = easy rehearsal
    • page turns
    • accidentals
    • markings
    • readability
    • a good publisher goes unnoticed because everything runs smoothly; a bad publisher gets a lot of complaints from musicians
  • Distributors
    • get music into store
    • Hal Leonard = exclusive print distributor for Associated
    • Presser = associated with Carl Fischer allowing hand off of certain services
  • Quality output of an edition has a real, measurable affect on the success and acceptance of a piece!
  • "No one lives on royalties!"
    • Composer revenue:
      • day job (university faculty)
      • commissions
      • small royalties
      • misc other earnings
  • Music with preexisting text must have copyright approval for use
    • don't create the work and assume the copyright will "be fine"
  • High quality archival recording
    • don't just possess it, be sure to reserve the rights to use it
    • you can skirt the issues of use with a "limited use" clause to distinguish between use for distribution and use for performers, submissions, etc.
  • Pedagogical texts/materials
    • get famous!
      • Jeanne Baxtressor submitted her excerpts with 30 years of markings and annotations from playing in the NYPhil, now her excerpt book is her "greatest income earner"
    • create demand
    • recognize demand/necessity

Cliff Colnot IWCMF

Cliff Colnot

I think this may have been my favorite guest lecture.  His perspective and approach to being a career musician was very real and very practical.  After I'm done transcribing my notes, I will go back and draw some conclusions with commentary from all the lectures comprehensively.  Suffice it to say, Dr. Colnot's comments resounded with me because of what I have experienced, read about, and observed.  I recall that this was not one of the better attended events and it only lasted an hour.  So for those who missed it, enjoy my notes!

  • bassoonist, teacher, conductor, composer, arranger
  • at 30 years old, he quit his faculty job at Northwestern (because it was making him cynical) to take an unpaid internship for a commercial music company
    • this led to a paid job and then to the creation of his own company
  • the reality is, there is ageism in our industry
    • be versatile in different genres
    • don't get into a situation/"job" that will make you cynical, move on regardless of your age
  • don't find yourself in a "concentrated position"
    • i.e. having one job with one employer with one salary
      • orchestra job
      • university faculty
    • there is no "right" or "wrong" for your career
    • don't let one thing/experience make or break you
    • be adept and involved in many things
      • orchestral work
      • teaching
      • creating your own ensemble
      • arranging/composing
  • [Question asked] How important is talent?
    • "You need an adequate level of talent."  
    • Enough talent to be competitive
      • He stopped playing bassoon because he lacked adequate talent to make adequate reeds
    • more important though are the extra-musical skills
      • ability to focus
      • don't be defensive
      • be social
      • be on time
      • "Let me try that!"
      • have genuine curiosity
      • make NO excuses (too tired, dog died etc.)
  • [Question I asked]  What are your thoughts on the current orchestral industry?  Do you think they will ever value extra-musical skills as part of the audition process?
    • Not a good outlook for U.S. contract orchestras.
    • educational outreach for most U.S. orchestras is "disgenuine" and used to secure grants
    • this will never change and these organization will fail because of it
  • [Question asked] How do you stay relevant?
    • program very carefully
      • concerts should be 60-90 min at most
      • free tickets
      • increase demographic appeal and accessibility
  • [Question asked]  How do you identify a "worthwhile" endeavor?
    • When something becomes sloppy - STOP!

Career Development IWCMF

Career Development Panel

(Click on the links especially Jean Cook's to see the very interesting research she has done on revenue streams for the arts/artists.)

Richard Kessler (Dean of Mannes)
  • Old way of working in music = pursuing music for pure quality without regard for broader vision and considerations.
  • New way = Entrepreneurship = chamber music = management and business acumen; understand ALL aspects of business as a primary requirement, these skills need to be the new practical "core" to training
  • I failed to write down who the following Zones were created by, he read them from a speech (?), let me know if anyone remembers where this part of Mr. Kessler's comments came from:
    • Zone 1 A - empower (personal) resumes,  auditions
    • Zone 1 B - D. I. Y. (Do It Yourself) Culture - unique personal qualities, create a brand, mission, vision, presentation
    • Zone 2 A - make career for yourself and others, portfolio, pulling many diverse paths together
    • Zone 2 B - creating 501(c)3, build entities and organizations
    • Zone 3 A - socially directed with social/artistic purpose
    • Zone 4 A - Create totally unique, niche 501(c)3 based on community need
    • Zone 4 B - create commercial entity for profit
  • Orchestra industry - currently orchestra managers can't cover expenses with donors and ticket sales, suffering from declining audiences
Jean Cook
  • Arts Revenue Streams Projects
  • 29 ways to make music
  • (I noticed in her presentation something I saw trending in our research when we were creating Utah Wind Symphony, something *magical* happens in the 4th year/season of an arts organization.  Likely due to funding, much of which require you to be a 501(c)3 for 3 years before applying for many grants.  I wasn't able to ask her about this during the panel unfortunately.)
Amy Frowley (Concert Artists Guild)
  • Entrepreneurship = starting a business at your own risk; undertake to organize and manage
  • Learn the extra-musical skills in some way while you are still mastering the musical skills
  • DIVERSITY!  Regardless of your emphasis/genre, be aware of everything else.
  • Communicate with others - donors, audience, collaboration
  • CAG competition
  • Marketing - Phyllis Chen - DMA - radio show - toy pianists - commissions for toy piano - toy piano festival 
  • Hone aesthetic and identity
  • 1,00 True Fans 
    • focus on business around 1,00 fans instead of just trying to get our there en masse
Panel discussion/Conclusions
  • university training creates a lot of doubt and fear in music students whereas coming to a festival like Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival creates hope, connections, POSSIBILITIES. 
  • push the standards for writing and communication, function like a journalist
  • Open your ears and eyes, develop a network, ask questions, talk to people, read articles, stand on your own 2 feet

Edna Landau IWCMF

Guest panelist during my Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival experience, August 2012

Musical America: Ask Edna

One of our first guest lectures was with Edna Landau, celebrated artist manager and now blogger, who shared her personal story about arts management and savvy career advice for emerging musicians.  What follows are the notes I took which spoke to me in my career:

No doesn't always mean no in the musical profession
  • Have a personal vision and a business plan with projections
  • "If you aren't going to invest in yourself, you can't expect someone else to."
    • do whatever it takes; regardless of your financial situation
  • don't approach management until you have income potential
    • why am I interesting?
    • why am I worth someone's time?
    • what is my hook?
  • How to attract attention:
    • credentials
    • nice person, gracious demeanor
    • niche material
    • convey excitement and humility
    • incentivize (contests)
    • show an active schedule
    • innovative engagement
    • commission new works with audience appeal
    • create a sign-in book, email lists, cultivate your audience
    • use all social media, discriminating, presenting only what makes you look good
  • Funding
    • kickstarter
    • indiegogo
    • fiscal sponsor - 501(c) that accepts funds on your behalf, keeps a small percentage, disburses remaining to you while allowing tax exemption for your donors
      • take funding VERY SERIOUSLY, do not be casual
  • Find management/presenter that is passionate about you and your work
    • better to work with a presenter who is happy to make time for you than to work with a big name that is too busy to invest
  • Accessible programming'
    • know your audience
    • engage with your audience, tell them things they don't already know
    • don't ever program ALL new music, include works that are "familiar"
  • Attract an audience
    • celebrity
    • food
    • special surprise
  • Get your career going!
    • why am I special?
    • learn every facet of your industry!
    • go to lots of concerts; especially genres you don't perform
    • chamber music America
    • mailing lists
    • keep press kit/bio current
    • go to programs that will get you noticed
    • take the management competitions/auditions
    • commissions/premier new works
    • explore new venues
    • create new worlds
    • take every opportunity to play - even for free!
    • have a demo you can hand someone not just an .mp3 you can email
    • business cards
    • present/partner with a cause you care about

Most people don't get it - Life as a Freelance/Aspiring Musician

Originally blogged April 12, 2012

Are you still unclear on what I do for a living?
Feel free to get to know me better!

I have to admit that at 31, I'm still amazed by how little people understand about how I spend my time.  Even people who trained in the arts don't really know how freelancers spend their day.  My son thinks I sit on facebook all day...

I can't even imagine what the rest of my family honestly thinks about my "career."

The general public?  At one of my trio gigs a woman asked what we did for a living.  We all smirked and said, "We do this."  She kind of laughed and questioned again, "No, I mean, what do you do during the day?"  Her incredulity that we were "real live" musicians was disheartening.  Especially since she hadn't purchased a ticket to hear our performance.  

The fact is, there are so many careers that are just easier!  That's not to minimize what other people do for a living.  Totally free from exaggeration, I'm confident in saying that being a musician is uniquely challenging.  For many with a bachelors degree from any state university, they will enter their career field earning $40K/year and will see gradual and consistent increases in pay despite changes to their employer.  They will purchase a home, have kids, lease cars, go on vacations, throw money into a retirement account, get an online masters degree from U of Phoenix, earn more money, and barring complete incompetence, continue to advance in their careers.  Certain adjustments may need to be made as the economy dictates but otherwise they will remain employable and maintain their ever increasingly expensive lifestyle.  They will juggle the demands of home, work, church, spouse(s), children, aging parents, and progress through the expected vicissitudes of life.

Then there are musicians.  We have careers that, quite honestly, seem completely ill advised and closer related to an addictive gambler than a well thought out career path.  Racked with huge amounts of debt, musicians will go further into debt competing for jobs that pay $20,000 a year.  They don't buy their first home until well into their 30's (if they are lucky) and when they all but give up - they choose to enter academia but only after getting one more overpriced degree which makes them grouchy and bitter.  Most musicians with a bachelors in music performance will abandon the field, fleeing for greener pastures with a faster payoff in finance, law, computers, and education.  A few who stick it out will win jobs, not always because they are the best but because they held on the longest.  Still fewer will actually land their dream job somewhere in their 30's and then spend the next 30 years fighting to keep their salary while hoping and praying their organization doesn't fold - thus forcing them back into the market with younger, fresher musicians. 

If you want to know what I do for a living, read this:

This is the cliff notes version to what it's like being a professional musician.  It's not a complaint for me.  I feel blessed every day for each gig I play and every check that comes my way.  I'm one of the luckier ones. It's simply reality - it's what I LOVE and have trained to do for almost 20 years.  It's why: I don't volunteer in my son's class, only see a beach and stay in a hotel when I'm on an audition, why we haven't taken a "real" vacation as a family though we have spent thousands on auditions, a trip to see family in Michigan is an exotic vacation and I NEVER go without my bassoon.  All our extras go towards audition flights, a new bocal, and my own ensembles.  It's why at 2:38 today, after a morning gig and before an afternoon rehearsal, I'm cramming in more practice time and reed making.  So I can spend at least one hour tonight with my son before he goes to bed.  It's also why his birthday party was rescheduled 3 times last year and why he hates seeing me walk into my studio on Saturdays and head out for evening rehearsals.  It's not a complaint but it is reality.  At 31 I'm still trying to "get a job." 

This explains why I have stayed in the Army for 12 years despite 4 back surgeries and my constant fear they will just kick me out.

If you wonder why I'm only ever half available or neurotically checking my calendar for double bookings or wonder why you can't always catch me on my phone, don't take it personally!  It's just that I have been pursuing this for a looooooooong time.  I'm not ready to give up.  Until I do obtain something that resembles "the dream job" I'm going to be a little distracted.

Last night I had a reoccurring conductor nightmare, the same one I have been having for almost a year.  Dreams like this are the reason I have insomnia.  Losing 2-3 nights of sleep per week.  Is this serious to me?  You better believe it!  
T he next time you see your local orchestra asking for donations, don't assume it's going to fatten already large salaries for people who "just do it for the love of music."  Remember that these are highly trained professionals who have made incredible personal sacrifices, have alienated friends, missed life events, forgotten birthdays and anniversaries, passed up on "real day jobs" to live like ascetics, have only traveled when an audition came up, and aren't interested in joining in on a family cruise because it will cut into practice time.  We aren't late bloomers, or debauchees, or immature, uninterested in commitment, afraid to take on adult responsibility.  Quite the opposite: we are resolute, determined, disciplined, and have faced years of rejection because we literally live on a hope and a dream that ALL the work will finally pay off...for a job...making $20,000 a year...assuming the orchestra doesn't fold with the next contract negotiation. 

Audition Thoughts Part 17

Originally blogged December 5, 2012 This was a hard post to write because I had to acknowledge many things about myself, my career, my ability to prepare for an audition, and the reality that I lost an opportunity partially because of things I can't control and partially because of things I could have controlled.

 In 1998 I headed out to BYU as a music performance major.  I lasted exactly 6 months as a student at BYU.  One of the absolute highlights of my short time as a student in Utah was our almost weekly trips up to Salt Lake City to see the Utah Symphony concerts.  At 18 years old, they were the best orchestra I had ever heard live (in my 18 year old opinion.)  The Utah Symphony just seemed an absolutely musical gem (and I still think they are) and I vowed that I would someday play with the Utah Symphony.

Fast forward 15 years and an unexpected return to the state of Utah.  Five years of living in Utah, going to school in Utah for my graduate degree, free-lancing around Salt Lake City, and even performing as a sub with the Utah Symphony.  We purchased a home thinking that Salt Lake City was going to be our final destination and then, inexplicably, I won a job in Montana with a requisite move.  BUT on the horizon remained an opportunity to win a job with Utah Symphony because the second bassoon spot in Utah Symphony had opened and would be auditioned.

I know that every audition is a crap-shoot, a lottery, a game of chance and luck.  For every musician there is that one audition that you just REALLY want a chance at because you can feel the win - or at least the hope of a win .  The Utah Symphony audition was definitely my one audition that I really wanted a chance to win.  I mean, let's be honest, it was a long-shot but so is EVERY audition...and stranger things have happened.

The truth is...augh...I'm going to have to admit it.  For  a job I really wanted, I did not prepare.  I don't mean that I felt unprepared, I mean I was not prepared.  I had the list months in advance and looked at it and saw that there were a few excerpts I would really need to address.  Bit I didn't.  Why?  Because I was completely ensconced in the job I have here in Montana and I simply didn't know how to master the new skill of: hold down current job and prepare for bigger job.  That's an advanced skill that they definitely never teach you in school.  They teach you to win one job, not manage one job AND land a new, much more demanding job.
I think there was some self-sabotage happening.  Two weeks before the audition I decided it might be good to open the attachments in the email that invited me to the audition and realized that I was a few weeks past the deadline to send in my audition intent form.  Part of me wrote it off but I decided to email the APM (a colleague I knew and had played in a quintet with) and ask her if she would accept it late...which of course she did.  At which point I decided I needed to get serious and start into audition prep.  But then concerts and rehearsals and life and *POOF* it was four days before the audition I was down to THE WIRE to get it together!

Then the storm hit - like, one of the biggest in Montana history - and they don't clear the roads in Montana because it "never" sticks.  Except it did this time.  Four days passed and I never even saw a snow plow BUT I got in a ton of practice time.  Perhaps even enough to be competitive.  I emailed the APM and she graciously moved my time to the second day of auditions to give Montana Department Of Transportation some extra time to SEND OUT A FREAKIN' PLOW.  Which they did not.  With below freezing temperatures, ice covered roads, and no salt or plows, wemy husband and I did a trial drive to see if we could reach I-15.  What we learned is that it was treacherous and with all the mountain passes not cleared, I was facing the very real possibility of ending my life in pursuit of my *dream* audition.

I believe firmly that nothing happens without purpose.  I have seen this to be true in my life over and over again.  I don't know why I fell in love with the Utah Symphony so many years ago.  I have seen many amazing orchestras but never vowed to play with any of them except the USO.  I don't know why after 5 years in the SLC market, the spot opened and then I won a job out of state.  I don't know why I couldn't get my sh** together earlier to prepare for the audition the same way I have tackled auditions in the past.  I don't know why the weekend of the audition I did finally pull it together while a blizzard raged all around us.

All I know is that, in the end, I didn't go to that audition.  I have a job that, as it turns out, I love a WHOLE LOT.  We live in a city with good schools - way better than SLC schools.  The air is clean.  There is essentially no crime.  I'm perfectly happy with where I am right now.

I know there has to be a purpose and reason to it all.  I know that God once flooded the earth to get a message to His children that they needed to get their act together.  I know that I am very hard headed and so, maybe, God sent me a blizzard to let me know that where we are, right now, is exactly where we need to stay and instead of taking auditions I need to focus on what I'm doing and just be grateful for what I have.  What I have is quite a lot. 

And I am grateful.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Audition Thoughts Part 16

Originally blogged June 3, 2013

I don't think there will ever be a day when we hop on the plan to go somewhere exotic for vacation.  Knowing this, I have learned to try and enjoy every audition trip like a small, tax deductible vacation.  When I saw the audition post for Naples Phil I had two thoughts: this would be a good audition to take, it would be a fantastic reason to hang out with my best friend.

It's important to realize that I'm not at all eager to leave my wonderful position and our very happy life here in Great Falls.  However, taking auditions is just part of what musicians do - like going to the dentist to keep your teeth in good health.  Auditions keep you aware, relevant, and every once in a while even give you the opportunity to move into a "better" position.  The reality is, because of my responsibilities here and being busy with life, I simply did not prepare this audition the way I have prepared others.  I spent only a few practice sessions learning the surprisingly large number of non-traditional excerpts they had on the list.

Once there, I was so consumed with happiness to be with my best friend that I really didn't care about what happened with the audition.

We woke up on Sunday morning, shared Cuban pastries and fresh fruit as a family, sat out on the patio, went to Mass and then got on the road to head over to Naples.

Our hotel in Naples was absolutely stunning!  Arriving on the Gulf Coast for four days it was near impossible to remember that I was there to "work" and not just play in the ocean, eat food, and lounge in hot tubs and pools.

I think those could be used to make contrabassoon reeds!

View from our balcony.


Monday morning was the prelim round for the audition.  It was HOT & HUMID but the prelim list was standard so I just focused on playing the excerpts the way I know they need to be played and looked forward to hitting the beach and eating some great food when it was done.  I really felt nothing about the audition.  I was grateful for the opportunity to put my audition skills to the test.  I knew I could play all the excerpts well, and I trusted that going through the motions would, at the very least, highlight any deficiencies I might want/need to address. I have noticed that my playing over the past season has improved vastly in many areas including my ability to run through standard excerpts at a high level.  However, I was truly SHOCKED when my number was called to advance to semi-finals!

I have learned a LOT over the past 15 auditions and prayer before an audition is a must.  Not because you ask God to win, but because you ask God to give you peace with whatever is about to happen.

I went back to the hotel room and after N. left to play her audition, I immediately pulled out all the excerpts I had NOT prepared with diligence.  I texted my Guru who agreed to do a "cell-phone-hotel-room" lesson later in the afternoon. I practiced for a few hours and then welcomed the rest once N. returned from her audition.  We did a little shopping until I needed to be back for my rather hasty cellphone lesson.  It was amazing to connect with my bassoon Guru and review all the excerpts in detail.  It made me a little sad that I had not been more diligent with my preparation as I realized that I had a very real shot at winning a job that pays twice what I make now.  My Guru and I discussed the challenge of constantly going after "the job" versus enjoying the peace of accepting where you are at.  My Guru is amazing!  I can't help but realize how her mentoring has changed my life - inspiring me to see what I am capable of and helping to navigate my path toward achieving those dreams.  I know that I have been blessed by her wisdom and insight countless times and giving me a lesson/pep-talk over the phone was just another amazing reminder of how incredible it is to even have a Bassoon Guru in my life. 

The next morning I was a mess!  I allowed myself to imagine winning the job and then started obsessing about the implications: my current signed contract, another move, cost of living, public schools etc. etc. etc.

N. led me in an incredible devotional that reminded me that God was looking over this whole experience and that a closed door in Naples simply meant an open door somewhere else.  It was wonderful to kneel in prayer again, surrendering to His will and finding peace in knowing that I had nothing to lose.  The semi-finals, exactly as I had anticipated was all about the excerpts I had not prepared.  I knew I was sunk with Beethoven 9 but I still enjoyed the process, the new dress my husband allowed me purchase for advancing, and meeting a fantastic fellow bassoonist while waiting for results.

With the relief of another audition in the bag and a modicum of success to report, N. and I headed out to the beach and to explore Naples.  It is a gorgeous city but HOT & HUMID!  I have been living in the mountain west for long enough to be absolutely traumatized by that kind of humidity.  Great Falls, Montana --> Naples, Florida is probably the most extreme difference I have ever traveled between: weather, culture, demographics.

Chillin' in the Seattle airport...

I want to record my final thoughts on audition #15.

There are certain things which seem to ensure that I will do well at an audition:
  1. Purchase a new home
  2. Put a home under contract
  3. Travel with a loved one
  4. Give up completely on any idea that I will win/that I have control
  5. Have total faith in God that only if it's His plan, will it happen for me
  6. Practice...all the excerpts
There are certain things which seem to ensure that I will not do well at an audition:
  1. Care a lot about winning
  2. Start thinking about home values and cost of living
  3. Fret over changing schools for my son and IEP meetings
  4. Fail to prepare the ENTIRE rep list
  5. Manage my time poorly and not carve out the time required to prepare the rep list
  6. Make last second reed changes
All in all, after updating my running list of auditions, I see that the last three auditions have gone VERY well for me.  It transformed my perspective on living in Great Falls.  What felt like the ONLY option now feels like a choice as I realize that I am good enough to compete for higher paying jobs.  I'm not in any rush to leave but now I know that if there comes a time when we feel ready to leave, I will be equal to the challenge.

I feel strongly about the importance of having a support system in place for these auditions.  Seeing the success of my last 3 auditions I have to acknowledge that for those three auditions I had family with me (including my best friend who I consider family.)  Sitting in a hotel room before and after auditions, feeling lonely and trapped in the anxiety before the audition and then the frustration after the audition is a dark place.  Being with someone who can help temper that and keep you in perspective is invaluable.  This audition confirmed for me that if I want to take an audition seriously, I need to bring someone in my support system with me. 

Audition Thoughts Part 15

Originally blogged June 13, 2012

Auditions Part DONE! ...for now...

Where every adventure begins: early in the morning with skies that promise the possibility of anything.

We arrived in Omaha just in time to be greeted by torrential rain, an incredible lightening storm, and even hail!  The Boy was beyond excited to see this weather brewing on the outskirts.

The audition went well!  I played all the excerpts and then stood up to leave but was asked to go back to replay the third excerpt (from Brahms 3.)  This surprised me and in that moment I got flustered.  Fortunately I was not nervous for the audition at all - and I did not take the beta blocker.  I was nervous during breakfast and in the car ride over but once I got into the warm up room and then onstage, I really felt fine.

My guru informs me that the panel will only ask you to replay an excerpt if members of the panel intend to vote for you.  These were good indications of a well played audition.  In most of my auditions I have been stopped early (minus Louisiana but having done that one twice, I think they just let everyone play all the excerpts.)    I'm trying to remember if I played all of them for Birmingham.  Maybe.  But this definitely marks the next step in my audition progress.

I had to wait almost 2 hours in the warm up room to play.  That was very a-typical in my experience.  Plus there was ample time in the group room.  Fortunately, I was able to catch up on all the latest audition gossip.  Two of the bassoonists who advanced in Alabama played in my group and both advanced in Omaha as well.  One went on to win the Alabama audition and I imagine, he likely won Omaha as well.  I heard his Alabama audition and it was flawless.  Honestly, it has inspired me to achieve a higher level audition since I heard it a few weeks ago.

I have been cautioned not to listen to what is happening around me in auditions.  While it can be distracting in the moment, listening to others at auditions has motivated me to play better, hold myself to a higher standard and informed my concept of what is popular on the audition circuit.  That is the educational nature of the audition: not just learning from what happens to you on stage but learning from what happens to others.  This is why there is/needs to be a HUGE emphasis on attending auditions.  When you hear and meet your competition - and you see many of the same musicians during one audition season - you learn quickly where you fit in the crowd.

The best part of this audition is that regardless of what happened, I had a job secured for the fall.  Just guessing now, but probably of the 36 bassoonists who attended, they advanced 8 - 10 into semi finals with 1 person winning or 2 people earning a trial.  While those who advanced and those who won likely enjoyed an incredible sense of hard-earned and deserved accomplishment; in the end, only 1 will secure the position.  But of the 8-10 who felt for a moment that they had risen to the top, 9 will head back to school, or free-lance work, or day jobs.  Fortunately, I will begin my first salaried orchestral position in September.  That is the lottery of auditions.  One week you win one, the next week  you don't even advance.  This is why you MUST take as many as you can - for that one day when everything aligns in your favor.  
These are the EXACT things my Guru has been teaching me since my first audition in 2008 and in the four years I have been auditioning, these are the realities I have come to experience first hand.


This is where every adventure ends: feeling exhausted and burned out.  As usual, it was wonderful to pull into our hazy Salt Lake Valley, unload the car, make dinner in my beautiful new kitchen and simply count the abundance of blessings in our lives.  We are blessed beyond comprehension.

Today officially begins my summer.  Here's my summer activities as they currently stand:
  • reed making -  LOTS of reed making, reeds for a principal bassoon player
  • orchestral rep prep -  getting all the rep for next season into my fingers
  • Trio de Bois rep prep -  tackling Villa-Lobos and preparing for our trip to Juilliard to work with the Imani Winds
  • national guard - 'tis the season for outdoor concerts, weekend tours, parades, and lots of drill - always grateful when free lance gigs become sparse and national guard gets busy
  • beginner bassoon class in American Fork -  3 weeks of forming the next generation of bassoonists
  • renting out our home - finding suitable renters who won't destroy our completely redone property
  • renting a new home in Great Falls - finding time to head up there to look for a rental home for the season
  • securing a new job for the hubby - no PepBoys in Great Falls so he's on the market and submitting resumes everywhere
  • moving - AGAIN!  Packing up and reducing even though we really have very little due to the four others moves we have undertaken since 2007.
  • do fun things with the boy - somehow, somewhere we always manage to fit in the fun stuff
I did formally resign from Utah Wind Symphony...but that is a whole other post.  Otherwise, I think my summer should be suitably productive!

Audition Thoughts Part 14

This post will accomplish two goals.  1 - share pics from our awesome trip to Montana...where I won a job!  2 - explore my thoughts and feelings after winning the audition and preparing for another audition after winning the audition.

Saw this in Helena, the capitol city of Montana and got a laugh out of it.  Below is a pic of what will be our new state capitol when we become residents of Montana.

This week has been bizarre.  I have gone through a range of emotions.  Excitement at winning, stupor at the idea of moving --again, narcissism because of all the congratulations I have received and the many wonderful conversations with people wanting to know all about it, and finally fear over not being able to do well in the position and uprooting our family for my professional goals.

This week has made me very hyper-aware of my playing.  Much more than I usually am.  As I sat through trio rehearsals and Utah Wind Symphony rehearsals I kept thinking, "Is that how a principal bassoonist would play that?"  Every time I made a mistake I thought, "Well, that won't get you tenured anywhere!"  I received the rep list for next season and realized how much work I have to do this summer to get ready so I don't show up unprepared.  I'm also thinking again that I should go back to darker reeds.

I also feel exhausted - from my soul to my head and down to my toes.  I have prepared 4 auditions in 5 weeks.  I have done this amount before but not so close together.  Yesterday after trio rehearsal I had the following texting conversation with my Guru:

Me:  Augh, I'm really close to backing out from this audition trip to Omaha on Sunday.  just tell me what to do.

Guru: Go!!!!  That's an order!  Haha!  You're on a roll!

Me:  Sigh...okay...I'm going.  Thank you!

Guru:  :)  I will think of you working hard while I am playing in the ocean...

Me:  Now that's just straight mean!  LOL!

The point is, I have had a very hard time gearing up for ONE MORE audition when I feel like I've won the perfect job for me right now.  Plus, this week has been crazy with national guard, trio rehearsals, Utah Wind Symphony finale concert, and family visiting.  My practice time has been very limited and very frantic AND there is 1 excerpt I've NEVER prepared and another one I haven't prepared since last year.  

But then there is that nagging idea that...maybe I could win it.  Just maybe. 

That's what keeps musicians hot on the audition trail.  The idea that *just maybe* they could win this one.

This audition on Monday is going to be a whole new experience.  My husband, and son, and dog are ALL coming along for the ride.  I really, REALLY don't care what happens.  I always say that but for this one, I seriously don't care.  I am not going to take a beta blocker.  This is merely an experiment because I am wondering if the beta blocker is inhibiting my playing.  Also, in many ways I feel extremely prepared - minus two excerpts.  A lot of the excerpts I think I could play in my sleep.  My Guru has told me many times that I should be able to wake up at 2 am, sit down and play the excerpts (I swear my Guru has a secret wish to be a Drill Sergeant.  If there was a musical boot camp, she would run it.) and I feel like I have achieved that for many of them.  I'm not crazy about my reeds, they all feel bright and I know I need a darker sound for these second auditions but I needed a brighter reed for UWS and trio this week and THEREIN lies the challenge of reed-making:  the difference between what you are doing at home and what you need to do at an audition.  I'm really blessed with an abundance of good reeds and I've never really had an audition where I didn't like my reeds.  This week though, I might be less than pleased with my reed selection.  Fortunately, I can always dig deeper into the reserves.

Our Montana trip was beyond stunning!  

When we got to Tremonton on Monday the haze from Salt Lake Valley was already visible.  It made me want to move to Montana immediately.

Audition Thoughts Part 13 "Lucky #13"

Originally blogged June 3, 2012

This was my 13th audition. I am still going to attend the Omaha audition next week. Because you never know...

The night after the audition was definitely a sleepless night. The excitement of winning, the realization of uprooting our family, the excitement of winning. I feel like I have been given membership to a very elite club: the club of musicians who somehow manage to win an audition. It still strikes me as a little random, the outcome of these auditions, but I'm not complaining...this time;-)

The final round of this audition lasted 45 minutes. It began with a rehearsal of the Devienne Trio and Francaix Quatour with the other principal winds. Then the rest of the panel entered and I played more excerpts, the screen had of course been removed. I was asked to replay one of the excerpts slower which I'm not entirely sure I accomplished. At this point I had embouchure fatigue which shocked me and gave me a little trouble. Next I "performed" the chamber pieces - that went great! Finally, I had an interview with the whole panel. The first question, "Tell us something about yourself that we won't read on your resume."

I told them I was a mom. I then told them that LMorgan will come into my studio and we will play "name that excerpt." Last week Morgan and I played our little game and when I played the Mozart concerto he proclaimed, "I know that one! It's the Monster Bassoon Concerto!"

They laughed at that and the interview proceeded with a friendly and casual atmosphere.

There was an hour between the finish of the other candidate's final audition and when I received the phone call from the music director. In that hour a massive stress headache set in and my entire body hurt. I was so close and I felt so good about the whole audition process - the wait was beyond brutal and felt like it lasted hours!

After the conversation with the music director in which he "invited" me to be the principal bassoonist of the Great Falls Symphony (such a classy way to offer a job) I fell into a complete mental stupor.

I'm still existing in that mental stupor 48 hours later. I really need to embrace the role of principal bassoonist. This is hard for me since I have largely chosen not to attend principal auditions and have instead focused and envisioned myself as a second player.

There are many, MANY more thoughts I have but I can't explore them on my phone keyboard and honestly it would fill a book at this point.

My challenge now is to prepare for the second bassoon audition in Omaha next week, a LOT of trio rehearsals this week, and the Utah Wind Symphony season finale concert also this week.

Audition Thoughts Part 12

Originally blogged June 1, 2012

 I advanced.

Played a 45 minute final round with chamber music, excerpts, and interview.

Then I won!!!

Great Falls Symphony principal bassoonist.

That feels unbelievably awesome!

Audition Thoughts Part 11

Originally blogged June 1, 2012

Lest ye forget...

 ...your deodorant and beta blockers.

Put on your husband's deodorant and eat bananas.

Just played...made a lot of small but stupid mistakes. *SCREAM*

There are only 4 bassoonists at this audition, carefully selected from resumes and CD's. In a way, I feel like I already won a little something with that.

This audition is different in so many ways:

-my husband is with me
-we drove
-it's a remote western city
-I forgot my stinkin' beta blocker *SCREAM*
-I played my Mozart very differently from how I've done it in the past...hopefully the "right" way
-it's a Principal audition
-my husband wants me to win it
-I over-practiced 2 days ago which is profoundly bad

Audition Thoughts Part 10

Originally blogged May 22, 2012

I felt very unprepared for this audition (I'm noticing a theme...) because of 2 excerpts I simply didn't have ready. But the prelim round was standard and despite some rather obnoxious warm up behavior from another bassoonist, I was very pleased with my playing. Everything went without a hitch and my Brahms was stunningly quiet! I heard the audition before me, a bassoonist that did advance. He took everything fast but also very clean and flawless. I'm not surprised at all that he advanced and realized that compared to him my playing was clean but not as impressive. However, this whole process really is individual and comparing myself to others is not a worthwhile endeavor.

I am happy with my dynamic range and musicality. I'm happy with my tempos and technic. I think that I now need to really work for that *sparkle* of sound, work for more forward movement - without speed necessarily - and I think I might need to achieve just a slightly darker tone. I know I am a bit on the bright side which is dictated by what I do locally as a free lancer but I don't think it's working for these second bassoon auditions.

Birmingham is a lovely city! If this audition opens again, and I can get a reasonable flight, I will definitely take it again.

Overall, I'm very content with this audition and so much happier with what I did here, over what "went down" in N'Orlans 2 weeks ago.

Funny realization: after chatting with a few other bassoonists, I realized I was not the only one who had adopted the strategy of going to Alabama assuming all the hot shots would be in Jacksonville for that audition. After chatting with my best friend who was at the Jacksonville audition I learned there were only 26 at the Jacksonville audition. In Alabama...over 40!

Whoops! I guess we all had the same brilliant idea!

Audition Thoughts Part 9

Originally blogged May 21, 2012

 The very pretty view outside my hotel window.

A great complimentary breakfast: banana, bagel, water, juice, beta blocker - well that wasn't part of the comp breakfast.

My best friend, also a bassoonist, taking an audition today as well, in a different city. Texting back and forth about paranoid hotel playing.

A fun note from another SLC free lancer, and fabulous woman and mama, with the MOST PERFECT youtube video ever describing the audition process. Will have to post later.

Accepting that I'm not prepared for this audition but I can still make the rest as beautiful as possible.

Simply knowing I'm not alone. There are several bassoon auditions happening around the country this month and next. A few bassoonists will get lucky and win. Most will return home unvictorious (is that a word? not according to my spellcheck).

At some point, we are ALL having the exact same thought: I hope I'm good enough.

I hope I'm good enough.

Audition Thoughts Part 8

Originally blogged May 20, 2012

 I think the greatest obstacle to overcome with taking auditions is the expense. You spend years in schools, practicing, gigging, learning, and you know that eventually you just have to start taking auditions. It's complicated because you have to lay out a lot of money and if you don't have cash, or a spouse, it seems like an impossibility. This is why I never auditioned until several years after I finished my fancy conservatory undergrad and even then, I did only 1, and it was only a CD round.

For me, every audition is cross country. Every audition requires a rental car, hotel and flight. Some people question the rental car but with a package deal, they aren't that much - you would almost spend the same on a taxi but with a rental you aren't stuck dealing with local transportation or hotel shuttles. Plus the rental affords the opportunity to stay wherever the cheaper hotel is. hotels!

I have been really lucky booking hotels that have been cheap but quite nice. A few have even been quite fancy. This audition trip is an exception. We always book through various travel sites. It's never been an issue to stay in something locally owned because the travel site will typically vette the hotel with customer reviews, or at least they are suppose to.

After my very tiring red eye flight, I checked into the "hotel." Exhausted, I was eager to pull out reeds and then nap. But this hotel was really a community of short term apartments...people were living there...and not America's finest. My "suite" had cigarette holes in the covers, the lightening fixture in the bathroom was broken, mold all over the tub, stains all over the carpet, paint patches everywhere, upholstery stains...and on and on.

It was beyond nasty and I was genuinely concerned about my safety and the rental car. At the same time, I don't want to be a diva. My husband works really hard to provide these trips for me and I don't want to be picky. That being said, something like this can totally throw you off your game mentally.  Obsessing about my safety or how gross the bed linens are would have a huge impact on my ability to focus on why I am here.

After sitting there in total mental stupor I called travelocity. More than an hour later, I was able to get approval for a refund and checked in to a Holiday Inn Express.

We spend between $500 - $800 per audition...with a lot of variables.

In 2006 I was in a hotel somewhere between Georgia and NY. I was traveling alone. After taking a shower a strange man came and knocked on my door...and wouldn't leave. He pounded over and over with increasing intensity. I had noticed him when I was emptying my car and felt a very strong impression that there was something wrong. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I felt trapped in my room, the front office didn't care, it was a roach motel in a bad part of town. But I learned, especially as a woman traveling alone, safety has to come first. It's great when you can save a buck but not at the cost of your personal safety.

Re: audition prep -
At this point I have taken a long nap but I'm totally disoriented and almost dizzy with fatigue. I will NEVER red eye an audition again! My husband reminded me that any other flight would have been over $1000. So I have come to a conclusion: I will not take auditions that require a red-eye or plane tickets for over $1,000. Lesson learned, should be a fun audition tomorrow.

Audition Thoughts Part 7

Originally blogged May 20, 2012

Saturday morning I opened the back door to let our dog Sola out and right at my feet was a tiny baby sparrow. We have a nest in our eaves and I've been watching the busy sparrow mama for a few months. I called to my husband, "Babe, come look at this cute baby bird - " but sooner than I could finish the sentence, Sola attacked!  Mouth open, wolf instinct rearing! That little bird fluttered and jerked and sweet little Sola did her best to keep that struggling bird in her mouth. I proceeded to scream, "STOP, NO, SOLA, NOOOO!" She kept at it and I yelled for my husband, "Hurry, come save this bird! SOLA'S EATING A BIRD." With a little more panicked screaming (sorry neighbors) Sola dropped the bird and proceeded to run in circles with her tail tucked, clearly wanting to pounce but not wanting to get in trouble, until finally she climbed under my polyester house Mumu. My husband finally came, picked up the alive though clearly non-operational bird and decidedly threw it into our neighbor's yard...where it has likely been eaten by their 2 dogs. I gasped, "You are going to hell for that! You will have to account for this on your day of reckoning!" Perhaps I was a little frazzled as I had been up since 4 am.

What does this have to do with auditions? Well, I'm still working that out. If I was thinking more clearly, I'm certain the audition metaphor would present itself.

Between my return home from New Orleans and my departure to Alabama, I had 11 days. Plenty of time to refocus and prepare. But then life set in, and a massive allergy flare up, laryngitis, an awesome cough, and weeklong visit from in-laws, a week off from work for my husband, and a very needy 9 year old son...mix...and poof! I have had exactly 1 meaningful practice session in the last 11 days.

I awoke at 4 am on Saturday, cooked meals for the men folk, had national guard drill from 3 - 9 pm with an outdoor concert and then boarded a red-eye flight to the east coast.

The level of not-awesomeness going into this audition is fantastically staggering. There are 2 excerpts on this audition I have never prepared. They remain essentially unprepared.

I go with God on this one.

I guess I'm like Sola and that little baby bird.  I have a deep instinct to take these auditions, it's what I have been trained for.   So I take them.  But at the same time, sometimes I go into these auditions and I know it's all wrong.  Either because I'm not prepared, or because I realize I can't imagine moving my family there, or some other reason.  Like Sola, I'm biting down instinctually and also trying to resist biting down, dropping the bird and running in circles with my tail between my legs.  I have the instinct to embark on this crazy quest but it often feels like I'm running in circles, losing opportunities, afraid to do the very thing I'm trained to do. 

Audition Thoughts Parts 6

Originally blogged May 8, 2012

 Today I am exponentially more irritated than I was yesterday. After the audition I enjoyed some phone conversations totally unrelated to the audition and then drove to Baton Rouge to see an old battle buddy I went through boot camp with 11 years ago. That was very special! We shared a lot of hilarious memories, looked at pictures where I weigh about 140 lbs. and look very fit. That was the ultimate diversion.  If I was really intelligent I would have spent some of my visit in Baton Rouge playing excerpts for the bassoon prof at LSU.
This day, the day after, I'm tired and irritated because I have such a late flight and I really just want to be home.
Here is where my thoughts have taken me today. All are rather reactionary and all could be accurate and also totally inaccurate.  This blogging series is about capturing the essence of what goes through my mind through-out this process, unfiltered.  Here is my stream of consciousness for the past 24 hours:
  • 3 people advanced from my group, 2 had the same teacher, and neither was better than me. No ego, no narcissism, just reporting what I heard very clearly in the warm up.
  • Either people are lying to me or these auditions are on the fix.
  • Maybe I should spend less on auditions and more on traveling to play for different people. Maybe I should stop auditions all together.
  • Restarting an excerpt, despite what people say, is not "acceptable."
  • My best is simply not good enough.
  • There must be something weird about my sound.
  • Maybe I should apply for a post grad program - NOT a D.M.A.
  • Going into the Army instead of doing a masters at Juilliard was apparently foolish.
  • Working summers to keep some control on my student loan debt instead of going to the summer programs I was accepted to was also apparently foolish.
  • Reading bios of musicians in the orchestra was depressing.
  • This whole thing is stupid because I "could" win the next one.
  • Maybe I should be taking principal auditions instead of second auditions. Maybe my sound isn't right for second.
  • I'm going to ask to get the feedback on this audition just in case they might be willing this time.
  • New Orleans smells like sweat, pee, and mold. The streets are really crappy and people drive like maniacs.
  • I'm so fat! I'M SOOOOO FAT! Maybe if I was 26 and skinny again I would play differently.
  • I should take more auditions.
  • I should back out of the 3 I have to do this season.
  • I wonder how many people think my playing is crap.
That's a decent summary. Most of those thoughts, I know, are meaningless but for the sake of recording the experience of the audition process, it's my honest rendering of my inner-conversation.
Really just wish I was home right now.

Audition Thoughts Part 5

Originally blogged May 7, 2012

I drew number 1! I have to admit that I was so happy to go first. Get it done and then feel the sense of relief. I liked my Mozart concerto and the Marriage of Figaro went well! Great progress on those crucial fronts. Next was the first Bartok excerpt, I squawked the last note - shockingly I did the exact same thing in this exact audition the last time I was here, I was totally conscious of it and I still biffed it. Need to fix that!!! Final excerpt was Brahms 3:4 -- to A. I started and for the first time was brave enough to ask for a restart. I'm not very pleased I did that but if the option is there, why not show the panel you can play it correctly.

Now I'm waiting. My perspective is this: my first audition of the season with 3 more. Nothing is lost if it ends right here. I gained important inner feedback and know what I can work towards for the Alabama audition in 2 weeks. I go home to our cute home, freelance work, Utah Wind Symphony, and Trio de Bois - I'm still a professional musician! If I do advance = AWESOME!


My number was not called. Of course it stings a little because I certainly didn't hear playing that was any more spectacular than mine. But that is the luck of the draw. Maybe if I hadn't popped the note in Bartok or restarted Brahms...or maybe not.

Who knows!

Audition Thoughts Part 4

Originally blogged May 7, 2012

 Beta Blockers

The fact is, everyone is taking them. Every professional musician I have ever asked admits using them and credits winning their job to having a beta blocker in their system. I do not believe that this qualifies as a metaphor for jumping off the Brooklyn bridge along with other wayward souls.  I do believe in evening out the playing field.

I don't believe that I have any extraordinary performance anxiety. However, when you dump thousands of dollars into flights, hotels, rental cars, lessons, etc in pursuit of "the job", you do start to care...a lot. That desire to justify your expense certainly adds a lot of pressure and that pressure can make anyone sweat.

I have tried the beta blocker you see here and another one that was way too strong for me. I took the stronger one when I auditioned for Knoxville and had to be awoken in my warm up room to play the audition. Clearly I was too calm! I have settled on this medication, taking 1 tablet about 2 hours before the audition. I don't take these regularly, these are reserved for auditions and the occasional very high stress performance.

I find that the amount I take allows me to feel in control while still enjoying a small and beneficial amount of adrenaline.

Morning of routine: I don't really have one. I choose not to practice this morning in the hotel and will instead arrive early at the audition site and practice in the group room. I have eaten a banana and a small piece of multigrain bread, had some water, and clearly my beta blocker. I'm watching the news and waiting for the time to leave. My audition time is between 9-10 am. I awoke at 6:15. Lots of time to keep myself from rushing at the last minute.

Audition Thoughts Part 3

Originally blogged May 6, 2012

 When I started taking auditions in 2008 I would arrive several days early to allow me adequate time to "acclimatize." The flaw with that plan for me was having to practice and work on reeds in a hotel room.  I have never once been reported to a front desk. However, because I am so deeply self-conscious about disturbing hotel guests, I believe I did more damage than good in those final days before the audition trying to play very cautiously in hotel rooms.

After several auditions I adopted a new "turn-and-burn" practice. Arrive the night before, fly out the morning after. This has only been possible since becoming confident about preparing my reeds for the elevation change.

Tonight I was very pleased to find that my high elevation reed prep was spot on. My reeds are responsive and in tune! Huge relief. After trying only 4 of my 21 reeds that are with me, I'm happy to see that the reeds I anticipated would be appropriate are just as they should be. I only played for a few minutes because every time I hear a door slam, I anticipate an irritated hotel guest banging on my door. In addition, I have learned that trying to cram a practice session in after flying is a profoundly bad idea. So glad I was completely prepared before arriving!

I went out for Subway and got lots of free veggies on my veggie delight sub. Then I headed over to the audition site to check timing and passed 2 missionaries on bikes - a good sign? After that I went to Winn Dixie for some bananas and some artisan multigrain for breakfast and snacking tomorrow. I got back to my room only to discover that the cashier put the previous customer's half gallon of ice cream and cheesecake in my bag along with my items. No wonder it was so heavy! If I advance tomorrow morning maybe I will indulge in this sweet treat.

All in all I feel good about tomorrow. I'm a little concerned about the A/C in my room but have it turned quite low. I will enjoy some free cable and clean my bassoon and then turn in and *hopefully* fall asleep rather early.

Audition Thoughts Part 2

Originally blogged May 6, 2012

Final reed selection for me takes place 2 days before I leave. Because ALL of my auditions thus far have been at sea level, I have learned to leave my reeds a little heavy and 10 cents sharp. This has been hard to do on my current Fox 601 setup. Last year I bought a Heckel CDE1 to raise my pitch but generally my pitch is a little under on this setup.  I don't mind sitting slightly flat until I drop elevation.

Reed preparation begins several weeks out as I anticipate the change in elevation and the need to make sharper reeds. My philosophy on reed making is that reeds are like kids. You can't force them to do anything, but you can nurture their positive attributes. Therefore I don't set out to make a high reed, low reed, solo reed etc. I simply start taking off cane and whatever the reed shows itself to be, I go with it.

Thus, making reeds in volume, for me, is necessary. Especially when preparing second bassoon audition reeds. That requires a specific type of reed and I have to allow that reed to present itself from the blanks I have ready. I feel like this method of reed making is very stress-free. I have a LOT of reeds constantly going and rotating and I find that with high volume, low stress, I pretty much never have a reed crisis. I also keep every reed in my cataloging system so I can go back and reuse as needed.

I'm grateful for my early teachers who encouraged me to hone my reed making skills as a young student. The consistent wisdom from each of them: make hundreds of reeds!

This evening when I check into the hotel will be the moment of truth: did I leave them hard enough, sharp enough, dark enough to give me the low elevation reeds I need and want.

We'll see!

Audition thoughts Part 1

 Traveling to an audition at a very different elevation from where you prepare an audition is an art.

Understanding how your reeds will change and then anticipating those changes is not an exact science. This makes things a little risky.

Here I am at the Denver airport USO waiting for my flight to New Orleans. I'm nervous. I couldn't even eat breakfast and I'm not the kind of girl that misses meals.

I'm having stress sciatica. The last time I flew I ended up in an emergency room in New York and it took me 3 days to get home in a drug induced stupor. Still have only vague memories of that. The reality is that I know I'm fine but I'm still nervous about flying and hotel beds...oh, and the actual audition.

Ran into Mr.Chodos at the SLC airport (we were on the same flight to Denver) and had a nice chat about auditions. That was a fun coincidence!

I've decided to blog this audition experience which some people may find interesting.