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:
- Purchase a new home
- Put a home under contract
- Travel with a loved one
- Give up completely on any idea that I will win/that I have control
- Have total faith in God that only if it's His plan, will it happen for me
- Practice...all the excerpts
- Care a lot about winning
- Start thinking about home values and cost of living
- Fret over changing schools for my son and IEP meetings
- Fail to prepare the ENTIRE rep list
- Manage my time poorly and not carve out the time required to prepare the rep list
- Make last second reed changes
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.