Showing posts from January, 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 o

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 DISTRIBUTION digital music stand/E-Stand is not good yet, still impractical CSO played off e-stands "and i

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

Career Development IWCMF

Career Development Panel Guest Lecturers:  Jean Cook , Richard Kessler , Amy Roberts Frowley (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

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 comm

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 fre

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 Sa

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 sessi

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 auditio

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 pri

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 &qu

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 nee

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 enoug

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 boo

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

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

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

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 medica

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

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. T