Audition Thoughts Part 19: You Can Call me Sister Crawford

My Mom always said, "Let's clean up one mess before we start another."  To be clear, this almost always referred to baking projects in the kitchen and my career is not a series of messes.

However, I feel like I can apply the same wisdom here: let's finish one season before we start another.  I am still a little in shock that this is my last actual week of work with the Chinook Winds Quintet.  Part of this week I will participate in the audition process to replace both myself and our Principal oboe position.

Over the next several weeks my little family will be relocating to Rexburg, Idaho so I can assume duties as full-time, bassoon faculty for the BYU-Idaho music department.  Just to be clear, at BYU-I I won't be referred to as Professor Crawford.  Instead, you can just call me Sister Crawford.  I will also be starting every class I teach with a prayer!

But let me back track a bit and share the story of how I won my first, full-time, university position...

Last August our principal second violinist in the Cascade Quartet forwarded me an email from her bassoon colleague with the announcement that BYU-I was launching a national search for a new full-time, tenure-track, bassoon instructor.   Having applied for this position two years prior when they were looking to fill 1 of 3 different positions, I was a little skeptical about applying a second time.  I reached out to a colleague of mine on faculty at BYU-I and inquired about my deficiencies as a previous applicant.  He gave me the strong "thumbs up" to apply again.  Thusly, I submitted all my materials...again...

...except this time, I opened it up for revisions and edits by the three smartest women I know: my mom and my two sisters.  Clearly, that was the right decision.  By the time I submitted my CV, cover letter, resume, and other documents, I was feeling pretty confident about how I presented myself.  Well, at least fairly confident considering I have minimal experience in a college classroom, do not have my terminal degree, and had been appointed adjunct faculty at U of Montana only about 6 weeks prior.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained! 

 I proceeded from the "resume round" to a Skype interview.  The search committee asked about my teaching philosophy, my ability to collaborate, and my teaching experience.  What I found myself talking about was homeschooling and the many different things I have found myself teaching - without prior experience or professional qualifications.  When I first applied for this position, I was just beginning my second season with the GFSA and not yet homeschooling.  Mentally and professionally, I really wasn't in the proper place to take seriously the process of presenting myself to academia.  Two years later, a little wiser and a lot more experienced, I am pleased to recount that I was able to articulate very easily my teaching philosophy and my approach to teaching in areas that may be out of my immediate comfort zone.

In November, the week of Thanksgiving, I received an automated email from Human Resources informing me that the position has been rescinded by the University - uuuuugggghhhhhh!!!!  Happy Thanksgiving!

After lots of emailing and status changes, the position re-emerged from whatever place such things are decided but no longer as a tenure track position.  It's called a full-time, visiting artist position with a renewable, 1-year contract, up to 3 years.

I was invited (1 of 3 candidates) for an on-campus interview.  Oddly, in that sentence, it sounds like 1 interview.  In reality, the on-campus portion included:
  • 4 interviews
  • 1 theory class instruction
  • 2 private lessons instruction
  • 1 faculty chamber music rehearsal
  • 1 recital
It took 2 days, in the middle of January, in Rexburg ID - which is WILDLY more cold than Montana.  There were aspects that I felt really confident about: private lesson instruction, faculty chamber music rehearsal, 2 of the 4 interviews.  There were aspects that were not awesome.

What I did not expect was how much I learned in the process (about the school, the position, and what I had to offer) and how much I had to ponder upon leaving.

It was such a whirlwind experience!  The Chinook Winds had our 11th & Grant premier party late in the evening.  My husband and I left after that, drove 5 hours in snow and cold, got in to the hotel around 2 am, spent 2 days interviewing, drove back to Montana, subbed in with the Helena Symphony for 2 days, saw myself on TV in a hotel room, and then back home to GTF and off on a tour.

I then spent the next 2 months talking myself into and out of the job on a daily basis.  
  • If I get, will I take it?  
  • Well, I won't get it.  
  • But maybe I will get it!  
  • Then of course I totally want it.  
  • But what if I am horrible at it?  
  • I shouldn't take it, I have so much going on in Montana.  
  • I have too much going on in Montana.  
  • I HAVE to get off the road as a musician.  
  • If I get the job, I have to take it - for our family, for my sanity.  
  • Maybe I should just go back to school and get my DMA?  
  • Maybe if I get the job, and I'm good at it, and I like it, then I will go back to school and get my DMA.  
  • I should definitely take the job.  
  • But we will have to move again in 1 or 2 or 3 years!  
  • Morgan graduates in 5 years, that's 2 more moves.  
  • But what an opportunity!  
  • To teach on a university level.  
  • To work with students who are choosing to be there.  
  • To work with faculty who are passionate about education.  
  • To shape the next generation of educators and audience members.  
  • To mentor students at such a crucial time in their lives.  
  • I hope the job is offered to me. 
  • I will never get this job!

You know, the usual mind games of self-doubt, inadequacy, and fear that plague every hilly trained professional - especially musicians.  

In March, I was informed that I had progressed to the final step but it would take several more weeks to hear anything official.   

In case you have lost track, this is now 7 months into the process.  

 Orchestral audition: walk in, play, get kicked off stage = 7 min.  

Then things got REALLY intense because the time frame for hearing about the BYU-I position did NOT line up with the GFSA contract timeline.  THE STRESS!!  I'm certain I gained 10 lbs from mid-March to mid-April!

Thankfully, our executive director gave me a great opportunity to delay signing my contract but advertise my position as vacant with the option to cancel if I wasn't offered the position.  It was SUPER AWKWARD to see my position posted everywhere while not knowing if I was going to stay or go...and not telling anyone except for those who absolutely NEEDED to know.  I definitely got some interesting emails from inquiring minds.

The last few weeks of waiting were excruciating!  Not only did I have the GFSA and my colleagues in the Chinook Winds waiting but also the Billings Symphony and University of Montana.  I started to realize how many people depended on me but also how over committed I was and how much I really wanted (needed) this position. 

LOOONNNGGG story short: I got the job!  Obviously!  

It was a very long process but I needed that time to work out the BIG PICTURE in my head.  I have gained a whole new appreciation for my colleagues who have/are applying for multiple academic positions and how demanding that process is.  

Suffice it to say, I am very excited for this whole new world I am entering!  I know, I have a LOT to learn but I'm really eager to learn and develop so many new skills.  I think it will be a phenomenal opportunity to see if this is the direction I want to go in my career.  I think the school is incredible and undergoing a major transformation in educational innovation.  I'm excited to be part of that process and to mentor students as they gain relevant education for their careers and lives.

I know my family was meant to be in Montana these 4 years - and I'm so emotional to be leaving - but I also know that this is definitely the right and next step for us.

The WILD WEST adventure for this Bassoonist continues on...


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