Four months of work came to a conclusion yesterday. Much like getting ready for a major race, there is a lot of build up and anticipation to auditions. Am I really ready? Can I follow my plan? Will I make my goal? Unlike races, the outcome of an audition is only partly in my hands. It’s my job to do the best that I can and make a compelling case for myself. The ultimate decision is out of my hands. The committee has to like what they hear, and want to hear more. I have to prove that I am a good fit for the orchestra that I’m auditioning for. The goal, to make it to the next round of the process (most auditions have at least two rounds), and ultimately to win the audition.
The day got off to a rough start. When I woke up I thought I was feeling better, so I laced up my new running shoes and headed out for a short 4 mile run. When I got back I was still feeling okay, although getting rather cold (we later discovered the heat is not working). Feeling cold would shortly lead to chills and eventually my laying on the couch under a blanket staring at the TV. I didn’t want to move. Some Advil would eventually get rid of the chills, which were followed by feeling like I was on fire. It wasn’t the way I wanted to feel, but it was what I had. Much like the weather on race day it was out of my hands. I had spent four months getting ready for 10 minutes. I had worked so hard, and gotten so much better. I had battled some of my inner demons, and was starting to feel better about myself as a violinist. Before leaving to teach my two students of the day I was in tears. I felt awful, and I needed that to change fast!
Teaching ended up being the best decision. I relaxed, forgot that I was feeling awful, and just had fun with my students. That plus more Advil, and more food made me feel human again. So, when I got to the audition and was asked if I would be willing to go early I a little reluctantly said yes. Two thoughts came into my head. First, I had just taken more Advil and eaten and wasn’t running a risk of the fever coming back at the moment. Later might be a different story. Second, they tend to put all of the better players together in the later group. I might have a better chance of advancing out of the first group.
The audition itself was in the opera’s orchestra pit in the hall that they use for performances. While that may sound completely overwhelming I actually really like it. The sound is great, and it makes me feel a little bit more at home than just a random room with a great big black curtain hanging right in front of me (because of the pit I never saw the black curtain, it was too high for my line of sight). This group chose not to hear a solo in the first round. Before this would have thrown. This time I was ready. I focused, thought about my tempo, and ignored the fact that my heart was pounding. The result was the best start I’ve ever had in an audition. I focused on what I heard right out of the violin, not the sound coming back to me from in the hall (although I did catch a bit and have to say it sounded good!). I knew if I started the second excerpt well then I would be home free once I got going. Again I focused on my tempo, was my bow in the right place, and started. It was great! I was so happy with it. I had expected the next excerpt would be heard in the first round. It was the really big, and the most challenging piece in the excerpts. It started great. A few notes were out of tune, but I fixed them as I went along. I was relaxed enough that I could fix them! They choose not to hear the last excerpt. I was disappointed, but they seemed to be racing through the first group. There were a few bells going off in my head, but I thought I had made a pretty good case for myself. In the end no one from the first group was advanced to the second round.
I called my teacher and told him how it went. I was actually very happy despite the frustration of not being advanced. This group is known in town for holding auditions and not filling positions. It was a good experience that will get me ready for the next audition. I celebrated getting better with a cupcake :-). After everything that had happened yesterday I felt pretty good. Now if the heat would just get fixed I might start feeling even better!