Mental funk

I have a pattern developing with my auditions lately. I sound amazing getting ready. I feel like I’ve been playing better than ever lately. I go into the warm-up room at an audition and do some finger warm-ups, and scales and then start a few pieces. Secretly I might do that last bit to play with other people’s minds a bit. Then I walk down the hall when it’s my turn, and go into the room. A big, empty room with a great big black curtain hanging right next to a stand, and my heart starts pounding. I can’t think, or feel anything other than my whole body pounding from the nerves.

This last time I did myself a huge disservice. I changed the way I prep for the opening of my solo. The result was being a whole step off of the first pitch. I did it to myself. Heck I’m lucky they didn’t stop me right there. Maybe they noticed things got better in a hurry. I played all of the excerpts, and I played them really well. I didn’t get the job. It’s the story of my auditions. It’s mine to loose, and I did it to myself. Those darn nerves and all of the heart pounding. People have suggested medication, or alcohol, but I’ve decided to go a different route.

A friend reminded me a few weeks ago to go back and redo some of the exercises Don Greene teaches. If you haven’t heard of Don Greene than you will find out he’s one of the top mental coaches in the business. He’s helped musicians, athletes, Olympians, and everyday people get out of the mental head games that hold them back from their dreams. I am a great big old head case. It is not my technique, or ability, but my nerves that hold me back. I know I am good enough, and I love playing music. It makes me happy. So, I downloaded Don Greene’s newest book Fight Your Fear, and started working through assessments and exercises the same afternoon as my botched audition. It just solidified what I already knew. In pressure moments I don’t believe in myself, and I fear failure. So, now it’s time to start working on my mental game going into my next audition!

Do dreams come true?

The timing of things can be very interesting at times. There is a job that I have dreamed about having since I was in middle school about the time I got serious about playing the violin. Yesterday the local musician’s union newsletter arrived announcing a position at that very symphony.

I’ve been mulling it over in my brain for over 24 hours now. Despite the problems that the group has been having I can’t help but wonder at the timing. My studio is so small, and other frustrations with the school make me feel that it’s time to move on from where I teach now. I’ve been doing a bunch of auditions, so I’m use to doing the necessary work at a high level. I’ve been working on getting more jobs with camber groups to play more in front of people, and work on handling any nerves I get for being responsible for my own music. Of course I don’t know if they would even give me a chance to audition, but as one friend said Sunday morning I’ll never know unless I give it a chance.

So, now I have to figure out if I’m brave enough, and strong enough to give myself a chance. I know I’ve come a long way. I can hear the improvement, and I’m understanding my technique more and more over the past couple of months.

Continue forward

This week has been a good practice week. In between giving wedding quotes to brides, planning some Halloween fun for my studio, and waiting for people to get back to me I’ve gotten a lot of good practicing done. Besides working to lay a musical base for all of the audition excerpts I’ve been making sure that the details like bow strokes, dynamics, where I need to be in the bow, and intonation are in place as well. It’s like making sure my running form is right at a slow speed before moving to speed workouts. Foundation first, and then the speed work comes.

It’s already starting to pay off too! Check out this new recording of my work with the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto’s first movement. I have to say I’m quite pleased with the progress.