2 months, 30 excerpts prepared, 7 minutes of audition time
60 minutes waiting awkwardly with six other clarinetists to hear the hour's results
5 disappointed musicians walking, silently, out of the building
4 excerpts on replay and an abundance of adrenaline to keep me up all night
And the audition is a wrap! What a bizarre and exhausting experience dozens of candidates went through that day--I don't think there is anything else in life quite like it.
Everyone backstage was welcoming and warm, and somehow the countless hours of prep were all worth it to sit on that enormous stage, look out at 2,312 empty seats, and play my heart out for less than 10 minutes. There were seven people in my group, and five of us did not make it to the semifinals.
I felt frustrated for probably the first 30 minutes following the results. I had known immediately after the audition that my sense of timing had gotten all wonky in the moment. Also, I had never played in such a large hall all by myself, and the reverberating sound was wild! I had been nervous about that throwing me off, but I wasn't sure how to fully prepare for it.
Despite knowing all of this, the taste of not hearing your number called is bitter, and it doesn't help that the entire day had been a whirlwind of emotions and stress.
Luckily, the support of other musicians and family from the past few days led me to reflect on how I really felt during the hour and a half drive home. My ultimate goal had been simply to take the audition, and I had achieved it! I also was headed home to a beautiful house and wonderful fiancé who had promised me a hot cup of tea and was incredibly proud. Finally, I did feel relief that it was all over! Back to doing more of what I love.
There were some factors that made this audition more enjoyable for me than past ones:
Mental preparation (emotional support from family and other musicians, the use of imagery, mental practice, yin yoga the day of the audition)
Run-throughs of excerpts with an elevated heart rate to simulate an audition
A playlist of feel-good and inspirational music to tune out the other candidates warming up and to put me in a confident mindset (it was mostly Lizzo)
Next time, I would like to play for even more people in the weeks leading up to the audition, and I will be smarter about my hand health so that I don't have to take an entire week off during prep. I have requested comments from the audition as well, to be sure exactly what I need to improve on for next time.
I also plan to work on excerpts more consistently in the future, so that when an audition does come up I'm not starting from scratch. It's almost as if one of my professors had told me this years ago, but being the stubborn person that I am I had to learn it from experience...
Now back to my normal(ish) routine! With the audition over, it feels like a fog has been lifted from my mind and I have so. much. energy. Back to wedding planning, and lifting weights, and enjoying this perfect Tucson weather!
Next time I'll post about how to structure your practice time to make it more effective!