In preparing for my upcoming audition, I have been putting in a significant amount of time in on the oboe.
First, I’ve been doing careful warmups and taking care of some reed and attack details that I’d gotten lazy about with all the Christmas busy-work. Second, I’m playing one of my two required concertos every day and making sure that my personality can shine through both. One of them will be the very first thing I play in the audition, so I need to be ready with my best foot forward.
The bulk of my time has been spent working on each excerpt individually – recording, listening and critiquing, and recording again. When I listen, I am making sure that my defense is in place – that the notes and rhythms are correct and in tune, and that the style is appropriate – so I don’t give anyone a reason to eliminate me. I’m also putting my offensive strategy in place – trying to make each excerpt interesting, compelling, and unique enough that the committee will want to hear more. Each piece is tiny – a few bars, sometimes, and never more than two minutes worth of music, so there’s a lot to squeeze into each one.
My next step, with the audition a week and a half away, is to string these excerpts together. It’s easy enough (OK, not easy, exactly, but easy enough) to play a great Brahms Violin Concerto solo after working on it for 10 minutes, but to play it compellingly after 5 other excerpts which are wildly different in style and range and energy is much more difficult. For the remainder of my prep time I will be running lists – recording 4-6 excerpts at a time and trying to get to the heart of each of them instantly. To find the magic right away. To snap into the style of Bach, Mendelssohn, or Mahler and sell my interpretation in the tiny amount of time allotted.
And now, back to the oboe…