What I’m Trying

I am still, yes, still working on how to approach my audition mind.  I wrote about this before HERE and HERE.

As I practice for this month’s audition, I am trying to get away from working solely on the music.  Of course the music is important, but I know these concertos and excerpts.  I’ve worked them out a million times, played them in auditions, and even performed most of them in the orchestra, and my basic plans are in place.  I am trying now to get myself into a good, focused, clear mindset before each one.    I want to use my breathing to launch myself into a place of focus.  If I can get to where I need to be with a few mindful breaths, perhaps I can control the time and my mastery of the stage while I’m in that crucial ten minutes. 

So, I play an excerpt.  I make sure I know how I want it.  Then I stop, breathe, and try to find my way to the timeless place, the place where I totally know what I’m doing and I can turn the scorekeeper off and just enjoy playing beautifully.  This is so hard to do.  My plan, once I work through all of the individual pieces like this, is to start stringing them together, as I would play them in the audition itself.  Practice taking the breaths quickly between excerpts to clear my head, reset, and be the me I want to be. 

I know this technique is fairly obvious, but it’s genuinely something new for me.  Of course I have practiced stringing excerpts together before, and practiced finding my mental cues and my tempo, and practiced getting from one mood to another.  What I have not worked on in that process is my own brain.  I was always thinking about the music.

 That last statement troubles me, and I think it’s the reason I have taken so long to get to my current project.  Of course it should be about the music.  What on earth is the point of what I do if it’s not about the music?  I should be the conduit for the music, and the interpretations I’ve prepared should just flow through me, and I shouldn’t have to think about myself.  That is what feels awkward about this.  I’ve resisted making the issue be me, because I always assumed that if my interpretations matured just a little more, or if I chose my reed more carefully, or if I pushed through that crescendo more meaningfully, things would just work out.  If I took care of the music it would take care of me. 

But the problem, and the reason that I am not making the beautiful music in a much bigger arena, seems to be that I am getting in the way.  My self-talk and distractibility over the course of a multi-day audition process HAS prevented the smooth, perfect flow of the music, and in order to correct that I have to focus on myself.  So as to take the focus back off myself.  Paradoxical, yes, and difficult, but clearly the answer. 

My success so far has been mixed – sometimes I feel right but then I make mistakes (so am I not as focused as I think?  Or is the focus not the only answer?) and sometimes I just can’t get there at all.  Meanwhile, though, in context – in rehearsals and concerts  – I find that I can fairly easily get to where I want to be by broadening my visual field and looking at more than one note or line of music at a time.  If I can turn on the right feeling and attitude in the orchestra but not alone at my music stand, what is the answer? 

I’m open to suggestions.  Meanwhile, I keep working.  Working harder is probably the answer.

1 thought on “What I’m Trying”

  1. And yet, Jennet, whenever I hear you and SEE you play, it seems to me almost as if you ARE the music–you embody it in a very real way. You clearly love to play, and love to play for an audience. Is the audience what you are missing at auditions? Who is there for you to love? Maybe that's a missing piece that could help. It has sometimes worked for me..

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