"I, for one, feel better about myself, and I feel I have learned a valuable lesson."
I admit it: the title of this post comes from one of my favourite Muppets, Clueless Morgan, at the end of Muppet Treasure Island. While I wish I had a more inspirational quote (and quoter) to use to describe my latest audition experience, the sentiment is nonetheless true and to the point. I learnt a great deal about myself and my mental fortitude over the last 9 (!!) weeks and I gained some serious confidence in my own abilities.
I meant to finish both the Inner Game and Toughness Training well before this point. I still haven't. Between the audition prep, work, gigs, and everyday tasks, I didn't have as much time to dedicate to my personal challenge as I would have liked. I lost interest in Toughness Training in roughly the same place I did the first time I went through it - once I came to a better understanding why things weren't working the way I'd hoped, fixing the issues became easier and I didn't feel the need to continue with the book. It is a good resource for mental training and strategic preparation for competitions and auditions, but it's not for me.
The Inner Game, on the other hand, proved its worth on the day of my audition. The usual nervous symptoms presented themselves to me in the warm-up room: inconsistent air flow, dry mouth, desperation, shaky fingers. By focusing on each issue (air flow being my primary concern), and pinpointing exactly what was happening, I was able to completely eradicate those symptoms well before I walked on stage.
I managed to be in control of my thoughts throughout the whole first round until the fourth movement of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, where my technique fell apart. Technique is usually my strongest asset, but on that day it just wasn't going to come out. I was allowed to try it twice and I just couldn't get it. It happens, it wasn't my day, and honestly I'm not too upset about it. This is not a job I think I'm qualified for *just yet* and it was a valuable experience for me. I prepared well, I played consistently with how I was practicing, and I made a lot of good progress with some of my nightmare pieces to the point where they are no longer on that list (currently just Prokofiev, and I know it'll get there).
While I didn't do as well as I hoped I would (my goal was to advance to the second round), I am proud of how I prepared and very grateful Rob Knopper for sharing his audition preparation techniques. Coaching myself through each and every phrase, really hearing my intonation instead of relying on a tuner, and mastering rhythmical challenges were things I've never really done to this level before, and I'm very pleased and surprised by the results. It's definitely the method I'll use for the next audition. Even though I'm on a flute vacation right now, I'm actually excited to start the next audition.