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Audition Challenge Week 5

This week's assignment was based around visualization. This is something I've tried (and almost immediately given up on) in the past. Maybe I lack a strong enough or convincing enough impression of the music that I want to project to my audience? Maybe I'm worried that if I dive too deeply into my thoughts I won't like what I find? Maybe I'm too impatient? Maybe I just don't have enough imagination?

Is there a difference between having an active imagination and being really weird?

Whatever the reason, I've never really given visualization a fair shot. Clearly things haven't worked out super well for me without it, so lets give this a shot!

What surprised me the most is that some of the steps involved I already do. Before starting an excerpt I take a few seconds to really imagine how I play the opening to ensure it comes out the way I intend. The problem arises when I get out of the practice room. When I'm put in a pressure situation, like a mock audition for a friend or when playing for a teacher, my mind just shuts off. Just as soon as I feel confident I'm going to deal with my nervous symptoms, something new shows up. Now that I've controlled some articulation issues and my crazy heart beat, my embouchure has decided to fall apart. It wouldn't be so bad except it doesn't happen until after I've started playing. Which, I think, just means I should add that to my visualization for the next few weeks.


I'm now in that super doubt-y stage of my prep where I feel nothing I do is going to make a difference and my nerves are just going to get the better of me. I know I sound good, and I'm happy with how I'm playing. I just need to get out of the mindset where I feel like just focussing on visualization isn't going to be a waste of my time. I know it's not, but I have a serious case of practice guilt. If I'm not actively practicing excerpts, perfecting little technical things and looking at everything under a microscope, then I'm not actually doing anything at all. I have tried to change my mindset for this challenge, though. This was all about trying something new, after all.

So, since it wouldn't make sense to do just the excerpts for this challenge and completely ignore the other works I need to prepare, I made a handy-dandy chart with every. single. piece. on it. It took a really long time and I definitely felt guilty that I was spending so much time not practicing - my visualizations were pretty critical and negative. And maybe not totally based in reality. Maybe.

Anyway, it's all there if you want to take a look. I will probably update it as the weeks go on, as (hopefully) my impressions of my own playing change. I know I won't master this skill for this upcoming audition. I'm pretty stuck in my ways and this is a big change for my way of thinking. I'm going to stick with it, and hopefully somewhere down the road I'll have a break through.

Next week there will be a video of me putting these visualizations to task. In an attempt to recreate my usual nervous symptoms, I plan on doing little exercises between each piece, like either push ups, sit ups, or jumping jacks. Not enough to really tire me out, but to get the heart rate up and to make my air flow less efficient. I imagine it will sound a little rough. I call it "excerptcise."

And because it's stuck in my head, my gift to all of you: the Imaginationland Song.

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