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Audition Challenge Week 4

Can you sense my excitement, ladies and gentlemen? The long-awaited end to this challenge is coming up quickly, and as you can tell by my enthusiasm in this week's video, I cannot wait for that day. This has been an eye-opening process, as I've a) never prepared an audition so far in advance before, and b) never documented my weekly progress in this way. There are definitely ways I can streamline the process next time, and it'll help that I won't be going through an identical list of excerpts for the second time in less than 6 months.

Yes, Stephen, it is.

I had an interesting time with the visualization this week. As I practicing this week, and really trying to "experience" everything before I played through an excerpt, my nervous symptoms really did appear, which was both terrifying and really cool. Stiff fingers? Check. Less breath control? Check. Heart trying to escape my body via my sternum? Check mate.

Artist's rendition of my condition.

But, now I know I can get through without totally crashing and burning, which is great. My biggest concerns are little rhythmic issues and tempo control. If I can just hold on a few more weeks, I stand a good chance of not completely disappointing myself on audition day.

I've just got to remember all the other tips and tricks I've picked up over the years. My non-exhaustive list includes:

- Zero-in on the nervous symptoms. By really paying attention to what you're feeling, eventually the minimize if not go away completely.

- Remember that the audition panel really wants you to do well. They're behind the screen cheering you on, hoping you're going to be the one.

- Nobody is expecting perfection.

- A few slow, deep breaths before you do anything certainly doesn't hurt.

- Just get out there and play! Really, what's the worst that could possibly happen? Nobody is going to get hurt if you play a wrong note, or smudge a run. You won't starve to death from playing something out of tune. Worst case scenario: your life remains exactly the same.

Not what is expected to happen.

In addition to all the fun, I did try to work in a little of the "excerptcize" I mentioned last week. I recorded a quick mock audition with pushups, crunches, and jumping jacks between each excerpt, but I'm going to be honest with you, I don't think the internet was ready for that awfulness. It was totally hilarious to hear me crash and burn (and almost pass out in Mendelssohn), but it didn't make for a great video, and definitely didn't fall into the realm of documenting my progress. Maybe I'll put a little up at the end of this, seeing as the audition will be long done by the time I get around to posting week 1.

The goals between now and the end of this journey are to speed up the time it takes me to do each visualization, so as to not completely piss off the panel by being really slow between pieces, and to make it more of an automatic process, if that makes any sense. I know my brain tends to shut off and go into fight-or-flight mode when I walk on stage, and I'd like to minimize that as best I can. The more I'm able to actually think while staring at the music/stand/screen/empty seats/whatever, the better I'll play.

While I'm not over the moon with happiness with how this went, there are a few areas where I know I made progress, and I'm pleasantly surprised they actually worked during this mock. Little celebration dances for the high C's in the Mahler and the halfway decent articulation in Voliere!

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