Skip to main content

Audition Preparation Update

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...


Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Shaq and the Oboe

Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it. 
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.

Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG.   It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.

What a LIBERATING concept!

When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication.   I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else.  This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.

I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …