Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Hello everyone,

It seems that as a musician, my life has revolved around taking auditions these past couple of years.
I mean, for most of us, that seems to be the norm in trying to make a career in this field.
Auditions and I...  well, we have an odd relationship.  I don't particularly hate or love taking auditions,, I guess the strongest feeling I have for auditions is something akin to annoyance than anything else because I feel like I'm perpetually preparing for one audition or another.. and I'm not even trying to land a job yet!
For example, all last fall, I worked my butt off trying to get ready for the pre-screening auditions for graduate programs.  When that was done, I had to audition for summer programs that winter.  When that was done, I had another round of auditions for graduate programs in late winter/spring!  Then, we go to summer programs all summer where we have other auditions for orchestral seating and chamber group placements.  When we come back to school, it's "welcome back! let's audition for orchestra seating and chamber music placements!" and then we have to get ready to apply for summer festivals all over again!  It's never ending!!!!

Of course, this petty annoyance turns into a much more frightening psychological battle in the real world for many musicians.
For example, my friend Rachel posted this article for me to read a couple of months back, and well,, that's what's waiting for us as musicians in the real world, especially if we are trying to be orchestral musicians; so many of us, and so few job openings!
So far, I haven't had the kind of debilitating self doubt or audition-fright that's mentioned in the article, but I have also never auditioned for the Boston Symphony.  Perhaps when the stakes are that high, I may also develop such unfortunate side effects, but hopefully not.  It's a very serious problem many musicians have though, and I think one of the courses I am taking here at Rice is specifically designed to help us budding musicians to stunt the growth of such debilitating conditions. Of course, it's not necessarily termed in such a way, [How to Overcome Your Stage Fright! 101], but from looking at the syllabus and seeing how the class is being run, there's definitely that thread, just under the surface.  But hey, no complaints from me here!  I'll take all the tools and help I can get,,,  I'll need it once I am forcibly kicked out of the nest (of the academia). because apparently I have to graduate,, and enter the real world sooner than later..  =(  haha

So this week has been the "Hey! welcome back! let's audition!" week at Rice, and during my walks to and from school, I've just been musing about how different my life is now that I have chosen to do only music.
Being the nerd that I am, I have always loved school.  Though I never really thought about it all that much when I was in the midst of studying for subjects like math, history, or science, now that I'm removed from that atmosphere, I am realizing that there's something really comforting about studying subjects like these (at least up until the college level.  I can't speak for what they are like at the graduate level because I haven't experienced it) that is just not present in studying music.  

One of the biggest comforts for me in studying these subjects was the fact that I could predict what the outcome will be like based on the amount of effort I had put into preparing for them.  This is true for music, but only to a certain degree. There are just so many outside forces that can affect your performance that wouldn't even matter in an academic setting.  For example, during the most recent audition I took, it started pouring rain and flooding as I started my way to walk over to the audition building from the rehearsal building.  Thank you, Houston for being incredibly sunny with blue skies all day up until that moment... If you are ever auditioning in Houston, remember to bring an umbrella, no matter how ridiculously sunny it is outside.  So I played my audition soaking wet and shivering.  So this outside force (pretty petty, if you think about it... I just got rained on, no big deal, right?) that I had no control over ended up affecting my playing quite a bit.  
Now, let us take a look at my AP Calculus test day.  That morning, I woke up to my phone ringing in the most obnoxious way possible.  I rolled over, thinking 'uggg why is someone calling me this early?!', and picked up the phone.  It was my friend, Peter.  "Janny! where are you? We're about to start our exam!"  Thankfully, the test center was right next to my dorm, so I was able to roll out of bed and get there in a couple of minutes; just in time to sit down, fill out my information, and start.  Granted, at first my brain was still asleep and I couldn't even remember how to solve something ridiculously simple like 'what is the derivative of X^2', I was prepared for the test and was able to ace the test by the end of the allotted time. 
The second scenario had so many more awful things happening (no breakfast, brain still asleep, no snacks--I was most upset about this one haha--, freaking out about missing the test...) yet the outcome was such that I can laugh about it now. If I had inserted 'audition' for 'AP Calculus Test' in that scenario...  I would probably be too scarred by the outcome (no matter how prepared I was) to even be speaking about it right now.

Also, in studying the academics, there's a sense of 'ok, I learned that, now let's move on'.  For example, the alphabet.  We all learned it. We mastered it. We moved on, and have never looked back.  How absurd would it be if a college student said there's a class dedicated to learning the English alphabet at his university?  Well, that's exactly what happens with music  haha.  I learned the scales when I first began playing the violin; I am still working on them now, and I shall be working on them until the day I die. yup yup. 

But these absurdly difficult and volatile aspects of music does mean that every day will be 'interesting'... and no two days will be the same.  One day, I nail these uber difficult passages, and the next day, I can't even play the scales 50% in tune...  Once I sort of fix a crooked bow problem, I all of a sudden develop what my teacher Mr. Lin called a 'frog-phobia'...  when did this happen?!  sigh... it's never ending  haha.   Ok, so maybe it doesn't sound all that exciting when put in these terms... but there's something about the fact that I will always be striving to achieve something that I never will be able to achieve that is incredibly stimulating.  That plus the beauty and the power of music,,, how can you say no?  right? --let us just be idealists for a little while here  ;)

Anyway, if you do have a bad audition, or just have a moment of 'man... how am I going to make it as a musician?' which all of us have at one time or another, Amulet and I suggest treating yourself to some frozen yogurt.  =)
it worked for us!  haha

The only downside to this is that we may be spending way too much time here,,, instead of, say, practicing  haha  ;)

Yay ice cream!!!

Well, I hadn't meant for it to become such a long post!  haha.  I was just more or less writing out my train of thought that began on my walk home on this incredibly hot and humid day.
I hope you had a wonderful day, and thanks for reading!

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