I had an audition Sunday for placement into an adult chamber music program at SUNY Stony Brook. This is the first audition that I have had since I started playing again. It’s a really good thing that this was only for placement – i.e. which ensemble I should be put in – rather than acceptance into the program itself.
Sunday morning I warmed up really carefully and then played thru my audition piece, Strauss’ Nocturno. My chops weren’t in the best shape but they were okay considering that I started on a new mouthpiece the week before. The audition was at 3 pm and I was able to warm up again for about 15 minutes before I had to play. I played really, really well during this warm up so I went in to the audition with a marginal amount of confidence.
Well, I couldn’t have played worse if I tried. It was absolutely awful. The funny thing was I didn’t feel very nervous but clearly I was. I played really badly. I’m going to have to find opportunities to play in front of people. Not only was this my first audition, it was the first time I played in front of anyone other than my horn teachers. I’m not counting playing in band or in the horn choirs I played in at IHS and the Barry Tuckwell Institute. I have no problem playing in band rehearsals or concerts even when I have an exposed part. I think being mostly invisible helps.
At the audition it didn’t help that the lady listening to me told me, before I started the audition, that my playing was ‘stunning.’ That is a term that I would save for the horn masters of the world. I guess she must have heard me out in the hall when I was warming up and was thinking ‘this is an adult amateur who is playing very well’. I know she’s heard hornists who play a thousand times better than I do because she was in an ensemble with Lynn, my horn teacher, last year. Anyway, if I was nervous before I walked into the room, this put me off the charts.
Every now and then, and only when I am alone, I actually play like I used to and I’m capable of putting together a musical phrase without any clams and with really nice tone. Definitely not stunning but decent. It doesn’t happen often but it’s what keeps me going. I know that if I can play really beautifully once eventually I will be able to do it more often. And hopefully I will be able to do it in front of other people. I still can’t play well when I’m recording myself so I have a long way to go dealing with nerves. I guess the only remotely good thing about this audition is that I will probably be placed in a group that will be somewhat easy for me which will help with the nerves when we perform in January. The downside is that it will be less challenging.