slow, slow, and more slow

The last couple weeks I’ve been really getting focused on this Navy Band audition.  I’m the type of person that believes that everything happens for a reason – I try to find the positive result of every negative situation.  I think that there is a reason that I’m having to wait until May to join the Navy, and that reason is this audition in January.  I really want to do well at this audition.  My recruiter is really excited for me, and he’s putting a little bit of pressure on me to win this audition.  If I win, I will be superior to most of the recruiters in the office!  As of now, I will come out of boot camp and be an E-3 (Seaman).  If I win the audition, I will come out of boot camp an E-6 (Petty Officer First Class).  For most, it takes several years of enlisted service to achieve this rate.  So what does it mean, really?  Um, more money, pure and simple.  To the tune of about $600 per month!  So for me to get to E-6 right away would be awesome!

I read a blog the other day of Richie Hawley, who is the clarinetist in the Cincinatti Symphony – he quotes another renown clarinetist/teacher, Yehuda Gilad (ahem…his students are winning all the auditions, I might add!): “When you are on stage, everything leaves you EXCEPT your preparation”.  Ain’t that the truth!!!!  This may have been my problem all along.  As much as I thought I was prepared for all my auditions, I really wasn’t TRULY prepared.  I was dependent on other things that I have in the practice room but vanish at the audition: calmness, steady fingers, etc.

Obviously I’ve had somewhat of an epiphany.  I realized that I did well at my Navy fleet audition was because I was SUPER prepared (I had almost 3 months!).  I practiced slowly, meticulously, and efficiently.  I had a great routine everyday – and it paid off!  I was confident, cool and (somewhat) collected at my audition.  So I’ve decided to do this to the nth degree.  I have settled on the same routine pretty much every day: about an hour of long tones/scales/articulation exercises (based on Robert Spring’s warm up routine – modified for Sandy, a mere mortal), then I play through every Navy excerpt  slowly – even the “slow” excerpts I take about 10 clicks off the tempo.  I think about technique, breath control, tone, and especially musicality.  Well, all but one – the Dvorak Carnival Overture excerpt.  It is the obligatory band transcription excerpt, although it is much more manageable than others I’ve had to attempt (ahem…ARMY BAND argh).  For those who don’t know,  in band transcriptions of orchestral pieces, clarinetists get all the violin parts.  Except generally its a lot harder on clarinet than on a violin (obviously the arrangers don’t care).  I have a recording of the Marine Band playing the piece, and it literally sounds like the clarinets are one metronome click away from crashing and burning.  And that’s the Marine Band. Anyway, I’ve never played it before so I’m trying to get it up to tempo.  Its really high and really fast, but I’m slowly making progress.  I’m close to breaking the half note = 100 barrier, and the final tempo is half = 132.  My goal is to have it at tempo by Christmas, then I’ll practice it slow for two weeks after that, then alternate slow and at tempo practice until the audition.  Hopefully that will work…eek.

In other news, I did not get chosen as a finalist for the Youtube Symphony thing.  Meh.  I was disappointed at first, but now I’m over it.  My video was pretty good, but it wasn’t super.  It could have been much better.  Hey, it was pretty good considering I only allowed myself 3 weeks to prepare excerpts that I hadn’t played in almost a year!  And I learned a lot about making videos, which is good.  I think I’m going to make videos every few weeks to check on my playing, since I don’t really have a teacher at the moment.

Well, that’s all for now.  Merry Christmas everyone!

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