I’ve spent the last couple months since the navy band audition trying to figure out things. Do I want to keep trying to get into DC? Or should I just accept the fact that I need to focus more on my career in the fleet? Or do I need to even make a decision like that right now?
For the last couple years, I’ve realized that a lot of my problems comes from mental lapses in concentration. It makes sense, if you think about it…mistakes made aren’t because I don’t know how to play clarinet, its because I tend to think about things other than the execution of what I’m doing. I’ve noticed that as of late I’ve become very lazy in my concentration, especially during my daily fundamentals. So I decided to record my daily fundamentals routine, then listen back and literally count every single mistake I make.
The results were quite humbling. On the first day I counted over 100 mistakes! And that was in just my 45 minute fundamentals routine. Yikes. There is no excuse for that. If I’m making that many mistakes in my fundamentals, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I make so many mistakes in every other aspect of my playing!
I think just being aware of this helped immensely. The next day was drastically better, I reduced the number of mistakes by nearly half. I had decided to record my fundamentals every day, and listen back to all the errors. Here’s the problem with this method though: listening back to the recordings turned out to be incredibly boring.
I even tried to listen to it while I was on my pumping breaks at work. It was painfully boring, I couldn’t stand it! There had to be a better way for me to be accountable for mental mistakes than to listen to long tones and scales for 45 minutes every day. I decided to just count them as I made them, in real time, no recording. Every time I made a flub because of a mental lapse, I would click my little counter app on my phone. It meant that I would have to stop every time I made a mistake (which could possibly be bad habit forming), but I think that made me more aware of my problems.
My fundamentals got better and better each day, and I feel like I’m paying more attention to what I’m doing…I couldn’t just go through the motions. While I don’t expect myself to be perfect, I do expect myself to have 100% focus. I’m getting there.
The other day, I ran across this blog of a violin teacher who had held a virtual audition challenge, that actually coincided with an actual violin audition for the NY Philharmonic. As I read about it, it seemed like something that could help me, especially since I want to get better at auditions. This is a good way to practice the preparation. I contacted the teacher, asking him for details about the challenge, hoping to adapt it to clarinet. I think it will adapt pretty well! I’m currently working on an excerpt list and an assignment schedule, so if any of you clarinet players want to do the challenge with me, please let me know! We don’t have to be as formal as the violin challenge, but it would be nice to have some accountability.
I’m coming off of two weeks of “momcation”, as in, I’ve been on leave taking care of my son while my husband is off refereeing a hockey tournament. Its been super fun being at home with my little one, but I think I’m ready to get back to the grind. Although I just came off of four months of maternity leave and I’ve only been back for a couple months, I felt like I needed the break from my job. Adjustment to being back at work after having a baby was a lot more stressful and energy sucking than I thought it would be. Hopefully I can go back next week with a fresh mentality!