My Social Distancing

Hi guys, I hope everyone is doing well during this weird time.  I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that I all of the sudden have way more time than we had anticipated in the next few weeks.  

So before this virus thing happened and completely shut down the world, my plate was rather full.  At work, I am the unit leader for the woodwind quintet which takes up a lot of time, I am also in charge of the public affairs office at the band, and on top of those two major things, the navy band in D.C. recently announced another audition to be held in May.  Outside of work, I was busy with my family, and also working one night a week at Cox High School here in Virginia Beach teaching woodwinds.  When I had time, I was working on my next blog post, breaking down the excerpt from Samuel Barber’s “School for Scandal” overture that has been so popular lately for military band auditions.  I have done lots of research, so I will post about it eventually.  Unfortunately (I never thought I would say that), the excerpt is not on the upcoming Navy Band audition, so it has been put to the side for now.

Fast forward to now, and its pretty amazing how fast things change.  Within just a few days, literally everything I had coming up in the next two months was cancelled or postponed, and I started working mostly from home.  Although I am working from home, a lot of the public affairs projects I had planned were contingent on things that have been cancelled or postponed! And no rehearsals either, so I find that I have a lot more time for practicing (and blogging!) I have spent the last few weeks starting preparation for the (now postponed) Navy Band audition.  I find myself in a weird place that I’ve never been before…I started going all in preparing for an audition and now its on hold indefinitely.  I don’t know the new audition date.  Will the rep stay the same?  Not sure.  Best thing I can do is try to keep practicing, and hopefully when things return to normal I can pick up where I left off.  

I’m a super planner when it comes to auditions.  I’m not going to go into too many details about what I do because I’ve covered this in a previous post about audition planning.  I basically still do the same thing as I posted back in 2014, and I go a little crazy with the spreadsheets now (you can check out my google sheets file if you want to here).  I was still in the first phase of audition prep when all this Coronavirus stuff went down.  So I’ve introduced a 4th phase…postponement.  

Basically, now until the audition has an actual date again, I’ll be in this “postponement” phase.  I wanted to create a routine that didn’t take too much time out of my practice session and at the same time kept me familiar with the audition rep.  So I divided up the excerpts into 4 groups, based on difficulty/priority:

One group per day rotation, with some low priority excerpt rotation within that. The three excerpts on the bottom weren’t even in my rotation for the first phase, but I decided to just add them in for good measure just in case, even if its just listening. The plan for most excerpts is to play each one once at 75% tempo, once at half tempo, and then mental run through at the marked tempo. Thats it! And if you’re wondering about the A clarinet thing…I rotate my warmups on different instruments.  One day I’ll warm up on Bb, next day on A, etc.  I am actually rotating through four instruments right now: two A/Bb sets (one is my personal, and one is the Navy’s). This way I’m used to playing on all instruments.  I’m still not sure what instruments I’ll end up playing on for the audition. So that’s what I’m doing right now.

This will create some time for me to work on other things, like woodwind quintet music!  We have an amazing group of musicians in the group right now, so we are pushing the boundaries of what we can do, difficulty wise.  I’m hoping that the band sends us out on tour in the near future!  But who knows what the next weeks or months will bring.  We aren’t rehearsing right now because of the virus.  Best thing we can do is practice our parts safely in our own homes!

Also, I’ve been wanting to post short videos of my practicing for awhile, mostly for my own accountability but I think others would benefit from it also.  I really like Instagram, but didn’t want to flood my own IG account with clarinet videos or switch it to a public account, so that’s been the only thing that’s been stopping me.  I thought about uploading stuff to YouTube, but I prefer the simplicity and accessibility of IG.  I also am not interested in posting anything longer than a minute or two.  

Well, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but I just created a new IG account just for my clarinet posts!  So please follow me, my username is sandytheclarinerd.  I’ll try to post daily, and I’ll embed videos on here when I post a blog.

That’s my update for now! I hope everyone is socially distancing themselves so we can get through this phase in our lives quickly. Although its fun working from home and everything right now, it’s probably going to get old pretty fast. I hope things can return to normal soon!

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