Is it really 2014? Crap…

Accepting my Bluejacket of the Quarter commendation letter
Accepting my Bluejacket of the Quarter commendation letter in July

Well, another year in the books.  This year went by very fast!  I think its true, that the older you get, the faster time goes.  I kind of wish that it was the other way around.  Not that I hated my childhood, I just think that adulthood is way more fun.

Receiving my Bluejacket of the Year commendation letter a few weeks ago.
Receiving my Bluejacket of the Year commendation letter a few weeks ago.

Lets see, what happened in 2013?  Well, I started really excelling at work, getting Bluejacket of the Quarter for the 2nd quarter of 2013, and coming away with Bluejacket of the Year for 2013!  Now if only I can get promoted…

I did some pretty cool gigs this year too…going on the road and playing a concert with the woodwind quintet in South Carolina, the Tattoo in April, being on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor on NPR, a couple of ship commissionings, and the christening of the newest aircraft carrier, to name a few.  Wow, my job is cool!

I just had to take a picture of the sign out side Mr. Keillor's dressing room, haha.
I just had to take a picture of the sign out side Mr. Keillor’s dressing room, haha.

Ben and I also celebrated 5 years of marriage this year, now talk about time going by fast!  Its crazy.  We celebrated by running a race…well race for me, and races for him.  It was this race in Williamsburg.  We both ran the 8k on Saturday and he ran the 1/2 marathon on Sunday.  It’s pretty cool to see how much each of us has changed in five years…neither of us would have dreamed that this is how we would celebrate our fifth anniversary!

Ben and I after the 8k, celebrating our anniversary.
Ben and I after the 8k, celebrating our anniversary.

Speaking of running, I completed my 2nd half marathon in September, bouncing back from an injury that kept me from running for the first half of the year.

Enjoying my well deserved beer after running 13.1 miles in just about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

2013 also saw one of my best friends finally tie the knot.  It was wonderful to be able to go home to Colorado to be there!  Not only did I see the guy

that was in my bridal party (yes, I had a brides-man) finally marry the girl of his dreams, but I also reconnected with many old friends.  You know when you have good friends when a large amount of time passes between seeing each other, but it feels like no time has passed.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have so many people like that in my life.

I also was able to dive back into chamber music, being a member of the WWQ at work, and playing the Reinecke Horn/clarinet trio for a  chamber music recital with a friend.  It’s that sort of stuff that reminds me of why I do what I do, and why I work so hard at it.  I have a recording of our performance of the Reinecke up on the audio section of my media page.

Me and my long time girlfriends (and my awesome sister in the front!)
Me and my long time girlfriends (and my awesome sister in the front!)

This summer I got the opportunity to go home to Colorado for a whole two weeks!  It was great.  I really miss that place.  Ben and I got to get away from family for a couple of days and spent some time in Breckenridge.  Our hotel was beautiful!  And cheap…off season prices.

Seriously, how awesome a view is that?
Hotel view in Breckenridge.  Seriously, how awesome a view is that?

And my sister and I finally did what we had been wanting to do/talking about for a long time…a sister trip to Las Vegas!  We were only there for a couple days, but we had a blast.  We even took a trapeze class!

I returned from vacation to take on what was probably the biggest challenge that I had this year…teaching the woodwind section at a local high school’s marching band.  Whew, I sure didn’t know what I was getting into!  But it was worth every minute, every stress headache, and every frustration.  It showed me how much satisfaction I get from teaching!  This is a video of their final performance at nationals in November (I’m so proud of how far they came this year!):

Last big thing I did this year was take the President’s Own audition. It has occurred to me that I never posted my “post-audition thoughts”, perhaps because I was so frustrated with how I did. Long story short, I did not do as well as I had hoped, or as well as I knew I could. I mentally sabotaged myself…AGAIN. So, part of my goals for 2014 is to really dive into matching my mental state during high pressure situations to my mental state during relaxed situations. I seem to over-think and become super aware of what I am doing in these high pressure situations, and that’s exactly what happened during the audition and I flubbed a note in the Mozart.  A stupid note.  The Mozart that I have played perfectly a billion times over.  You see the frustration?  I could see my dreams flying away in that audition room.

So…2014.  What am I going to do with you?  Well, on the musical front, I would like to do a recital this year sometime.  I know I say that every year, but I’m gonna do it this year!  Other than that I want to  focus more on actions instead of goals…I was motivated by this article I saw in my Facebook feed:

It makes sense!  So my “goal” for 2014 is to practice fundamentals, no matter how much, at least 6 days a week.  I’m going to not care about the end result.  I figured that’s my problem, I’m too concerned with the end result!

On a personal front, me and Ben are going to see a lot of changes in 2014…about a month ago I received word on probable orders to leave Norfolk.  I’m not going to say to where just yet, just because I don’t have the orders in writing.  Things are never certain in the military!  But nevertheless, I’m very excited.  Sad to leave all the opportunities I’ve created for myself here, but still excited.

I’m trying to get back in the groove, I’ve been pretty sick the past week (the week that I was going to start practicing again, hmmmf.) so its been a little difficult.  But I’m back to work on Monday whether I like it or not!  (or whether I’m ready or not!)  Go go gadget 2014!

When it rains, it pours.

I’ve noticed something in my musical life the past couple years.  Either I have nothing to practice, or too much to practice.  Right now, I have too much!  Between WWQ stuff at work, VWS, and the President’s Own audition in December (just about 5 weeks away), I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed mostly because I can’t seem to find enough time to practice, if at all on some days.  It can be very frustrating at times, because I find myself having to put in practice time on my days off when I really should be taking a break from everything, or spending the little time I have with my husband.

I needed to organize.  I’m all about practice efficiency…so I wrote everything down!  That really seems to help for me.  First I listed everything that I need to practice according to group or event (WWQ, VWS, audition, etc.)  Then I separated everything in to three groups: “need to learn”, “review”, and “maintain”.  Here’s a snapshot of my lists for WWQ and the audition:

photoIts pretty simple: the “need to learn” is first priority.  “Review” is second, and “maintain” is last.  That has seemed to help make things a little less daunting, and so that I don’t forget about stuff (which is easy to do for WWQ, since our book is starting to get very large!)  I’ve also prioritized my lists…as in audition stuff and WWQ stuff are first, other things come after.  I also have a list for VWS, ICA 2014 orchestral competition (which I haven’t even begun to practice), and I made a list of solos that I want to work on (I really want to give a recital at some point…obviously not until spring at the earliest).  Getting organized like this has really lessened my stress level!

This week was the last week of official teaching at Cox HS.  Wednesday was my last rehearsal of the season.  It ended up being harder than I thought…those kids have really gotten to me!  They have a special place in my heart, for sure.  I’ll miss seeing their crazy little faces every week.  I have a confession…I cried all the way home after that rehearsal.  I’m such a sap, but I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished, and what they will do on Saturday at the national competition.  I was just overwhelmed with emotions…pride, happiness, and sadness that it was all over for me.  I feels like just yesterday was the start of band camp!  I wish I could go with them this weekend, but I’ve got Navy gigs galore (including the christening of the new aircraft carrier!) and plus my parents are here visiting.  I’ll post a video once the competition is over this weekend.

I’m looking forward to doing some volunteer work for their concert band season in the coming months, teaching lessons and running some sectionals, and then working a “band camp” in February with their wind ensemble and symphonic bands.  So my time at Cox is certainly not over, which makes me happy.  Now, I just need to pray to the Navy gods that they won’t send me anywhere before next November/December!  My projected rotation date is a year from now, so fingers crossed!!  I learned so much about teaching the last three months, I want another chance, now that I know more about competitive marching band.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I agreed to this back in May…there was definitely a lot of trial and error on my part.  I’m so thankful for the two student leaders (woodwind captain, and band captain…both clarinet players by the way!  And did I mention that the drum major is a clarinet player?  I’m noticing a nice trend here…) that helped me along the way.

One thing I’m thankful for now that marching band season is over is the time I’m getting back.  I’ve been so busy, it almost feels like it was when I was working at the hospital in NY.  But, it is much better because my hours are filled with rehearsals and teaching.  I’ve just had hardly any time to practice as I mentioned before.  Unfortunately, this weekend is definitely out for practicing…not only do I have a million gigs, but my parents are here!  Should be fun though, this is their first time visiting me in Virginia.  I’m hoping to do some touristy things, things that I haven’t even gotten to do yet here!  that’s one great thing about this place; Norfolk/VA Beach is full of things to do, unlike Rochester.  My parents are staying on the oceanfront, with an ocean view hotel room.  Yeah off season!

So starting Tuesday…practice practice practice!!  I want to do really well at this audition.  And I want to play well for our WWQ concert 3 days later, haha!

Teaching may be my calling…

This week was the first week of official band camp for the kids I’m working with at a local high school in Virginia Beach. This is no joke for them, 10 hours a day Monday through Friday!! And they get to do it again next week.  I get exhausted just thinking about it. Anyway, most of the playing took place in the afternoons, so I didn’t have to be there the entire day!  Not that I could have, I still have my Navy job to do, which obviously has to take priority.  So I tried to be there as much as my schedule would allow.  Still, that made for very full days for me!  Something I haven’t experienced in a long time.  Wednesday was a 12 hour day for me…between Navy gigs, the high school, and teaching my own private lessons, I wasn’t done until after 8pm!  And I spent 2 hours of that 12 hours in the car going from place to place.  It took me almost an hour to get from the high school in VA Beach to one of my lessons in Portsmouth!  Ugh…good thing I’m passionate about this stuff.

And on the practicing front…I’m trying to get as much as I can in.  Right now, I’m focusing on scale exercises, more specifically the Didier scale book (which I have worked out of before, and mentioned it in my blog)  I basically got really sick of the daily routine that I have been doing everyday for about 3ish years.  So sick of it that I dreaded doing it.  So now I do long tones, articulation exercises, and a key out of the Didier, applying a ton of articulations to each study.  Its been working out pretty good for me I think.  I’m really focusing on relaxing my fingers and being focused.  Easier said than done!  I’m also trying to get in some wind ensemble practicing, and I’m trying to learn some new, hard marches.

Still waiting for that opening in the DC Navy Band…hahaha.