waiver waiting

Still waiting to hear about my waiver…bleh this is horrible!  I feel like I’m in purgatory or something.  Hopefully it will be approved soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting motivated again to practice.  I really would like to do a recital before I leave, in Colorado and in Rochester if possible.  The logistics are quite daunting…2 recitals in 2 different states – that means that I will have to get 2 different pianists…and if I do a couple wind duos I’ll have to find separate players for that!  It might be a good challenge though, I’ve never organized anything like this before.  For the potential recital, I’m working on Muczinski Time Pieces (its a lot harder than I remember!) and Finzi Five Bagatelles at the moment.  I’m also trying to look for a good Eb piece to play, either with piano or unaccompanied — if anyone has any suggestions, shoot them my way!  I’ve also got one of the Beethoven Duos for clarinet and bassoon on my stand…I would love to play it if I can find a good bassoonist to play with (two, if I decide to do both Rochester and Colorado)  Also want to do the Poulenc duo.  Got some clarinetists in mind for that one in both states!  But we’ll see how everything comes together.

A rant…sorry

I’m going to warn you now, this post is all about hating my life right now and complaining about it.  There, you were warned.

I don’t know what it is…but I’m starting to get that depressed feeling again like my life is going nowhere.  I know its not, but it certainly feels like it.  I’m stuck in this rut of not knowing about whether or not the medical waiver for the navy will go through, and not knowing how long it will take!!  Still haven’t heard a word about it And people keep asking me about it, which honestly is making it feel worse.  I keep thinking about how wonderful it will be to not be a 9-5er anymore and that I’ll actually have time to put into practicing that I have been wishing I had for over a year.

I am so tired of working all day and only being able to practice at night.  I want to be able to practice first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the day!  I want to be able to have my evenings free to relax and be a normal person.  I can’t do that right now, and I haven’t been able to do that for a year.  Its really starting to wear on me!  I actually haven’t even been practicing lately – I haven’t really seriously practiced for two weeks!  Well I practiced for about an hour and a half last Monday, but I hardly think that it was countable.  But I did decide on a tentative program for a recital, but I’ll save it for another blog post I’m not in the mood right now!

This is how I feel today.

I’m also fed up with being in Rochester and dealing with Ben and I’s conflicting work schedule.  I cannot wait until we are (hopefully) working normalish hours and can spend evenings (or at least dinner) together.  I really miss that.  I cannot wait to move somewhere new!  I know Great Lakes won’t be that fun because its boot camp, but I think living in Virginia Beach for 3 months or more will be neat, even though Ben won’t be there with me 😦 And I cannot forget about the final destination – California!  (well, if they grant me my first choice of assignment that is!) I have always wanted to live there.  Ben will be much happier there too – there are more opportunities for him there.  NO MORE PARKING DEPARTMENT YAY.  The new Katy Perry song is our new theme song, LOL.

Looking forward is really exciting, but it is making me very depressed about my life right now, especially because I don’t know when the new chapter will start.  I’m at the point where if they told me I was shipping out tomorrow I would go without a problem.  I feel like I’m physically ready for BT, and mentally ready to get the hell outta NY!!!

Maybe bowling with the ESM clarinet studio tonight will put me in a better mood (which I was kindly invited to thank you!!!)  Bowling is always a good time.  I just have to be careful not to drink so many beers this time, LOL!

time to get back to it…

I finally told my employer on Friday that I will be leaving in the next few months.  It was way harder than I thought!  I actually cried, LOL.  I can’t believe how understanding and happy they were for me.  I’ve formed a bond with my boss and my co-workers of the last year and its going to be hard to leave!  But I’m ready to live my dream!

Still waiting on  my waiver to go through…really don’t know how long that will take.  I hope it doesn’t take forever, I’M SO READY TO GO! I need a change, so does Ben.  We are ready for a new beginning on the
west coast.  I’m really sad that I will be apart from Ben for 5 months or more, but it will be worth it at the end.

I’m going to be coming back to practicing today after an unintended hiatus last week.  After all the stress and everything from the beginning of the week, I kinda just wanted to relax…so I did!  It was nice, but I know I have to get back to it this week.  I’m still debating about doing a recital in Colorado, but without a ship date, its hard to plan for it right now.  I’m also thinking about doing one in Rochester at some point…I guess I need to start making some decisions!  This week I’m going to play through some music and kind of figure out a potential program.  I’m thinking…duets?  Chamber music?  I don’t know, it will be difficult because I will have limited time to rehearse.  I also have to think of a venue….something free or relatively cheap!  I’m broke 😛

Lots to think about and plan for this week!  I’ll try to keep updated on my progress.

Music and MEPS

Its been a crazy few days, and I finally feel like sitting down and writing. Concert Sunday, and then I finally made it to MEPS this week. But I’ll start at the beginning. I had the pleasure of playing Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun with the chamber group, Ad hoc. We played the chamber arrangement of it, which, according to the score was “arranged under the auspices of Arnold Schoenberg”. I assume that meant that one of his students was the arranger? Whatever. Its actually a pretty good arrangement for strings (solo strings in our case), flute, oboe, clarinet, piano, and harmonium (and apparently there are about 6 crotale notes – we didn’t have it and nobody noticed haha). The clarinet part is about the same as the full orchestra version with additions here and there to replace bassoon and english horn parts…including the English horn solo towards the end, which is extremely awkward on clarinet! I really enjoy the part and I feel privileged to be involved in such great music-making.

That’s a faun, by the way.

On Friday, I got an email from the organizer/conductor asking if I had anything to play as a solo (basically the way the concerts work is that there is one big piece, and then we fill in with solos/chamber music). She was contacting me because I had initially shown interest in playing the Poulenc Sonata for one of the concerts, but my practicing has gone a little to the wayside so I decided not to pursue it. But I felt bad about backing out, so I decided to play the adagio movement from the Mozart Concerto.  It was easy (ish) for me, and also easy for the pianist, so I thought that would be a good one since I only had 2 days to prepare, and it truly is a gem in the repertoire.  So I got in touch with one of the pianists involved in the concert and we rehearsed on Saturday morning.  I had never actually performed the movement, so it was probably good that i was doing this.  The performance went really well, I was pleased.  I even had enough time to work out some ornamentation!  I was feeling my creative juices flowing, it felt great.

In other news, I took off a day of work to go to MEPS (means “military enlistment processing station”).  I arrived at the hotel on Monday night (all paid for), and prepared for the 4:45am wake up call the next morning.  My roommate was also a Navy girl, but she was shipping out to boot camp the next day.  Yikes!  That will be me soon!  Anyway, I got a free meal in the hotel restaurant which was actually really good.  In the morning, my roommate and I went down at 5am (!!) to eat breakfast.  Out off all the thirty some that were there, only 4 of us were girls!  Breakfast was really good, it was nice and hot, and of course, free.  The bus came at 5:45 to take us to the station, and we arrived at about 6am.

The thing I noticed most about my day was how organized everything was.  Yes, a flood of enlistees came in the door at 6am, but we were sorted very quickly, and there was never any question in my mind of where I needed to be at any given time.  I was always given very specific instructions which I appreciated (even telling me which chair in the waiting room to sit in!).  I spent all morning in the medical department – it was the only thing I had left to do because I already had a job unlike everyone else, and I had already taken the ASVAB.  If you want, you can read about what I had to do here: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/a/mepsglance.htm  It was a lot.  I even had to pee in front of some lady, that was fun. LOL

Throughout the morning, I met with the head medical guy several times.  I grew to really hate him, he was almost manipulative with his questioning.  Eventually, he told me I was disqualified medically because of some gyno surgery I had back in 2007 to zap some pre-cancerous cells.  I’ve had negative lab tests since Feb 2008 and I’m still apparently disqualified.  So lame.  There is a very good chance that I can get a waiver, but its not guaranteed.  So I’m waiting and hoping for right now.  I really don’t know what I will do if I am permanently disqualified, I seriously almost broke down in tears when the guy told me that it was a possibility.  I’m hoping things will work out though.

I got done with everything at around noon, but unfortunately my ride didn’t come to pick me up until after 2:30!  I tried to keep a positive attitude throughout the whole thing, there was soooo much waiting around throughout the day.  It wasn’t as bad as people say it is, but I ‘m glad its over.  Once I get the waiver, I’ll have to go back to finish getting processed, and then hopefully I will get an official date that I’m leaving!

Poulenc…six years in the making

Recently, I’ve been working on the Poulenc Sonata which has been an interesting experience. I first played the piece back in 2004 for my junior recital, I chose it because I had heard a girl play it for her senior recital back when I was a freshman. The only thing I remembered about the piece back then were the opening licks – they just stuck in my brain and I loved it!


I really wanted to give it a go for myself. So I did. I played it. I HATED IT. I was so happy when it was over and I could put it away. I haven’t even thought about playing it since. I have always told people, “I love listening to the piece, but I hate playing it.” I even told that to my students who have brought it to their lessons. A few weeks ago I decided to blow the dust off of it and try it again. I am pleased to say that I am actually enjoying myself very much! I finally have figured out why I hated playing it so much. I wasn’t good enough. Its really that simple. The piece demands a lot of knowledge about your own sound and voicing. Back in 2004, I knew nothing of the sort, or even choosing the correct reed. I was playing on a worn out Gigliotti 2 mouthpiece with Vandoren 3’s! I’m curious, but scared to listen to the recording of my Junior recital because of how horrible my setup was. Its amazing the transformation of my playing in the 3 short years it took from that point to me getting into Eastman (shout out to Abby Raymond! She’s the one who got me there).

Anyways, armed with a proper mouthpiece (Hawkins R, if anyone is curious – thanks to Mr. Grant!!) and a proper strength of reed, and appropriate knowledge about voicing (especially in the altissimo register!) now my Poulenc experience has been all but positive. If I feel like it, I might post a recording…maybe.

Chamber music

So its been awhile since I’ve posted anything…I’ve been really busy! What’s new, right? It seems like I’m always busy. I’ve been trying to squeeze practicing and preparing physically for boot camp into my evenings after working all day. Last week was really hard – my co-worker was on vacation all week so I was covering for her and trying to do my job too! I ended up getting a little bit of overtime, so my paycheck yesterday was a little bit fatter, which was nice, especially because I haven’t had any students for the last month and a half. Anywho…

This month I’m playing with a little chamber group called “Ad hoc”, and we’re putting on concerts every Sunday. Last week was the first one, we played Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, and I got to play the principal part. It has been over a year since I’ve played in a small group, so it was really refreshing to play in a more intimate setting again. But the first 10 minutes or so of rehearsal was really rough for me – it was a shock to be playing in an ensemble like that after so long! I was having issues counting rests (I’ve never been very good at it anyway), and tuning especially. But after a few minutes, I was able to settle in, and it felt like second nature again. The concert went really well, it was a great first concert.

Tomorrow we are performing the Mozart Serenade, K. 338. Its an awesome piece, I am really enjoying myself with it. I’m playing second, which is really where I feel more comfortable. I find the process of blending and matching the principal player is much more rewarding to me than playing a beautiful solo. I’ve known that for awhile, I really could never be a great principal player. My home is definitely the harmony parts! Next Sunday I’m playing principal again for Debussy Afternoon of a Faun – one of my favorite orchestra pieces!! And I know the part very well…thanks to conducting orchestra at Eastman! We are playing the chamber version that was arranged by one of Schoenberg’s students. Very excited for that one, I’m sure I’ll write more about it next week.

As far as Navy progress…I finally have a date to go to Buffalo for my physical and to sign my enlistment contract!! I’ll be going on August 17 – that is the next best day that I can go. The doctor there is off all week next week, and I can’t really take work off on Mondays, so its next Tuesday. I’m ready to get outta Rochester! I hope that I can go to boot camp sooner than later, I’m pretty much ready physically. I can do pushups now LOL! And I’ve been running a ton lately. I’m so ready to go!

still waiting…

I still am waiting to do my physical for the Navy. Its been kinda frustrating because I was expecting to go last weekend, but it was postponed at the last minute because the University of Rochester didn’t get my records to them in time. So annoying! So now I have to wait until the 24th…hopefully everything will go well then (cross your fingers!). Its been almost a month since my successful audition…really frustrating that I’m still struggling to get everything in order and get a ship out date! Its been really hard to keep in on the DL at work…although someone already found out through facebook! Luckily she is the only one that I’m friends with on facebook from work, and she said she wouldn’t say anything until its official. (Thanks Kara!) Can’t wait until it is!!!!

Anyway, I’ve been asked to play in a series of concerts in August, which has given me my motivation back to practice! I’ll be playing pieces with a large group, and then we have opportunities to play either a solo or get together with other players to do chamber stuff. I am thinking about playing the Poulenc Sonata, I haven’t seriously worked on it for almost 6 years and I have been wanting to revisit it for awhile. I’ve actually taught the piece more than I have played it, ha!

I’m thinking about what I would want to play if I decided to give a recital in CO…Poulenc is definitley on that list. I’m limiting the possibilities to things that I have performed/studied in the past…I don’t have time to learn something new right now! I was thinking of doing the Larsen Dancing solo again…mostly because I really love that piece, and it is one of those pieces that I will always find something new in. Also on the list as possibilites: Mozart, Muczinski Time Pieces, Finzi Five Bagatelles, Stravinsky 3 pieces, maybe a duet of some sort (possibly one of the Beethoven bassoon-clarinet duets, or the Poulenc duet) depending on if I can find a friend to play with! Rep is dependent on if I can find a decent pianist as well. The better the pianist, the more options I will have. I was extremely spoiled at Eastman with very talented pianists! I could play whatever the hell I wanted, it was so nice.

The other day I went over to Eastman to practice, I needed to get music from someone and I thought I’d might as well stick around and get some “big room” practicing done. I went up to the annex 7th floor classrooms, I haven’t been up there in so long! Brought back a lot of memories of rehearsing and classes, it felt good. It also brought on a kind of “aha” moment for me. My teacher at Eastman really prepared me to NOT have a teacher. As I reflected back on what I had accomplished over the past year, I truly realized that I haven’t had consistent teacher for the last year (besides coming in to play every few months before auditions) and I still managed to become a better clarinet player than the one who graduated 14 months ago. (!!) I don’t think I could have ask for anything better…sure, a teacher can teach you technique and musicality but if they don’t teach you HOW to practice and and listen to yourself it really doesn’t do much good for your future endeavors. I remember when I started at Eastman…I was good (obviously, I got in!) but I was alllllll over the place with my sound. Makes me laugh now, how UNrefined I played. Now I am sensitive to the tiniest of variations in my sound – its a blessing and a curse! I will sit there and play two notes over and over and over because I’m trying to make the sound consistent between the two. He also turned me into a reed adjust-a-holic. I remember once in one of my early lessons, he asked me if I had thought about the reed I was playing on or if I had just “slapped one on”…me being an honest person said, “I just slapped it on”….WRONG ANSWER! That was one lesson where I considered whether or not I had made the right decision in coming to Eastman. I’d never had a teacher get angry in a lesson! While I never actually cried in a lesson during those early days, there were a couple of moments where I had to REALLY hold the tears back. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? It was a shock, but now I’m grateful for his bluntness. He made me realize that sound and your reed is EVERYTHING in an audition/performance setting. Every clarinet player can play the notes, its the sound that sets them apart! Thanks Mr. G!!

waiting and gigging and no teaching

Quick update: I’m still processing for the Navy…bleh, this is turning out to be a pain in the butt! I was hopefully going to be going to Buffalo to take the ASVAB test and do my physical, but my medical documentation delayed things. I had some surgery back in 2007 and they needed more documentation…oooooof course. And of course my recruiter didn’t tell me this until I showed up to leave on Friday afternoon! Annoying…..especially because I had taken a half day at work. So now I have to do the test and the physical separate because I cannot take any more time off of work.

Luckily they give the ASVAB test at the National Guard here in Rochester, and I was supposed to go on Tuesday…welll that didn’t happen. I needed to be there by 4:45, and I got off work at 4:30. Ya. And of course it was near the airport where there are NO street signs (who’s idea was that?) and I got lost. I didn’t actually find the place until after 5, so I knew they weren’t going to let me in. So that sucked. But luckily they give the test every week, so I can try again next week. And now I know where it is, LOL! And now that all my medical documentation is in, I FOR SURE will be going for my physical on July 10…and if everything goes well I’ll be getting a ship date for boot camp! Yay! I am so ready to get this show on the road…

Oh and I got a playing gig for the summer! Its nonpaid, but I don’t really care, I’m just excited to play with a group again. I need some motivation! Final Fantasy 13 is starting to take hold of my free time, haha! More info to come.

Unfortunately, my entire studio (uhh…two people, but sounds more dramatic this way) quit for the summer. So that is a couple hundred bucks a month that I’m missing out on now. So that means I have to really watch my spending because my total bills every month pretty much equals my total income from the hospital (basically I was earning spending money teaching lessons). So the sooner the Navy comes, the better!

moving fast!

So since I have passed my audition for the Navy, things are moving really fast. Apparently, lots happened over the weekend because I got a call pretty much first thing on Monday from the Navy Music office. They said I will be going for my physical this weekend, and possibly even sign my contract for enlistment as a musician! Holy cow that was fast. And the funny part was the person who called me yesterday morning addressed me as simply “Herrera”. Well I guess I should be getting used to that!!

I hope that everything goes well this weekend and I can sign my enlistment. It will be nice to know when I will be going to boot camp, even though it is going to probably be far off, at least a couple months away. Ideally, I want to get this basic training thing over with, but I would like to have a couple months to one – get physically ready, and two – cut ties with my current employer without making them hate me. I want to give them at least a month or two of notice, but I don’t feel comfortable announcing that I’m leaving until I have an exact date that I will be shipping out. I’m just so excited and nervous now! I can’t believe that it’s actually happening. My feelings are mixed about the whole thing. I’m super duper excited that I’ll be a full time musician again (actually getting paid for it this time!), but at the same time I’m scared to death about the fact that I’ll be enlisting in the military.

In other news, I haven’t really played since the audition. I’m taking a break for a few days, and I’ve been getting things taken care of that I had been neglecting over the last couple weeks. I am starting to feel the itch again though already. I was thinking of focusing on Eb for awhile, since I’ve been really neglecting it for the past few years. Also I was thinking about doing a small recital in CO before I left for the Navy. I’m not sure yet though, I have to be able to afford a plane ticket to CO and also a pianist, unless I can find someone who will do it for free…doubtful. We will see what I decide.

So…that’s it for now. I’ll update more soon!

update…again

Well since its been over two months since I posted anything, I figured I probably should updatefor the few who may read this. Its been a busy couple months, both with non-clarinet related activities and clarinet related ones.

I have been in full force pursuing this Navy opportunity, and my audition is coming up very soon…like this week! I’ve met with the recruiter and gotten the paperwork process started. One thing’s for sure – its going to be a pain! Once I pass my audition (cross your fingers!), I will have to go for a full physical and testing at a facility in Buffalo. Once that is over, hopefully we can get everything cleared and get a date to go to boot camp, which may not be for awhile. But if I can go sooner, the better! I want to get that part over with! The hardest part of this whole thing will be those two months. After boot camp, I will have to go to the Armed Forces Music School in Virginia for 6 months (!) That’s a long time. And especially because I could probably teach a lot of the classes I’ll have to take. I’m not trying to be braggy or conceited, but I do have a Masters degree from Eastman…I’m hoping I can test out…..maybe?? Not sure if that’s a possibility yet. Regardless, I’ll have to go for some length of time. The Masters degree is not all for nothing though – I qualify for the maximum starting pay grade, E-3, which will be nice (much more than I’m making now!). After that – hopefully I will be assigned to the Southwest Navy Band in San Diego! (cross your fingers with that too!!)
So after all is said and done, it may be almost a year before I get out to a band. I’m ok with that, because I will be playing my clarinet and getting paid for it, which is a whole lot better that what I’m doing now. I consider myself lucky to have the good job I have, but I have to remind myself that I don’t want to be a secretary, I want to be a clarinetist!!
I’m going to try to update more often, even if it is only a little bit. Promise!!