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!

My directorial debut????

First off, Happy Thanks giving!  Ben and I were lucky enough to spend time with our friend Andy and his family for the holiday in Syracuse.  It was really great!  And I had my first garbage plate ever on Wednesday night.  I guess I couldn’t leave Rochester without having one!  Anyway….

For the past week I’ve been working on creating a video for

the Youtube symphony auditions.  If I get chosen, I get a free trip to Australia to play with the 96 other people who get chosen at the Sydney Opera House.  Freakin sweet!  And the audition excerpts aren’t too crazy, only three excerpts plus Mozart.  Here is my final video that I submitted:

I am fairly happy with it.  I would like to mention that I am thinking the scherzo in two, not three (see my last blog entry) and it seems to help A

LOT!  I am pretty nervous about the Capriccio excerpt (the first one after the Mozart) because I’m rushing a little (ok – a lot!), but according to Ben it had the best energy.  I’m taking a risk by choosing style over technique.  We’ll see if it pays off.

Making the video was pretty labor intensive – I used my digital camera plus my minidisc.  During several test recordings that I did a couple weeks ago, I found out how crappy the sound is on my camera.  So I recorded both video and sound separately using the above mentioned equipment and then merged them together using Windows Movie Maker.  It took some time to get it lined up just right, but I think the end result was worth it! Lets just say, the “microphone” that is on my camera really doesn’t like the upper register!  So I did that first with all the raw footage,

adjusted the sound settings so that all you could hear was my minidisc recording, saved the movie file (which takes forever!!!  Stupid slow computer) and then cut and pasted the takes from there.  I made four separate (and very organized!) videos of each piece, and then I sat down and critically watched (more listened, actually) all of them.  Here’s an example (its my Beethoven takes – its the shortest one, I think you’ll agree that I got it on the third take!)

In other news, yesterday was my birthday!  I had a really wonderful day.  Started out with a 4.75 mile run, which was meant to be a 4 mile run, but
I ended up getting lost in the cemetery – lets not even go there with the jokes of getting lost in a cemetery on my birthday, haha.  I actually like
running through the cemetery here because there is lots of hills, and its actually quite peaceful and beautiful, despite all the dead people.  There are grave markers of people who died in the early 19th century!  Totally awesome.  Anywho…I then taught a lesson, and she actually practiced so it was a great and fun lesson.  After that Ben and I went to lunch at Aja
Noodle (which is our new favorite place to eat!) and then went window shopping at Eastview Mall.  The mall closed at 6 (WTF…no holiday hours???) so we came back home and hung out at home for a bit, I skyped with my mom and dad.  Then we went to Plum Garden for dinner – all I can say is SUSHI OVERLOAD.  It was so good though:
Happy birthday to me!

I was so full, I could barely move.  After dinner, we went to the cheapy theater and saw Despicable Me.  Cute movie!!  I enjoyed it very much.  After the movie, we came back home and we had birthday “cake” that Ben made, which was fruit pizza, it was sooooo good!  Way better than a regular cake 🙂

Here are the gifts that Ben got me, a new super fancy running jacket, and a skull shaped bottle of vodka with matching skull glasses.  I wanted it more for the bottle than the vodka, I’ve been eyeing it for awhile, since we go to the liquor store often because of Ben’s obsession with whisky.
Anyway, it was a pretty successful birthday!  And I still can’t believe I’m 28.  That means I’ve been an official adult for a decade and that means in two years I’ll be 30!  Eeeeeek!  Looking back, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my ten years of adult life, but I’ve learned just as much!  I’ve also had plenty of successes and good times too.  At 18, I would have never thought I would be where I am right now, especially with the whole Navy thing!  Even two years ago, joining the military was crazy to me.  But I still think I will be happy with my decision to join, I think it is exactly what I was looking for.
Now I’m going to enjoy my extra day off!  Time for Christmas decorations!  And then back to the grind tomorrow…