2019 year in review, decade in review, and what’s coming in 2020

So here we are again at the end of one year and the start of another.  I can’t help looking back at 2019 and reflecting on what I accomplished this year. 2019 was a year of transition for me and my family and trying to adjust to a new home thousands of miles away from where we had spent the last four years proved difficult. I really had a hard time moving from Hawaii. It is such a special place for me and I definitely left a piece of my heart there.

My last sunset in Hawaii. December 21, 2018

Its also 2019, which means we’re about to transition into a new decade. I actually started this blog at the brink of the last decade in 2009, documenting my struggles of trying to “make it” as a clarinetist. Seems like so long ago and also not that long ago all at the same time. I guess that’s what happens when we become adults!

So let’s take a quick look back. Things were so different for me and my family in 2009. Back then, I was still pretty fresh off my masters degree from Eastman, and still living in Rochester in our cute little house in the South Wedge.  I still miss that neighborhood! I had landed a job as a secretary at the University of Rochester Hospital, working 9-5 to make ends meet and trying to practice and take auditions in my off-time.  I was so lucky; I had a very supportive employer who allowed me to take the time off I needed for those auditions!  I was also so young! I was still in my mid-20s and my husband and I were still fairly new at the marriage thing.  No dogs, no kids.  Man, that was the life!  Haha…

And now…I’m in my mid-thirties, a mom to a now four year old boy, and dog mom to three little fluffy chihuahuas. Still married to my husband, who has followed me around on this crazy adventure! So thankful that he’s down for whatever the Navy throws at us. I’m on my third enlistment contract with the Navy, which seems crazy but its true. We started out the decade in Rochester, moved to Virginia after joining the Navy, moved to Hawaii, and now we’re back in Virginia.

And 2019…what a weird year you were.  As mentioned earlier, we were in the process of moving from Hawaii back to Virginia. In fact, exactly one year ago we were technically homeless, but the timing of everything meant we got to spend the holidays at home in Colorado with extended family. That was probably the one positive thing about the whole move.

A year ago I was gearing myself up for the Unit Leader Course at the Naval School of Music, which was starting in January. The course turned out to be one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Eight months of 10-12 hour days, and constantly being forced out of my comfort zone.  But, I also met a bunch of amazing people through that course that I will be lifelong friends with! Now I feel like if I can get through that course, I can get through anything!

My amazing ULC class.
Really out of my comfort zone here.
World’s OK-est drum major.
A beautiful moment with my friend Patrick, and Sailor Ducky.

I was so thankful that I got orders back to the band here in Virginia, and because of that we didn’t have to pick up and move again.  Especially because my son had started a special education pre-school program here in Virginia Beach and he was really doing well, and his teacher is amazing.  We were glad we didn’t have to start over somewhere else!

10 minute walk from my house in Virginia Beach…not bad!

We were fortunate to be able to go back to Colorado in August after my graduation from the course and visit family again.  My grandmother from Brazil was visiting, so it was wonderful to spend time with her and she got to meet *another* one of her great-grandchildren.  I didn’t play clarinet for probably about a month, and when I got back and checked into the band, the Navy Band in DC had posted an audition for November.  Initially, I said no way.  Just over two months till this audition and I hadn’t even touched my horn for a month…it was more work than I initially wanted to put in.  But one of my co-workers convinced me (thanks Nicole! haha) to just go for it.  And I did.  Didn’t work out, but I learned a lot.  The audition ended up being a no-hire, so there should be another one coming fairly soon.  I’m gonna go for it.

Which leads me to my goals for 2020.  I’d like to put clarinet back to the top of the priority list, it was definitely not up there for 2019. I worked super hard for the audition this past November, and I’d like to keep that kind of motivation all year. But I need something to work towards. The D.C. band has not posted anything about the next clarinet audition yet, so I need something to drive me until that happens. I have found that if I don’t have something to work towards, I tend to get complacent and inconsistent with my practicing.  So what can I do to stay motivated?  I think its pretty clear that practice challenges don’t work for me.  If you are a follower of my blog, you know that I attempted to do a 100 day practice challenge, and then a 30 day practice challenge, and they both kind of fizzled.  

Not sure that attempting another challenge will do anything for me. I think I need to accept that I’m not a seven day a week type of practicer, and that’s ok. I think 4-5 days a week works best for me. Practicing efficiently and consistently while leaving room for other things is what works for me. Even when I was prepping for an audition, 6 days a week was a stretch.  I’m set to take over the woodwind quintet at work, and I have a really heavy collateral duty on top of that so I need to accept that sometimes sitting down in a practice room just won’t happen. 

So how about a project of some sort? I turned to thinking about creating content for this blog. Something that has been pretty universal in trying to become a clarinetist (or any classical musician in general) is EXCERPTS.  I feel like I’ve gotten really good at some of these crazy band excerpts.  I can break them down and explain the challenges and the practice techniques that I have found to work to overcome those challenges. It’ll keep me in practice for any upcoming auditions, and I’ll get to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.

So that’s what I’ll do this year. I’m not sure how I’ll pick the excerpts, but I’ll try to do common ones first, and then sprinkle in some wild cards…because we all know how these audition lists work.

All in all, I’m looking forward to great things in 2020!



Mostly ranting…

Of course, when I decide that I want to practice more, that’s when things get busy! I have rehearsal nearly every day for the woodwind quintet that I am in at work because we’re going on the road to South Carolina in a couple weeks to play a concert with the brass quintet.  We are doing a short program of our own and then we’re doing a double quintet piece with the BQ.  In addition, we’ve been starting up wind ensemble rehearsals again and I’ve taken on a new collateral duty at work that’s taking up a lot of time.  I have hardly started thinking about studying for my advancement exam in March!  Phew…trying to find four hours a day to practice is difficult (at least if my husband wants to see me…).  Oh yeah, and I have private students outside of all my Navy stuff to get to also!

Despite the craziness, I’m glad that my day is filling up with music-related things.  I remember a short time ago (reference any of my posts before May 2011) when my days were filled with non-music related things.  Its nice to busy in this way again!

And now…

*start rant*

I am having some difficulties at work…one member of our WWQ is really not pulling her weight musically (and by “not really”, I mean not at all) .  It is frustrating to be sitting in rehearsal and feel like I’m playing music with a middle school student.  Its frustrating that this person has been a Navy musician for a long time and should be an inspiration to the lower ranks, but instead can hardly play her instrument (I’m not even exaggerating…I wish I was).  Its frustrating that nobody seems to be doing anything about it, or nobody CAN do anything about it.  Its insulting to me that I put in so much work into my playing and this person can just come in and shit on everything and not seem to care how horrible it sounds.  And this person gets paid much more than me, which really pisses me off.  I just don’t understand how a person can be considered “professional musician” (because that’s what we are, technically) and not be able to play your instrument at all –  and have that be OK.  I JUST DON’T GET IT.  In the civilian sector, this person would have been fired a long time ago.  Even in the premiere military ensembles, this person would have been required to re-audition or choose a new job in their military branch by now.  I really believe this person needs to re-audition for our program, or at the very least be required to take lessons.  The most crazy part is that if this person was of lower rank, that probably would have happened already.  The fact that this person is higher in rank is giving them some protection, in my opinion, and it is ridiculous.

*end rant*

Resolutions…or something like that?

I’m going to be honest here.  New year resolutions kind of annoy me.  I don’t think we need to wait for a new year to make good changes in our lives, and most people don’t stick to it anyway.  If we want to change, change NOW!  Anyways, with that said…

I have one thing that I want to improve upon in 2013 (holy cow…still can’t believe that)…and that is my practice habits.  I want to practice more, and more consistently.  I’m coming off a two week hiatus of playing, so my goal is to  slowly work up to 20 hours per week.  That’s a heck of a lot more than I was doing before!  If I don’t practice on the weekends, that’s four hours a day!  Right now, I get maybe 10 hours a week on a good week.  I figure if I want my career to be what I want, I really need to put in the time in the practice room.

I think I’m still in that mentality that I was when I worked all day and only had a small window of time to get my practicing done.  The other day I was thinking about the time when I was auditioning for orchestras and bands and competing against people who were probably practicing 4-6 hours per day.  I then thought, there’s absolutely no reason that I can’t do that now!  That’s what I’m paid to do anyway!  I used to do that while in school, so I know I can do it.  I’m going to work at getting back into that mentality the next couple months.

It will be hard, but I know I can make it happen!