Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Staying in Shape

I ask my interviewees about their experiences taking auditions while working multiple jobs and how they managed the intense preparation involved. In particular, Dr. Brian Peterson gave good insight into his audition preparation while working as both a freelance bassoonist and a surgeon. 

In my previous post, I discussed what I do to get back into shape after time away from the oboe. Obviously, one way to avoid this problem is to not get out of shape in the first place! Last year, I accomplished this during a traditionally slow time for gigs by taking four auditions between May and October 2011. So I thought I would share a little bit about how I fit these auditions around working at Curtis and freelancing.
  The auditions were all relatively local; the furthest was in New Haven, CT.  The first was for the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and the audition list contained a lot of music that I had never heard before. Two of the auditions were two days apart in September, but those repertoire lists overlapped a lot. At the last audition, in October, we chose our own repertoire. Naturally, I picked music I had prepared for the auditions the month before.

Oboists may find it interesting that none of these auditions required the Mozart Concerto. Three of the auditions allowed us to choose our own solo. (I picked Strauss.) The Ballet required a transcription of a Bach Harpsichord Concerto that is part of the company's repertoire.

To prepare for the auditions, I worked at Curtis from 9-5, then came home and practiced and made reeds from 6 PM until midnight and all weekend. Occasionally I had to prepare for oboe jobs and couldn't focus on the audition music as much as I wanted. It was a very tiring schedule to follow. I didn’t get any of the jobs; some of the auditions went better than others.

But by the last audition, even though I was exhausted, I was in really good playing shape. That set me up to have a great 2011-12 season, which included milestones such as a chamber recital for several hundred people at the Kimmel Center on New Year's Eve (pictured at left; photo by Jasmine Yarish) and my first-ever review for a recent performance of a very difficult Zelenka Trio Sonata.

To have the opportunity to take four auditions within three hours travel from Philadelphia was wonderful -- and extremely rare. To my knowledge, there haven’t been any local auditions since. That said, had there not been the overlap in repertoire and the option to choose our own repertoire, I would not have taken all four. Two would have been the more likely scenario: PA Ballet in May and then one of others in the fall.

Preparing for an audition can be a great way to keep up your playing during a slow time, especially if you are more productive with a clear goal in mind, like I am. And, of course, if you get the job, all the better! Just be sure to know your limits so you can do your best at the audition while continuing to succeed in what jobs you already have.

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