I have a huge audition coming up for a full-time position at the Oregon Symphony. The audition will bring over 100 very capable cellists from all over the country to audition. We will all play behind a screen for the prelims and semifinals. I don’t get any bonus points for having played with them for the past season. Only in the finals will the committee and music director be able to see who we are.
I’ve written a great deal about how inspiration changes everything, but will it help precision in intonation, precision in rhythm, consistency of vibrato and sound?
“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” (Johannes Brahms)
I can’t expect my process to carry me through without any woodshedding, so this past month has been a huge investment into fine-tuning my playing (I think my wife can now sing all the Don Juan excerpts).
How will I measure if my process has done me any good?
Even if I don’t make it past the prelims, I know this much:
1. I brought my playing to a high level very quickly.
Using the Hush to enter into a dynamic state of stillness has helped me remove the road blocks of tension which slow progress and limit my technical facility.
2. I experienced and understood specific stylistic differences.
By using the Heart to deepen my intuitive perception, I have been able to tap into the style of each piece from the inside out, rather then relying only on intellectual understanding. How Mozart differs from Mendelssohn and Brahms from Mahler can best be described in feeling first rather than bow strokes, vibrato, and articulations.
3. I was able to make mistakes and not waste time beating myself up.
By using the Lift to engage my positive energy, I was able to practice with more freedom which always leads to a deeper level of learning. You learn best when you are relaxed and willing to take chances and make mistakes. It is way easier to refine than it is to loosen tension, and a lot more enjoyable.
4. I am able to respond rather than react to the competition.
I am able to use the Flow to enter the Concert Hall next weekend without my heart going supersonic. I can’t expect to be able to block out the fantastic playing I will hear coming from other dressing rooms, but I can choose how to respond and keep centered in myself. I can find my own genuine flow and voice, instead of trying to be what the committee is looking for.
5. I have the advantage of walking out a happy man, no matter what happens.
I am treating this audition with a sense of sacredness. Why? Because this process gives me the great advantage of a solid Self-esteem that no outcome can touch. I have found a fulfillment through this process that makes my life complete no matter where I find myself: performing onstage, teaching children, conducting a choir, leading workshops or writing these blogs.
Coming up in two weeks: the result!