Thursday, April 29, 2010

The day after

Four months of work came to a conclusion yesterday. Much like getting ready for a major race, there is a lot of build up and anticipation to auditions. Am I really ready? Can I follow my plan? Will I make my goal? Unlike races, the outcome of an audition is only partly in my hands. It's my job to do the best that I can and make a compelling case for myself. The ultimate decision is out of my hands. The committee has to like what they hear, and want to hear more. I have to prove that I am a good fit for the orchestra that I'm auditioning for. The goal, to make it to the next round of the process (most auditions have at least two rounds), and ultimately to win the audition.

The day got off to a rough start. When I woke up I thought I was feeling better, so I laced up my new running shoes and headed out for a short 4 mile run. When I got back I was still feeling okay, although getting rather cold (we later discovered the heat is not working). Feeling cold would shortly lead to chills and eventually my laying on the couch under a blanket staring at the TV. I didn't want to move. Some Advil would eventually get rid of the chills, which were followed by feeling like I was on fire. It wasn't the way I wanted to feel, but it was what I had. Much like the weather on race day it was out of my hands. I had spent four months getting ready for 10 minutes. I had worked so hard, and gotten so much better. I had battled some of my inner demons, and was starting to feel better about myself as a violinist. Before leaving to teach my two students of the day I was in tears. I felt awful, and I needed that to change fast!

Teaching ended up being the best decision. I relaxed, forgot that I was feeling awful, and just had fun with my students. That plus more Advil, and more food made me feel human again. So, when I got to the audition and was asked if I would be willing to go early I a little reluctantly said yes. Two thoughts came into my head. First, I had just taken more Advil and eaten and wasn't running a risk of the fever coming back at the moment. Later might be a different story. Second, they tend to put all of the better players together in the later group. I might have a better chance of advancing out of the first group.

The audition itself was in the opera's orchestra pit in the hall that they use for performances. While that may sound completely overwhelming I actually really like it. The sound is great, and it makes me feel a little bit more at home than just a random room with a great big black curtain hanging right in front of me (because of the pit I never saw the black curtain, it was too high for my line of sight). This group chose not to hear a solo in the first round. Before this would have thrown. This time I was ready. I focused, thought about my tempo, and ignored the fact that my heart was pounding. The result was the best start I've ever had in an audition. I focused on what I heard right out of the violin, not the sound coming back to me from in the hall (although I did catch a bit and have to say it sounded good!). I knew if I started the second excerpt well then I would be home free once I got going. Again I focused on my tempo, was my bow in the right place, and started. It was great! I was so happy with it. I had expected the next excerpt would be heard in the first round. It was the really big, and the most challenging piece in the excerpts. It started great. A few notes were out of tune, but I fixed them as I went along. I was relaxed enough that I could fix them! They choose not to hear the last excerpt. I was disappointed, but they seemed to be racing through the first group. There were a few bells going off in my head, but I thought I had made a pretty good case for myself. In the end no one from the first group was advanced to the second round.

I called my teacher and told him how it went. I was actually very happy despite the frustration of not being advanced. This group is known in town for holding auditions and not filling positions. It was a good experience that will get me ready for the next audition. I celebrated getting better with a cupcake :-). After everything that had happened yesterday I felt pretty good. Now if the heat would just get fixed I might start feeling even better!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Audition week

and que the freak out :-)

In some ways getting ready for an audition is very much like getting ready for a race. Every ache freaks you out. This weekend I was pretty freaked out. I spent most of it with an ice pack on my left wrist while trying to figure out what was bothering it so much. I didn't think I was squeezing, but then I'm nervous, and slightly stressed out too. This morning I got off to a sore pre-practice warm up of scales and started thinking. My shoulder is sore and stiff too. Why is that happening? And then I looked right under my nose to the back side of my violin, and the answer glared right in front of me. The shoulder rest! It had been uncomfortable for a while. Why? Because it need to be adjusted higher (spring weather means no sweaters or high collared shirts...). I felt the difference right away. My wrist is still sore, but everything feels better and more relaxed when I'm playing. I just need to be careful until Wednesday night when the real nerves kick in.

And of course I have another cold. Taking lots of vitamin C, taking some time off of running :(, and getting some extra sleep (I went to bed at 9:30 last night). Just as long as I can run the Big Peach 5k on Saturday. Oh, and do well on my audition :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The next chapter

Have you noticed something new on the blog? Maybe on the right hand side? Go down a little. Maybe a little more. There it is! Look a Team in Training box :-). Believe it or not training for the Chicago Marathon is just a couple of weeks away! In part because of my family's history with cancer, and because I just love to run I'm back for another season with Team in Training mentoring for Chicago. I couldn't be more excited! But I need your help. Please consider making a donation towards the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as I train to help find a cure for a cancer. No donation is too small, and all are greatly appreciated! To see my full site you can go to:


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Oh my goodness, what a crazy weekend that was!! So, crazy that I've had trouble getting the blog to cooperate too. oh the craziness ;-). It was a long weekend filled with lots of rehearsals, and lots of pollen. In fact I was having all kinds of allergy problems with one of the rehearsal spaces too. Not really what I needed since I was going to have to spend a large amount of time out in the pollen anyway. I survived though, and despite some slip ups in Beethoven's 9th Symphony (we played Symphony 1 & 9) it was a lot of fun. It's been a while since I've had a freelance job. I had forgotten how much playing with orchestras was. So much fun!!!! Here are a few pictures from the weekend :-)

a view from the hotel patio onto Bay street

cause even a violin needs a good chair to rest on :-)

my favorite lunch spot!

they had a Susan B. Komen 5k Saturday morning (I had to jump in &
out of it as I ran Saturday morning)

like a good part scottish girl I found the Presbyterian church ;)

couldn't help this one

I always go out dressed like Scarlet O'hara. Don't you? ;-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm freelancing in Savannah this weekend!

I will admit that I was not so excited about my gig yesterday as I am today. Yesterday morning was filled with lots of frustration. For three weeks I waited for an e-mail response that never came. I didn't know where I was staying. I finally gave up on the e-mail even after sending another (it was finally answered late yesterday afternoon) and started looking for a place to stay in Savannah. All of the group rooms were gone. Strike one. The closest place I could stay and not spend my entire paycheck was the airport, which is at least 25 minutes away from the rehearsal space. Strike two. The room I found was still $100. Strike three. I booked it anyway, partially out of fear that I wouldn't be able to find anything else at a lower price that wasn't "questionable." At first I wasn't really happy, but then I started thinking about it and things didn't seem that bad. I kept looking though. Maybe, just maybe I would find something better. Then a couple of my twitter friends suggested looking on All of the sudden the heavens opened up, a ray a sunshine beamed down, and the angels started singing. Okay not really :), but one of the choices from my search was a 4 star hotel in historic Savannah for only $4 a night more than what my room by the airport was going to be. Major score!!! I'm so excited!! I haven't spent a weekend in Savannah in who knows how long. I drive through most summers on the way to the beach house my parent's rent, but I just cruise through without stopping. I keep reminding myself that this is a work trip. I have 4 rehearsals and a concert:
  • rehearsal Thursday 11:00am - 1:30
  • rehearsal Thursday 7:30 - 10:00pm
  • rehearsal Friday 12:30 - 3:30
  • rehearsal Friday 7:00 - 9:00
  • concert Saturday 8:00 - 10:30
Is it just me or are a lot of these schedule during prime eating times? :) I have a couple of goals for myself:
  1. play my best
  2. relax
  3. enjoy local food spots (avoid Starbucks :p)
  4. go for a run & enjoy the local gardens
Since I have a room to myself I can also practice during breaks because the audition is getting closer and closer. Good news is that things for the audition are going really well now (I guess I just needed to hit the bottom). I need to keep the momentum going! But, I'm still going to enjoy myself some too :)

Have any restaurant or running suggestions for Savannah? I would love to hear them!

Friday, April 9, 2010

violin & running not so different

Sometimes it's funny to think about how different two things can be only to discover they really aren't that different. It blows my mind sometimes how similar running and playing the violin can be.
  • running has the whole barefoot vs. shod (shoes) debate. In violin we have the great bow hold debate, french vs. german (I'm a french girl)
  • long and slow are the name of the with weekly long run. Slow is the best way to learn things in music
  • want to get faster, add a speed workout to your weekly run schedule. want to play faster. better crack out that metronome and start doing some faster practicing in that music
  • breathing right is really helpful
  • strength training helps you keep your form for longer
  • focusing on form and technique can make you more efficient
  • proper nutritution and hydration are important 
  • the weeks prior to a race/audition can make you go through every emotion possible (and then some)
A few differences:
  • in running you taper your miles before a race so your legs can rest (affectionately know as the taperworm or taper monster). It can bring out our more colorful personality traits. There is no such thing as tapering for auditions or concerts. If anything, there is cramming...
  • you can run in just about any kind of weather within reason. violins don't like being outside and react, sometimes violently, to weather changes (I've had pegs shoot across rooms before)
  • you can fix things as you go during a marathon. auditions and concerts are like the 100 yard dash. you only get one shot to be perfect
I've got just under 3 weeks till my audition. Last week I was in tears while working on my excerpts. This week I find them oddly relaxing. Go figure. The good news, every excerpt I played today was perfect on the first run through. That's a huge step forward. You only get one shot on audition day.
Oh, and look what jumped into my violin case :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In search of peace

My violin lessons haven't been going well lately, or at least that's my perception. Of the last four lessons I've had I've cried through two of them. Sometimes I've even gotten defensive, but mostly I'm not enjoying myself. What's going on? I have an audition April 28th that I've been working on since December. No matter how hard I've worked nothing seems to be good enough. As I was leaving my lesson last week my teacher said things were getting better. Thanks, could you mention that before my self-esteem completely tanked? In between sobs on Monday I told him I felt like I wasn't any good (he told me that wasn't true). I'm hard on myself. I have been trained to seek perfection at all times. There is just one problem, perfection as a human is next to impossible. We are imperfect beings. Admittedly my teacher said that his criticism probably isn't helping, but I needed to get my head out of the dark place it's settled. I don't like picking my violin up at the moment. I would rather do almost anything than practice. On Sunday I spent part of the afternoon running around the front yard barefoot while playing fetch with one of the dogs. It was so freeing. All the weight came of my shoulders and I felt like I was a little kid again. It was something I desperately needed.

So, my teacher gave me something to work on. Clearly I am only seeing the negative in my playing. Not so helpful. So, instead I am suppose to make a list of things that I like or do well, and then list what I need to work on.

When my teacher asked what would make me happy I said running barefoot outside. He told me to find that same feeling while I'm playing. We'll find out how that went tonight, because lucky me I get to have two lessons this week...