Thursday, September 07, 2017

Gone Pro

I won the Navy bassoon audition!!!

I'm so excited to have a performing job that will pay me a decent salary, even if I have to go through bootcamp to do it. (yes I still have to do bootcamp, bummers) I'll be with a fleet band, no idea where I'll get stationed yet but it could be 1 of 9 locations. I'm voting for warmer weather...

This of course means I won't be attending grad school after all. I'm sad to be giving up my dream but excited to be making a decent living and going on this exciting new adventure to unknown places!!!

Now let's talk about the audition process.

Making a tape for the air force band taught me a lot about how I practice and showed me exactly what I sound like. The sheer level of honesty I had to have with myself was difficult initially but got easier and caused my overall level of playing to increase significantly.
By becoming very picky with myself over the span of 2 weeks, I was able to make huge leaps and bounds without spending a ton of time practicing. I probably spent 2 hours a day with most of it spent recording myself and listening, so realistically I only had the bassoon in my hands for 45-60 minutes a day. I did not do this for 2 hours straight, I would break it up into chunks. Luckily for me my schedule permits that style of practice, it wouldn't work for everyone.

  • My practice sessions started with 5 minutes of long tones, I set a timer and turned off all electrical distractions and didn't stop playing long tones (in all registers) until it went off. 
  • Then I started recording.
    Record - Listen - Delete - Repeat
  • When I got a good one I saved it by writing down its number and proceeded to continue recording it until I had reached 30 minutes of recording (at least.)

This means that I would only get to 4 excerpts (or less) a day. Sometimes I would get an acceptable take, sometimes I wouldn't. I made an effort to forgive myself for the latter and exercise patience.

The way I critiqued and isolated what I didn't like in my recordings was based upon two factors: Pitch and Rhythm.
I would often practice with the metronome in my headphones and my tuner in front of me. This gave me instant feedback during practice performances (I treated each recording like a performance) and also helped in the focusing of my goals. Ultimately you cannot have a metronome and tuner on you while actually performing so it's important to truly internalize the precision required to execute the excerpt flawlessly.

I also used a Legere plastic reed for both the Air Force audition and the Navy audition, which was another game changer. While I loved using that reed (which is no longer fully functional sadly) I will say that bias against plastic reeds is still VERY strong. I mentioned using a plastic reed in the Air Force audition but did not for the Navy audition. I won the Navy audition. 'Nuff said? Obviously there's more to that story but you'll have to talk to me in person to hear it. lol

If you got through all of that, congrats and thanks for reading! I hope it was helpful. Remember to subscribe to my blog to hear more candid first person experiences from a bassoonist in todays musical climate.
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