Anyway, this list was quite normal and expected, for the most part. I was working hard on the list, and also working hard with billions of gigs (or so it seemed). I was in serious bass mode, like, hardcore, and pumped for the audition.
So, my pal and I set off for the audition. It was a loooooong drive. I'm not going to say how long, as I'm not going to name the orchestra, but I'll say this: the distance was further than they were willing to pay gas mileage for. (I decided to take it anyway though, because reasons). We left in the early afternoon, and our auditions were not until the mid-evening. So, off we trek.
We get there, and all is well from what I can tell. There aren't enough practice rooms for everyone individually, so we make our way to the makeshift green room. I hate those places, don't you? I walk in there, and always feel out of place. I completely forget the fact that I'm a good bassist, that I went to a great school and studied with the greatest bass geniuses, and that I play and teach bass for a living, and I start thinking "What am I doing here?". I feel like I'm in a weird nightmare that I occasionally have, where I tell a personnel manager that I play the trombone, and I sit next to my trombone pal Brad, and try to play, BUT I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING. That's what it's like when I go in to those green rooms, when everyone else and their mother has their bass out, rocking their Mozart 35. And then I look at their basses (old, expensive looking, with attractive gated C extensions). Then I look at mine, and feel inadequate. (but if they only knew about the bow I have---oh man, it's AMAZING. Anyway). And then I kinda clam up, and am reluctant to play in front of anyone, in case I sound like a beginner, because in my mind, I am one. I foolishly think that I don't belong there, and that is such a load of hooey. I swear I'm the only there thinking that, because young hot shot in the corner is playing Mozart 35 in such a way that his bow is catching fire. Veteran audition taker on the other side of the room is blowing up his Beethoven 5 (in the good kind of way), and many people are playing like they just do not care who is in the room. They are just hammering away at stuff. I'm feeling small, uneasy, and weird. I'm listening to everyone thinking "Wow, they are so good!" and I'd hate to play and have them think "Wow, she is so bad!" It's so foolish of me, because I actually sound good. Am I ready for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? No. But I'm no slouch. But anyway....time goes on, and my audition will happen in about an hour and a half, and to prepare, in addition to practicing and warming up, I take a beta blocker.
Time passes, and I get a room to myself to warm up in. I notice a large group of people leaving, with their basses, and found out it was the first group of bassists, who were all dismissed, and none were asked to the finals. I think normally this would have scared me a bit, especially since I listened to a few of those people warming up, and they blew my socks off. But, I had the combo of feeling confident in my playing (despite my green room issues) and I had a beta blocker doing it's job. I felt AMAZING. I sounded good, I looked good, and I was ready to drop bass bombs all up in that place. I felt bad for those leaving, because I understand that feeling, but was then like "Oh well! Imma go win this audition now that they are gone! Peace out, suckaz!"
So, I warm up, and run through my pieces, and I'm proud of how I sound. I'm so proud of the work I've been putting in. I'm pleased with myself, but not overly pleased. I know I have a mountain ahead of me, and am just trying to mentally gear up for it.
It's my time! Time to go jam, and bust a move on some licks. The door to the audition room opens, and I start to walk in. I notice, that even though it's a blind audition, there's no carpet on the floor, and the floor is the kind that makes noise if you are wearing clickety-clackety shoes, like females are wont to do. I wore boots, so I didn't make noise, but I was momentarily concerned for my friend, who wore flats that made noise.
The lack of carpet also worried me, because I worried about my endpin sticking. It sticks on wood, and carpet, but this kind of floor, it doesn't. I did bring a rockstop with me, even though I haven't used one in......I have no idea how many years. They had provided one as well. So, I decide to use theirs. After messing around a bit, it won't stay. I pick it up, spit on it (so attractive!), but it still doesn't stay. The proctor is watching all of this, and probably thinks I'm disgusting, but I don't really care. I try my rockstop. It slips at first, but then stays. I'm hesitant though; I have, to quote Han Solo, "a bad feeling about this". But, I go ahead anyway.
So, I begin jamming away on my solo; a piece I've been playing for quite a while, and clearly know well. So, I'm one line in, and SLIP goes the rockstop. I adjust to this as best I can. It's not a massive slip, but it does force me to adjust things. I keep playing. Then, not long after that, it slips down a little lower.
Now, I should have stopped playing at this point, brought the proctor over, explained the situation (although they could clearly see what was happening), and had them put their foot at my end pin. That would NOT have been unreasonable a request, especially since they did not provide carpet. Carpet SHOULD have been provided as it was a blind audition---they make it impossible to distinguish dudes versus chicks, based on shoes. But, also, it helps for stuff like rockstops failing.
Anyway, so on I go, and things are suffering. I'm somehow still playing (I figured I should continue playing, instead of stopping to adjust) and it's actually not that bad at all. I've scooted to the very edge of my stool, and am doing my best, which is quite good, all things considered. Then a third slip happens, and at this point, I start to have a small sliver of panic. These beta blockers were working, I swear. I felt no real worries until the third slip. Anyway, after this third slip, I get REALLY concerned, and as a result, I invert a fingering and make up a new bowing, and kinda short circuit. I then stop playing for about a quarter of a second, composed myself, and then kept going. I made it through. It was not a complete loss. I didn't sound like a 5th grader. Was it perfect? No, thanks to my rock stop, it wasn't, but I salvaged it bloody well. So, after playing, I started to move my music out of the way for my excerpts, and I heard a voice say,
Thank you, that'll be all.
They weren't going to let me play my excerpts. I actually LAUGHED. Not out loud, but the kind where you start to laugh, but shut your mouth, and have a little inner laugh. I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of everything, grabbed my music, and got out of that room.
I barely felt a thing, probably due to Mr. Beta Blocker. I wasn't too upset; I think I might have been in shock. Saying I barely felt a thing is slightly misleading; I was feeling intense, but I just wasn't going overboard at all. I went back to my room, and chatted with my pal. They didn't get past their first excerpt, which amazed me. I heard more stories of that from a few others. This was a stark contrast to people from the first group, all (at least all who I spoke with) who had played all of their excerpts. So, I think to myself, "is the second group of people just really bad? Or is the committee getting lazy? Perhaps they want to get home and have dinner?" It just seemed fishy to me, to hear of many people who played all their excerpts in their entirety, and then many of us were getting cut off. But perhaps I was just being overly suspicious. I dunno.
Later on, the finalists were announced. There was actually more than one spot open. Normally, for finals, if there's one spot open, there are two or three finalists. But for these finals, there were strangely the exact same amount of finalists as spots that were open. I didn't quite get it. I was confused, but was still in such a bizarre fog over my own situation, that I didn't ask questions.
While my pal chatted with one of their pals, I got to thinking even more. I was annoyed about the weird finalists thing. I was annoyed that it was a blind audition, yet there was no carpet. I was annoyed that no females advanced to the finals, and we made up a significant portion of those auditioning. I was annoyed that no one from the first group advanced, and there were some STELLAR people in that group. I was annoyed to hear that so many people were cut off during their playing. I was annoyed that I didn't even get to play my excerpts. I was annoyed that my rock stop slipped, and that I didn't do more to fix the situation when it happened.
What annoyed me most though, was that this regional orchestra didn't let me play a single excerpt. Now, I might be sounding like a spoiled, entitled little brat. I realize that. But hear me out. This was a REGIONAL orchestra. This was not an ICSOM orchestra. Sure, audition committees can pretty much do whatever they want, but let's think about it for a second....it's a regional orchestra. Not the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. You aren't going to get the same kind of perfection from the average regional orchestra audition taker. People who take regional orchestra auditions are often in college, and it's their first ever audition. They are often freelancers who teach and play, and don't get to devote every waking moment to practicing. There's all sorts of situations and whatnot. And, in general, the playing isn't the same as the playing at an audition for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, ya know? So, with that in mind.....why wouldn't they listen to my excerpts? My solo was not a complete loss, by any means. I clearly know the work. Part of me thinks they HAD to have know something was up with me, and that something was wrong. Sure, if they were the LA Phil, I'd understand if they cut me off and were like "thanks, but no thanks", but this was a regional orchestra.
Quick note: I'm not saying regional orchestras shouldn't have standards. And I'm certainly not trashing regional orchestras---for goodness sake, I play in several regional orchestras, and am bloody well happy to do so. I love playing with the orchestras that I do.
But do you get what I mean? This orchestra seriously wouldn't even listen to a fraction of an excerpt? I'm STILL shaking my head over this, and it was a while back.
Back when I took an audition in August, I learned about four billion things, about mental preparation, nerves, and all sorts of goodies. I came home with a compendium of audition info and knowledge, and for that, I'll always be grateful. I'm so glad that audition went the way it did, actually. I NEEDED to learn those things. But this audition was different. I learned a couple things:
1. Bring the kind of rockstop that attaches to your stool.
2. Don't be afraid to speak to the proctor if/when something goes whack.
These are fine lessons to learn. I just wish I had learned them after playing all my excerpts, ya know? Sigh.
This was by no means my last audition. If anything, I'm hungrier than ever to take them, and there are a few on the horizon that I have my eyes on. I'll be sure to bring a new rockstop with me when I go.