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 All-Area Results
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-01-15 12:18

After three years of playing, I went to my first TMEA All-State auditions (Area D) and raked 11th when they took the top 8 to state. I wasn't expecting to get that high of placement considering the huge amount of talent in that room, but now that the time to be proud of my growth has come, I can only feel regret for all of those days that I didn't practice as wisely as I could've. Heck, I didn't even perform at my best. In the first etude, I stopped in the middle of the phrase because my mouthpiece cap was blocking the music. Not only that, but because of my lack of mental poise, I took it faster than I was entirely comfortable with (pressure, maybe?)

Is this sense of regret reasonable? Will I be prepared for music college if I keep it going at this rate? I never thought that I would place so high out of the 51 there, but I know that I could've done better. My only goal was to play my etudes the best I could, but I did horrid on the one I spent the most time on.

Sorry, I'm just a whirlwind of thoughts.

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: All-Area Results
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-15 18:06

jonathan.wallaceadams wrote:

> but now
> that the time to be proud of my growth has come, I can only
> feel regret for all of those days that I didn't practice as
> wisely as I could've. Heck, I didn't even perform at my best.
>
> Is this sense of regret reasonable? ...My only goal was to play my etudes the
> best I could, but I did horrid on the one I spent the most time
> on.

Your sense of regret over lost or inefficient practice time is not IMO especially reasonable. As, I assume, an American high school student, you have a lot of pressure from many direction competing for your time and attention. If you think you could reasonably increase your practice time without neglecting the rest of your obligations, go for it, but there are only 24 hours in a day and you need to eat and sleep through some of them and still take care of school work and obligations. You seem to have done well in three years and it doesn't seem as if you have reason for regret.

It's very typical (repeat "very" by a power or two of 10) for students at those auditions to feel very nervous, and nerves can play havoc with your performance. Overlearning tends to be something of a ritual for students preparing for them, but in my experience, students don't take enough into account that they *will* be nervous and that they *will* want to rush. One antidote is to practice deliberately slower than you expect to play in the audition so that, at the very least, you have good, accurate muscle memory of the *details* of the more difficult passages. Not so slow that the music loses its character, but slow enough that you can feel every note and every rhythm. The worst way to prepare for an audition or a performance of any kind is to play everything you're preparing up to full tempo, in the process letting sloppiness go and not correcting or cleaning details. Many times my students in lessons play too fast and, when I slow them down, turn out not to have had any idea what notes were really in the run or arpeggio they've just slopped through or what the rhythm really was that they raced over while completely losing the metric pulse.

Practice slowly enough to really read and execute what's on the page. Not half tempo, not even necessarily 75% of full tempo. It may only take playing a few clicks slower on the metronome, but it needs to be slow enough to read and play every note in its correct rhythmic/metric place.

If you do this conscientiously and not just at lessons to please your teacher, you will have a clear mental image of how troublesome passages feel, what they actually consist of, and you will have a model in your mind of what it feels like *not* to rush. It's much easier to emulate that self-formed model under pressure than it is to hope simply to will yourself to relax when the time comes.

Karl

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