Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Sunday I'll be going to my Midwest Young Artists concert. I'm very excited about it. In the concert my orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra will be playing March to the Scaffold by Berlioz and The Prometheus Overture by Beethoven. My orchestra will be performing at Pick-Staiger at Northwestern. It's too bad that I'm not playing first part or the solo but I'll still have a great time. I can't wait!

Here's a link to the concert page.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Third Chair Disaster

I just found out on Saturday that I made third chair in my MYA seating audition.  When I looked at the chair seatings, I found the clarinet section, and I looked for my name. It was the third name on the list. I felt sick to my stomach. I cared a lot about this seating audition. I practiced a lot for it. In the month leading up to the audition, I had practiced the selections for hours and hours. The day before the seating audition, I had practiced the audition selections for 3 hours total!

There are 4 chairs in the clarinet section in the Philharmonia Orchestra.  So that makes me second to last, and I have the 2nd part.  The 2nd part is so much easier and less interesting than the 1st part.  I have a 27 measure rest in The Prometheus Overture!

When you try really hard for something, and you don't succeed, it feels terrible.  You feel like you aren't very smart and you're not very good at what you are doing.  It crushes your confidence. 

After I found out my audition placement, I was really upset for around 15 minutes, but then I said to myself:  even though I'm third chair, I can still get the solo when we have an audition for that, because there is a short clarinet solo in March to the Scaffold.  I had also worked hard to learn how to play the solo well.

But then there was another disaster!  When we were rehearsing March to the Scaffold with Mr. Pearson, and we got to the solo part, all of the clarinets played it.  Then Mr. Pearson said that the solo was supposed to be played only by the first chair clarinet.  But it wasn't even a part of the seating audition!

Before the chair seating results, I was feeling great about practicing everyday.  I practiced a lot, and I practiced eagerly.  But after getting third chair, I didn't really want to practice at all.  I didn't practice on Saturday, and I only got to practicing on Sunday at 10:00 at night.

I found this web page that helped me think about the situation in a different way.

The article talks about 3 different ways to deal with failing at something you have worked hard for.

1.  Some people give up, blame other people, and blame circumstances for failing.  Don't do this.

2.  Some people keep doing the same thing over and over again with more determination without changing their strategy.  You can do this, but I wouldn't advise it.

3.  Some people change their strategy and try again.  If they fail again, they change their strategy again and try again.  They do this until they succeed.  This is the best idea.

Today and last night I changed my strategy and tried again.  I assumed that the problem with my practicing wasn't that I didn't practice enough, but that I didn't practice deliberately enough.  So last night and today, I practiced my scales and my technical exercises for a long time very very carefully.  I payed attention to my tone and the connections between the notes.  When I played some solos for fun after this type of practice, I played them better than I usually do.  Maybe this strategy will work and I won't make 3rd chair again. 

Maybe it won't.  If it doesn't, I'll change my strategy and try again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Synergy Brass Quintet

Last night I went to see the Synergy Brass Quintet at MYA. It was a fun experience. Before the performance, I saw three of my friends there. I was expecting to see Nathan. Nathan is a horn player in my MYA orchestra. He's a pretty cool guy. He's a lot like me, I think. He's really good at playing his horn, he practices a lot, and he likes the same kind of music I like: classical. I was surprised and happy to see Micah there. He plays on my soccer team, and he doesn't play at MYA so I wasn't expecting him there. I was also surprised to see Matthew, a trumpet player from my school band. Matthew and Micah don't play at MYA, but they were there for similar reasons. Micah's brother and Matthew's nephew wanted to see the quintet, and so Micah and Matthew came along with their family.

Here's a youtube video of Synergy Brass Quintet.

The quintet was really good. They played mostly classical pieces for the first half, and for the second half, they played mostly contemporary music. The first half of the performance was my favorite part by far. The quintet played some fun classical pieces. They played In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg, a Norwegian composer. I like Grieg because I'm part Norwegian. They played a Mozart horn concerto, which was really good. The tuba player played an extremely hard violin concerto, which was really funny, because the violin concerto moves very fast, and it is much harder to play fast on tuba than it is on a violin. It was amazing that the tuba player could do it. The trombone player played Flight of the Bumblebee, which was funny, because you don't usually think about the trombone playing it.

I loved the first half of the performance, but I didn't like the second half as much. The pieces they played were more contemporary, and I don't like contemporary pieces as much. They also had movies playing during some of the pieces in the second half, but I found that kind of distracting, because I really wanted to just listen to the music. Still, even though I didn't like that type of music as much, they still played really well. For the last song they asked whether the audience wanted a jazz or a classical piece to end their performance. Nathan, my sister, and I were shouting that we wanted a classical piece, but they played a jazz piece instead, because that's what most everyone else wanted. The jazz piece was so loud that it kind of hurt my hears. I'm not much of a jazz fan. But other than that it was a fantastic performance.

In between songs, and during the intermission, Nathan and I talked about the music, how it was played, how we liked it, and about our own music. Watching a performance with a friend was so much more fun and enjoyable than watching it with my mom or by myself, because discussing the performance was as much fun as watching it.

After the quintet finished, we stayed for a bit. First my sister Eowyn went to get all of the players autographs. She especially wanted the Horn player's autograph because she plays the French Horn. They whole band was really nice about autographs and talking about their music, and they even let me take a picture of my sister and the horn player. I also met Nathan's dad and his sister who plays the flute.

All and all it was a great performance and I had a great time.