Do I get an opinion too?

I’ve been practicing more (violin) than usual lately.  I wasn’t going to tell you why, because it’s one of those things that most musicians don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly.  But who cares.  I’m taking the St Louis Symphony audition next month.  I’ve taken lots of orchestra auditions in my life, and this is another one.  It just happens to be down the street.  There you go.

The other day I was playing the opening of the Brahms Violin Concerto and it just felt better than it used to.  I felt STRONG and I felt as if I was playing exactly what I wanted to and was more engaged and focused than I remembered being in the past.  I thought, huh, maybe lifting weights has helped me get stronger, especially from my back and shoulders.  I feel like I’m playing really well, possibly better than ever.  And then I thought, I guess I’ll see if that’s true at the audition in February.

In other words: my thought was that the only opinion on my violin playing that mattered was the opinion of some committee for about five minutes on a random day (click here to read a previous blog post about “orchestra auditions“).  It hit me how awful that is.  I should be able to have a valid opinion of my own playing.  It shouldn’t be based on the last audition I lost or a negative comment I received.  It probably shouldn’t be based on a positive comment someone gave me either.  I mean, I’m 34 years old, I teach people to play the violin, I have very strong opinions on THEIR playing.  I should be able to have an opinion on my own.

It’s not that I never think, oh that sounded good.  But when I think that, I usually try to squash that feeling.  I don’t want to get a big head, or overconfident, or heaven forbid, feel good about my violin playing, right? πŸ˜‰  That’s not what we were taught in conservatory!

Okay, so here’s where I honestly think I stand, right now.  I feel like I’m playing really well.  I feel strong, my shoulder feels good, my wrists feel good (those are injury prone areas for me) and I feel like I’m doing a great job making the violin do what I want (I have specific things but I’m not going to get TOO technical!).  So all that should count for something, right?  My opinion should matter. 

And I should be able to say, I’m taking the St Louis Symphony Audition in February, and I’ve been working on the list and will continue to do so for the next month.  So what if you know that?  You’re not going to stop reading my blog if I lose, are you?  I don’t think I have any friends who will stop being my friend if I lose, either, so who cares?

Yet I’m still really nervous about publishing this post.  I mean, I’ll care if I lose.  But that’s regardless of whether I blog about it, right?

12 thoughts on “Do I get an opinion too?”

  1. All I have to say is Good Luck and I’m proud of you for putting yourself out there! As long as it doesn’t interfere with your blogging.

  2. First of all, you rock! But here’s a thought from an amateur. You keep talking about “losing”. Just because you don’t “win” an audition doesn’t mean you “lost”. It’s yet another experience that challenges you to be a better player. I mean look at how you’re practicing now? Never let an audition committee take that away from you! My two cents.
    Steve Wamsley recently posted…October: A Pops Concert, Two Races, and Three WeddingsMy Profile

    1. Except the goal of the audition is to get a job playing in orchestra, no? So if you don’t end up with said job, then you have lost. I appreciate your comment though!

      1. Hannah, your comment reminds me of the section on “going pro” in “The War of Art”. Pros are realistic, have a sense of humor about their work, and don’t take failure as a game-changer. Best of luck! And if you don’t win, oh well, there’s always next time!

  3. Hi Hannah,

    Win or lose, I might *start* reading your blog. This was a great post! πŸ™‚

    My comment is, I’m surprised and interested by your observation that musicians don’t like to share when they’re taking auditions. In my musical circle everyone is taking auditions pretty much all the time. It’s a perennial topic of conversation; we’re always complaining about this orchestra’s list, or comparing fingerings for that excerpt.

    I’m also taking the SLSO audition, and I had a similar thought-moment to yours while I was driving around last week. I realized that I spend an awful lot of time obsessing over particular excerpts, or bowings, or fingerings, or shifts, or whatever – little details to try and avoid annoying the committee – when maybe I ought to be concentrating on just being good enough to *do the job.*

    If, through the powers of magic, I woke up tomorrow with a spot in the SLSO, I think that I would not feel equal to my colleagues. I grew up in awe of the demigodly powers of the SLSO first violins. I think that before I can win an audition with a major orchestra maybe I need to feel confident that I have equaled or surpassed their abilities; and deep down I don’t yet believe that my sound would be a worthy contribution to theres.


    1. Best of luck to you too, then! And not all my blog posts are as well written as this one–I actually proofread for once and didn’t just pad with pictures of my cat.

  4. Very cool! Best of luck!!

    Yes, I’ll read and love your blog regardless of whether or not you get a spot with SLSO, and j think it’s really cool how you put it out there. Now we can be rooting for you. πŸ™‚

    Isn’t it funny how everyone else’s opinions seem to matter more to us than ourselves? Maybe more sad than funny. Although maybe some of those people on American Idol should have a little less faith in their own opinions, you’re certainly in position to have a realistic view of your own performance.
    Kate recently posted…SHITR HappensMy Profile

    1. Yeah, there’s definitely a correlation here for all aspects of life! And in society today many people have a false sense of confidence, or perhaps those are just the ones that end up on TV in reality shows.

      I probably lost more readers when I came in last in the Skippo πŸ˜‰

  5. It’s the running. The more you run, the better you’ll sound. And, if you don’t “win,” shoot for an age group award or a finisher’s t-shirt or headband.

    Good luck!

  6. Yes, your opinion does count. So does the judges. So does mine. You are an excellent musician. I am a student of music. I will never become an excellent musician. My hope is to become a better student of music. You will always be an excellent musician. You are an excellent teacher of violin. I am a much better violin player because of your teaching. (That’s my opinion – yours may be that I am only a ‘better’ violin player. ) Good luck on your audition. You’ll kill ’em, because I am in awe of your ability. (When you are selected will you still have time for my lessons?)

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