I don't think i wrote about this yet, but I have an audition in Denver two weeks from today. It's my first professional audition in almost a year and a half, and it's coming at the end of a summer when I almost didn't play at all, so I've really been trying to play catch-up and get my chops back at the same time as I learn a few new excerpts and brush off some old ones. (For those non-musicians, auditions consist of a minute or two of a solo piece and then a bunch of pre-selected excerpts from the traditional orchestra repertoire. There are standards, and usually a few maverick ones thrown in to mess with the audition-takers' heads.) I actually had determined that I was through with this, that auditions and I had parted ways, and I was very happy with the arrangement. But then an audition opened up in a place I wanted to move, and my entire family will be there the exactly same week, and here I am breaking out my Don Juan one more time.
It's so goddamn frustrating. I have been working on most of these excerpts for upwards of eight years now, and some of them haven't improved appreciably in years. Some of them have, in fact, gotten worse. I swear to god, the only time I've ever played Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream well was maybe seven years ago, the second time I ever did it for an audition. Since then, it's been a barrage of teachers telling me a myriad of different ways to play it better. My elbow should be lower, higher, head back, viola up, curved thumb, bent pinky, and, after all of that, relax! Because that's the crux of the problem: I can't relax enough to play through the piece, which is very light and delicate and involves a technique wherein the bow is bounced repeatedly on the strings. I have been spending eight damn years just trying to relax for maybe ninety seconds, and I still can't do it. It's incredibly frustrating on a number of levels, and also seems like a rather negative metaphor for my life. Sometimes it seems like, if I could just curve my pinky in the right way and let my wrist move easily, everything (and not just the piece) would automatically be better. I know it's silly, but the tension and my own personal struggle with anxiety seem to me like symptoms of the same issue. Are they related? Or just an unfortunate coincidence?