One of my stated goals when I began taking lessons five years ago was to get good enough to play as a community member with the university orchestra whose concerts I like to attend and with which my teacher plays. Every summer my teacher has a conversation with me about my readiness on that score. This year, when we discussed it at the end of July, he stated that he felt I was ready, but he didn't want me to slow down my learning process with the effort I would need to put forth to be fully prepared for the concerts.
I'll be honest and say that it upset me, but I know that what he said made perfect sense so I put the idea away for the time being and focused on my lesson material. After all, that was the point of deferring, right?
A month after my teacher and I had that talk, I mentioned it to a couple of friends in chamber ensemble. One of the ladies also plays the viola for the university orchestra. She suggested I go for it anyway. Unwilling to go against my teacher's advise, I shared her comment with him to gauge his reaction, and to my surprise he agreed, but recommended I audition on both violin and viola since they really needed violas. Oh, and by the way, the auditions were being held the following week.
I wasn't worried about the violin portion of the audition because I had prepared what I wanted to play before the decision was made that I should not try this year. However,while I have had a viola for two years, I haven't done much with it, nor have I gotten comfortable with alto clef. With a week to the audition, I worked up a piece transposed from the violin to viola, along with an excerpt that I had been helping my son practice for his upcoming audition for regionals.
Proud of my accomplishment, I told my teacher at my lesson that Friday what I was going to play. He was fine with the excerpt, but suggested I play something other than the transposition. Over the weekend, I worked hard on the piece he recommended which was no problem since I played it three years ago. But I wanted to do well, so I put in as much effort as I could to polish it up.
My audition was scheduled for right after work Monday of last week so my bosses let me warm up in the board room for 20 minutes before I headed over to the school. So far so good. I found the location, only to note that the conductor wasn't there. A quick call got that sorted and it was time to show what I could do.
The audition was informal, just me and the conductor. I didn't think I was nervous, but just 6 bars into the piece things went way off course. Kindly, the conductor indicated I start over, which I did, but it was a complete disaster. A couple of false starts later, the conductor started asking a few questions. After a quick conversation, and noting that he seemed very approachable, I mentioned I had another piece prepared. Thank goodness that one went well!
My violin never left its case. The long and the short of it is, he's letting me play. Perhaps he's taking a chance on me because both my teacher and my friend contacted him, or possibly because any viola is better than no viola. At any rate, I am getting the opportunity to realize my dream.
I don't know if I will regret having the audacity to audition with a week's notice on an instrument I don't play in a clef I don't read; but so far I am enjoying the experience immensely. If nothing else, no future audition attempt will ever be as horrible as this first one.
We started rehearsal two weeks ago. Next week is our first concert. At least I can now say that alto clef is getting easier!
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