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Emily Grossman

The Panel

September 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM

I have an audition today.

I love auditioning. I love the thrill that comes from performing under pressure, putting one's reputation at risk, the week of stressing out that precedes it, the bloody nail biting, the voices in the head shouting, "Don't mess up, they're all judging you!--What is that note, anyway???" Yes, the untold bottled-up anxiety that surges through my veins at just the right moment during a tricky run is such a rush. Love it, just love it. Makes me want to run off the stage and out the loading dock door, and not stop until I hit the Chugiach Range.

This week, instead of my usual Wednesday teaching routine, I have rescheduled most of my students in order to make room for a special trip to Anchorage. Then at 7:20 pm, I will be standing on the stage in Atwood Hall, before a panel of my colleagues and Meistro Randall Fleisher himself, and I will play through my prepared excerpts and concerto in an audition for the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. The last time I auditioned for anything was back in 2006, to join the same symphony. Thankfully, they decided to use me, and I've enjoyed many happy adventures on the stage with them ever since. This time, however, I will be playing the viola in an attempt to expand my playing opportunities with them.

It's not like I'm unprepared or unqualified. It's not even a difficult audition, since I'm already in the symphony and I know everyone on the panel: the battle is completely mental at this point. Unfortunately, it's a battle I struggle to win. To help reduce the symptoms of performance anxiety, I really wanted to practice performing for people, which is a crucial part in the preparation process. But Melissa's out of town, and so is Maria, and quite honestly, it's been a while since I've had anyone over--outside of 35 students and their families, of course.

Unable to find an audience, I dug out my favorite torture device--the Video Camera of Penance--and began my Hundred Takes of Mozart, ready to purge the living bejeezus out of every last run. As I made my way back and forth across the living room to hit the delete button, I sensed that the camera was not the only pair of eyeballs fixed on my every move.

(From Left to Right: Turdle, Enos, Sheldon, Randy, and Slim)

From the top of the sofa, they sat in a row, giving me their undivided attention; their faces held nothing but the most sincere interest. After forty takes, how could they still be so attentive and encouraging? Yet there they sat, with nary a criticism.

Bolstered by the stamp of approval from five onlooking friends, I played on. What a difference ears can make--now, I had something to communicate! I played my best for them, and when I messed up, they didn't even flinch. Randy may have even cracked a smile when I nailed that one particularly hairy run. Surely, I could trust this panel! Still feeling nervous? Simply pull them out of their shells, and who can be nervous about a turtle with no shell? It makes me smile just thinking about it.

What if they were all just turtles, and I was their best friend? What harm can be done in thinking so? My hands stop fidgeting, my pulse slows, and I feel peaceful and secure once more, and happier than I've been in days.

Thanks guys, I owe you one.

From Krista Moyer
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 11:08 AM
OMG! Randy is sooooo cute!

Good luck on your audition. I'm sure you will nail it. After all, you've already gotten past one discerning panel. :-)

From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM
After playing before a discriminating panel like those five, you are clearly ready for your audition. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
From Christina C.
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 5:05 PM
too funny

ps- Good luck.. and I realize that the jury members are already your colleagues, but given your line of work I'm sure there's a few sensitive souls among them ....probably best if you don't try to pull them out of their shells.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 6:56 PM
Go nail it!
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 6:56 PM
Thank you! I'll keep you updated...
From Michael Avagliano
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 7:05 PM
Knock em dead, stand partner! It was so much fun to play with you this summer... why can't it be August again, say, next week?
From Christian Vachon
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 8:10 PM
Best of luck Emily!


From marjory lange
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 8:55 PM
I love the idea of thinking of the panel AS the turtles...that same impartial, but friendly, interest.

Go for it with both feet, uh hands...

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 10:53 PM
I was told to play for broccolis so having your turtles as audience is definite a big step up:) Break a leg, Emily!
From George Mitrou
Posted on September 4, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Heheh, I really enjoyed this journal entry!

Good luck with the audition!!

From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 5, 2013 at 6:23 AM
Well, it's over. I battled a lot of anxiety, and so my bow did things it doesn't usually do, which frustrated me the entire way through. But what can you expect, having never stood on a stage and auditioned for an orchestra before, in all my 38 years? It could have been way worse, and I was able to manage my way through. I'm grateful for the experience, for better or worse, and I think it would be beneficial to go through more like them in the future. I'm only sad because I wish I could have shown them how I really play.

I am soooo glad it's over.

Thank you everyone for your encouragement, and I thought of you all while I was there. And turtles... ;)

From jean dubuisson
Posted on September 5, 2013 at 9:49 AM
so exciting Emily, do you have the result already? it's interesting that the viola gives you more opportunities, a friend of mine who switched to viola a few years ago told me exactly the same thing.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 5, 2013 at 7:52 PM
Just got the results: they offered me a tenured position as a violist. So, I guess all those hours of knitting paid off after all. ;)
From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Congratulations! You should thank your panel for their helpful comments during your prep.
From jean dubuisson
Posted on September 8, 2013 at 1:26 PM
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 9, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Thank you! :)
From Christina C.
Posted on September 10, 2013 at 3:03 PM
Way to go Emily... you've definitely gone over to the dark side now.

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