Auditioning for a symphony and preparing for performance in general is a lot like training for a triathlon or a marathon. Both body and mind must be disciplined and focused in order to reach full performance potential. For those of you who have been following our Gals With Goals journey, you will see that all of my goals have been preparing me for this particular month. In my last blog post I listed very specific ways I’ll be preparing for my audition, but lets take a step back to consider some other really important elements involved in preparing for performance.
Maximize your time. Once I committed to this audition, it became my number one priority. That’s easier said than done when you have a variety of responsibilities and commitments and you’re a musician with four jobs! It’s forced me to prioritize every aspect of my life and to clear everything unnecessary from my schedule. Sorry friends, don’t plan on me hanging out much this month. If you want to make plans, they will have to be scheduled post-audition. 😉 This also means that my house won’t be as OCD clean as it usually is. Spring cleaning will have to be postponed until May, along with yard work and that really stinks because we’ve had some really nice days and I want to be outside! (Good thing I scheduled my gardening goal for May!) In order to get enough practice time in each day and still meet my normal day-to-day responsibilities, I’m waking up extra early. During this first week of April I was on spring break at MTMS so I was waking up at 6:00am every morning, starting the morning off right with a workout (many of which came from my March yoga goal), continued with my morning routine and was practicing by 8:00am until around 8:00pm with a lunch and dinner break and several small breaks throughout the day. I’ve been back to the grindstone this week with work, so I had to squeeze in all of my practice between 8:00am and 2:00pm.
Maintain and care of your instrument. As many of you already know, my flute took a tumble during the MTMS Halloween Party at the end of October, so I had to have the entire thing overhauled during the month of November. After many tears and an expensive repair, my flute is like new again. I’ve stopped using it during my student’s lessons in order to avoid potential disasters and I’m extra careful to keep it in the best shape possible. Clay has made several adjustments to my piccolo to make sure its in the best possible playing condition for the audition. Thanks, Clay!
Your body is also your instrument so think about what you are consuming. During the month of January my goals was to eat strictly vegan for the month and I felt absolutely amazing because of it! We’ve kept up with a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle for the most part and have the occasional “meat cheat” meal on the weekends. It is really important to stick with your normal eating habits during an audition and avoid foods that upset your stomach. For flutists the condition of our embouchure (our lips) is critical so avoiding access salt is always a good idea. I personally like to have a banana before I play to settle my nerves and lately I’ve been having one everyday as a mid-morning snack and sometimes again in the evenings at work to keep the hunger pains at bay.
Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine. This one is a no brainer to avoid additional jitters and you know I don’t go anywhere without my gigantic Starbucks cup full of water! When I’m nervous however, staying hydrated is something I tend to forget about. I love my morning coffee and I’m not trying to cut that out of my morning routine anytime soon. Lets hope I don’t get a morning audition time. 😉
Get plenty of rest. I love and absolutely NEED sleep or I simply cannot function. I’ve found that as long as I keep my sleep schedule consistent by waking up and going to bed at the same time everyday, I can stay focused and energetic throughout the entire day. When you are burning from both ends sleep is usually the first thing to go in order to fit everything else in for the day and its one of those things you just can’t sacrifice as a performer.
Meditation and mental practice. Auditioning can be a roller coaster ride of emotions. One day you feel absolutely secure in your playing and the next day you feel like you have never touched the instrument in your life and have thoughts of throwing in the towel. I’ve made meditation a part of my yoga practice and found that it has helped keep negative thoughts at bay. Don’t get me wrong, I still have them all the time and have to talk myself out of crazy town. Joe can certainly attest to that! The meditation and positive affirmations really help to create the mental toughness necessary when competing in the audition process.
Exercise. Reaching our peak performance can be dangerous if we aren’t careful and taking proper precautions. It is absolutely imperative to make sure that our bodies and minds are in the best physical shape in order to endure hours and hours of practice everyday without injuring ourselves. Yoga has really provided a nice foundation for my practice and gives me the chance to warm-up my body before warming up on the flute. Amy Porter’s DVD Anatomy of Sound includes a really great yoga workout specifically designed for flutists and I’ve found it to be a nice addition to my mornings. It has helped me improve my posture while playing and gives great exercises to avoid flute-related injuries such as carpal tunnel and tendonitis. During the yoga portion of the workshop, Laura Dwyer discusses the importance of stretching the Psoas in order to reduce performance anxiety. This was news to me and a trick I plan to use right before my audition.
Here are some positive DailyQuotes to get you through your week. When in doubt, Eat, Sleep, Flute, Repeat…