I took the day off today to audition for the Grand Rapids Symphony substitute violin list. When I was in high school, I played nearly every classical and pops concert with the GRS, and I really enjoy playing with the ensemble (I enjoy playing it more than listening to it, in fact).
So now that I’m starting to get music back in my life, to play the violin again, I naturally wanted to play in a good ensemble. It only made sense to play in the Grand Rapids Symphony. There’s just one little detail … I haven’t practiced regularly for more than six years. And as you may have heard me mention, my job is a tad challenging, so it was a bit of a reach to think I could get my chops back in the allotted time. I decided to do the audition maybe 5 weeks ago and started practicing about 2 weeks ago. I even skipped a few days, which is kind of embarrassing to admit.
I almost canceled the audition, since I wasn’t exactly prepared well enough to get on the list. But no, I said I was going to do it, so I wanted to do it. My only concern was insulting the jury with my playing. That would be bad.
So I played … it was pretty dodgy, but I don’t think I reached the point of insulting the jury. Close, though. More specifically, they probably could tell that I used to be very good and might even have been vaguely irritated that I didn’t prepare well enough to get on the list, because I’m sure they can always use another good player.
Ultimately, however, the audition was good for me. It gave me something to shoot for, gave me a bit of a kick start to get playing again. It feels good to play again, even if I don’t sound very good yet. The audition also "measured" me; it showed very clearly the level of my playing right now – and it ain’t what it used to be.
I want to keep playing, and I want my chops back. If I can manage to play about 30 minutes/day 5 days/week, I figure I’ll have 80% of my chops back within a couple of months or so (I’d say I’m at about 60% right now). That’s pretty good, actually. And if I started practicing for an audition like the GRS sub list 8 weeks before the audition, I’d probably be ready. So maybe I’ll try again next year (unless I did in fact insult them with my playing this year!).
Right now I’m also thinking about talent and responsibility. Thanks to innate talent and lots of hard work as a kid, I have the ability to play the violin very well; however, I haven’t nurtured that ability in several years. It began to feel like an obligation, and so I pulled away from it. But now I miss it … so was I spiting myself by wandering away? Maybe once you develop a talent you DO also acquire some sense of responsibility to nurture that talent. I don’t know. I just know that I miss playing, and I’m happy to be playing again.
For right now, I’m playing for myself, but I recognize that maybe I do have some responsibility to nurture my talents and ultimately to share them. It’s simply something I can do – it’s one of my assets. It just seems a shame to let it completely go to waste.