WARNING: This post does not contain reflections on trumpet related material, but rather provides an opportunity to vent feelings about a recently decision in my life. This article will contain vague descriptions of two positions, as well as provide me with a therapeutic opportunity to publicly present my thoughts and feelings in a public forum.Those of you who know me can probably figure this information out, but things are left vague none-the-less for anonymity for the positions . Whether you read this article through, or skip it altogether, it is intended to provide me with closure on a hard and somewhat hurtful decision I had to recently make regarding my future and employment.
I was recently presented with an opportunity to step into a position that would have been the culmination of years of study and practice on my instrument. This also would have been an opportunity that would have enabled me to begin a career in a field that I have been working towards since I declared my major as a freshman in my undergraduate. At the same time another opportunity was presented to me, but with an outcome that was not 100% secured. This position however, would have enabled me to stay in my current location and start a similar life in my field of study without having to be separated from my wife and to start a family sooner.
Now, the subject of distance in regards to our occupational localities between my wife and I have never been an issue in our future as a couple. We knew what we were signing up for when we got engaged that this would be the life of two musicians, especially in the early years of our careers. The only kicker is that one of us has a position that does not allow for very much leniency in where we live. The other issues is that I can not just apply to university teaching positions near me without those universities posting a vacancy. The same issues exists in the realm of performing in that where I currently live is oversaturated with fine musicians and in many cases subbing opportunities in numerous major and minor ensembles are often non-existent.
The overarching issues with these positions was that the timeframe of response for one position was not flexible AT ALL, while the other (less secure, but more geographically beneficial position) was scheduled to respond with an answer 5 days after the first's hard deadline. As the confirmed position's deadline loomed, I reached out to as many colleagues and mentors as possible to discuss the Pros and Cons of my predicament. In the end, I was somewhat forced to say NO to the confirmed position in hopes of the other position would come to fruition.
The part of this story that relates to the title of this article is that due to personal health factors, the second position's outcome has drastically dwindled in it's potential! These factors are not ones I can control, but things that have been given to me at birth. Several years ago, these factors could have been overlooked or even given a direct waiver, but in the current state of these positions and organizations, tremendous cutbacks are changing their screening processes. This is where it hurts!
I REALLY wanted to accept the first position, but I needed to find out my potential in the second position. The need to know the second positions potential outcome was because it would have allowed my wife and I to live together and start our family sooner than our original plan - which is what we wanted as a family. As mentioned, I requested an extension on the deadline from the first position, but they would not budge. I was forced say no to a confirmed position in hope of position that would have allowed my wife and I to be together in the first several years of our marriage. The sad part now, is that even with the health factors that are slowing my screening process, the timetable for the second position's potential has been drastically shifted. So much so, that it almost seems like it will never happen.
That is the hurt! That is the pain of saying No. Now that I have been given the information about the second position's potential, it hurts that I had to say No to the first opportunity due to their timeline only to find out the poor outcome of the second position. I was given the opportunity to start a career in a job that would have allowed me to do what I originally set out to do, but the second positions immediate benefit to my family's near future was too appealing to let pass. It only makes it worse that I was not given a bit longer of a deadline to hear from the second position before I had to let the first know. I would have only need 5 more days, but they were not willing to bend on that deadline. 120 hours! That is all I would have needed to be given in order to not feel this pain of saying no to something that now, is in many ways, was my only potential of doing what I love in the near future.
I know that decisions in life are not all easy, especially the ones that present information later indicating that you now are not getting anything when you could have had something great. This is the struggle of life, and the pain of saying No. These are life lessons and in many ways events that help shape who I am as a person. The only difficulty is that now I am not just responsible for myself, but I have my family and potential family to keep in mind during these decisions. Was it wrong for me to take that gamble on the potential of having a position with my wife and to start our family at an earlier date? Or was it wrong of me to turn down something confirmed in hopes of something unconfirmed that would have benefited my family sooner? These are decisions that, in hindsight, are obvious now but in the moment hard to make. What would you have done? Did I make the right decision at the time, or did I gamble on something that shouldn't have?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I want to hear if you would have handled it the same way or differently.
Again, ignore the poor grammar or conversational style that this article provides. It is providing an opportunity to let me present my feelings in a therapeutic format.
I love to travel! Getting the opportunity to see the world, especially when I get to do it with my wife, is one of the things I have dreamed of doing since I was younger. Experiencing new places, cultures and sharing experiences is something that I would encourage everyone to do since it allows us to broaden our visions of the world we live in. I also love to make music. The only difficulty is that playing trumpet and traveling does not always work well when you are on the road. Many times I am able to take my horns with me and find a place to practice so that my abilities the next day or day after our travels are unnoticed. The issue is only when I am not able to take my trumpet with me and I am forced to either travel with only a mouthpiece or I am not able to find time where I can buzz without disturbing others around me.
I have often found that going away for a weekend trip showcases noticeable deficiencies when I come back home to practice. I often see a lack in endurance, an unfocused aperture, and sometimes a spreading in my aperture that does not allow for strict control at softer dynamics. Coming back to practice after a short time away and being frustrated forced me to create a regiment in my routine to get back what I am use to in my performance. This routine took several trips to experiment in what worked best for me, but for those who are reading this - this same routine may not work for you. I strongly encourage you to experiment the same way I did so that you can find something that works best for you.
My routine revolves around a TWO day recovery:
-Long Tones with hairpin dynamic exploration ( p<ff >pp)
-Two Octave Lip Bends (Low C down to Low G then ascending to G about the staff)
-Attack Practice (Breath - Poo - Tongue)
-Spend time playing Bordogni or Concone Etudes
(Listen to your face! Do not push yourself and force results - you can hurt yourself!)
-Long Tones with Lip Bends
-Clarke Scale Studies with Extensions
-Goldman Articulation Etudes (#1 and #2) as well as James Thompson's *$%&#$* Exercises
-Lyrical Etudes and Solo Repertoire
-Upper Register Slurs and Articulation
-Practice resumes to normal performance!!
Again, this routine did not always look this way. I came to finding this specific regiment through trial-and-error. I experimented with several exercises and studies that allowed me to finally hone in on what really worked for me. Do not get discouraged in this experimentation. Figuring out what works best for you to get back to the way you were before your time off is an adventure! So, get out there and see the world, but don't be worried about coming back to your horns - there will be another adventure waiting at home when you return!
This past week has been one heck of a week in terms of achieving personal victories in auditions for potential employment in playing positions. On Tuesday of this past week I auditioned for an ensemble that will remain nameless. I had auditioned for this ensemble before in the past, but did not find any luck advancing even through the first round. This last time however, I was fortunate to advance to the finals to be told unofficially that I had would have been offered a position with that ensemble, but due to circumstances of miscommunication and personal difficulties in timing, they were not able to offer me that position at that time. Overall it was a sad moment and upsetting in many ways for me, but one thing that I can take from this is that I took a level of my playing and transformed it to something that now has the ability to win positions in prestigious ensembles in the United States. This focus in my practice had never truly be on the forefront in what I worked on as a performer. Most of my time was spent focusing on the pedagogical aspects of the trumpet and examining and performing solo literature.
I am taking a particular piece of advice away from all of what happened this week, and that element is that you should always be willing to ask for help and seek guidance from others who either work in that particular environment you are auditioning for, or around it. What I mean by that, is that one should not be afraid to play and perform for individuals who know about the literature you are performing, either through first hand experience of playing them themselves in an ensemble, or work around that literature in a different section. Having first hand experiential knowledge and insight provided to someone working on excerpts from the certain literature, it is easy to gain tips-and-tricks as to what conductors expect when they hear it and, what they others in a section are hoping to hear beside them in performances. This bit of knowledge may seem really obvious when it comes to trumpeters preparing for auditions, but in all of my times preparing for auditions I didn't take the time to seek out every one who was willing to listen to me. This past time, I reached out to every contact I had in that particular realm of performance and asked if they could take time to provide their personal insights into what they thought of my preparation at that particular point.
The act of activity seeking out and aggressively heeding the advice of that what others provided to my performance helped shape what I was able to provide to the "nameless" ensemble that for whom I was auditioning. Having unofficially been told the news of my unofficial success will be regarded as one of my biggest successes in my personal study on the trumpet. The knowledge that I was able to transform myself into a player that, before wasn't able to advance out of a first round, to player that was unanimously voted on by the committee as being their "choice or no one" has provided me with the confidence that I can make it in this field. Having personal confidence in one's self is almost as important as being able to play the trumpet. Believing in yourself and knowing that you have what it takes keeps you motivated, and it enables you to continue even though some times are tough. This was not my first audition and I had not advanced in many before, but this victory has enabled me to place my confidence on a new level to push me even further than before.
So, in the TL:DR version of what I am rambling on about you should not be afraid to seek out the help and insights any and everyone you know that can help you. Every bit of information they can provide is a small bit of insight into what the committee could be thinking when you perform a certain excerpt for them at the audition.
Happy Practicing and don't be afraid to reach out once and a while to ask for help.