President's Own Disaster

I went to Washington D.C. this weekend to take my third audition for a trumpet position in the President’s Own Marine Band. My first audition was in 2006 during my undergrad, and took a different opening a few months prior. The group is by far the most prestigious group in the ranks of military bands, and I have yet to leave that audition feeling good about myself. This visit was particularly jarring due to logistics. No audition is perfect logistically in any way. Most auditions are always running behind, this one however was running ahead, by a lot.

At my first audition for the President’s Own, I learned my very first lesson of professional auditions. The lesson was, don’t play too much before your audition. I went with a large group of trumpet players from IU and had to warm up in the dreaded mass warm-up room with 100 other individuals. In that room it was easy to be distracted by, “oh, she’s doing Clarke, I should do some of that,” and “that seems a lot faster than I am taking Variations on America, I better practice that faster.” By the end of my “warm-up” I was spent, going into the audition barely able to make it through the 3 minutes of repertoire on the list.

From that moment on I made a new audition habit of warming up BEFORE I arrived at the audition so I wouldn’t have to deal with the mind games of hearing other trumpet players. My routine has always been…

1.     Warm Up At Least 1hr Before You Play

2.     Arrive at the Audition

3.     Get Comfortable & Focus on the Task At Hand

4.     Arrive in the Private Warm-Up Room

5.     Do Some Focus, Calming Breaths, and Mental Preparation

6.     Play A Brief Secondary Warm-up

7.     Play Starts of Excerpts

8.     Listen to Music to Get Amped Up

9.     Play!

This routine has always worked for me. If I am only told I have 5 minutes, I shorten it, if I am told I have an hour I take my sweet time. The big idea behind this process is to not play the entire length of time I am in the room.

Well, this Monday I arrived to the President’s Own audition at 7am, arriving already warmed up as usual. I was number 29, and told that I would go around 10am or later. I sat and listened to some music, and Ted Talks then around 9am someone came out calling my number. The gentleman walked me to my room explaining that I had roughly about 20-30 minutes in the room before my audition, and that someone would come to my room about 5 minutes before to let me know it was almost my turn. I looked at my watch when I got into the room, and it said 9:00am knowing I need to be ready to go around 9:20. I decided to do some meditation (Headspace), something I have found to really focus my mind and calm my heart rate. Finished meditation feeling fantastic I checked my watch again, it was 9:06. As I was putting my headphones away, there was a knock on the door, a man came in and asked if I am ready. I told him that I was not, I was told I had about 30 minutes and would be given a warning. He told me this was the warning, but I had to go now. At that moment I had a second where I was about to go off on him, but figured that would do me no good. He allowed me one minute to play and no longer. Needless to say, the meditation went right out the window, and my chops were pretty cold since the last time I played was around 6am. I did the very best I could with the circumstances, but did not advance.

Though a situation like this has never occurred in my many years of auditioning, I guess I learned to be cautious with the time in my warm-up room. On a happier note I got to see some of my really amazing friends from my undergrad at Indiana, I saw the Pershing’s Own Herald Trumpets kill it, plus I got some quality playing time and a little inspirational butt kicking from my friend EJ who's in the Pershing’s Own. I think the most valuable thing I got from this trip was playing with my friend EJ.

I hope to take the things I learned from this trip and apply them to the next auditions coming up on the horizon.