13. April 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Ramble

A lot of my students are currently stressing about youth orchestra auditions, since most youth orchestras in our area are holding auditions this month. When I say stressed I really do mean stressed. Now normally I’m a pretty tough teacher, and I really hound them about glitches and articulation and dynamics and all those things we have to think about when we are playing (talk about multitasking!). Right now, though, I tend to be more of a cheerleader. They are good students. They are playing well. They have done the work. But one thing they can’t quite accept is that they might not be absolutely perfect. Some are incredibly nervous right now. My heart goes out to them.

I explain to them that we simply aren’t perfect, or at least that perfection is incredibly rare. (I may have been perfect once in my life, but I’m probably wrong about that!) I tell them that their audition committee comes with no weapons … I jokingly say that they witness more weaponry in my studio than they will ever see at their audition. I tell them they are required to play their very best on that day, and that “very best” can differ depending on day and reed. I tell them to remember to breathe — that I’ve even had to write “BREATHE” in my part sometimes because if nerves kick in I forget to do that simple but necessary task. I tell them to lie to themselves: “I’m not nervous! Not at all!” This is FUN!” I tell them to go in with the intention of making music rather than thinking “Perfect, perfect, perfect.”

And then I tell them our rather popular line we all say if we do make a mistake:

Thank goodness I’m not a brain surgeon!

Which makes me wonder … what the heck do brain surgeons say when they make a mistake?


  1. Seriously, have them watch this:

    Can’t remember where I found this – maybe even from you, Patty, but it’s the best advice I’ve seen, coming from the best in the business…


    I’ll try again:

  3. If they read this blog they’ve certain seen that, Bob! I posted it on March 4! :-)