Day 1

In about a week I’ll get in my car and drive to Aspen, CO, where I’ll spend the following eight weeks at the Aspen Music Festival.  For the placement audition I’m preparing a bunch of repertoire, namely:

  • Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf, op. 67

  • Sibelius: Scherzo from Symphony No. 1 in E minor, op. 39

  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, op. 60

  • Stravinsky: The Firebird (variation)

  • Ravel: Daphnis and Chloé Suite, last 4 pages

  • Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, op. 90

  • Mendelssohn: Scherzo

This blog is called “The Summer of Practice” but in my mind I also call it “The Summer of Yes.”  I’m saying yes to pretty much anything that means I’ll perform more.  So in addition to the basic audition repertoire listed above I’m also preparing music for the Eb clarinet and Bass clarinet auditions:


  • Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, op. 14 (#63 to #65)
  • Ravel: Boléro


  • Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor, “Tragic”, Movement I,
  • Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé Suite #2

And a couple days after these auditions are done (all three are separate but take place on the same day) I’ll audition to be placed in a chamber group, likely a woodwind quintet.  For that I need to play:

  • Barber:  Summer Music
    -#1 to two measures after #1
    -#7 to six measures after #10
    -one measure before #28 to one measure after #29
  • Nielsen:  Quintet (2nd Movement)
    -Beginning of the movement through measure 16 (or until the repeat sign)
    -Variation V
  • One movement of the Mozart Concerto
  • One contrasting solo piece

And finally we just got an email from an orchestra personnel manager at the festival asking each of us if we played saxophone and if we owned one.  So happens my dad has an alto sax that he’s been trying to get me to take and learn for years.  And because this is the Summer of Yes, I said sure, I’m an amateur sax player, I can bring an alto.  I’m just hoping the saxophone is as easy to pick up as everyone’s been telling me it is.  I’ve never done more than mess around on it.

So all that stuff above is what I’ve been doing today, minus Mozart and “one contrasting solo piece”, whatever that ends up being.  I should probably make a decision about that in the next day or two.

Practicing insights:

  • Music is motion and when the air is moving forward, my technique gets better faster.
  • My focus is best during my second practice session around noon.
  • My embouchure is best (today at least) at the end of the day when I’ve been building the muscles.  In the next few days of intense practice I anticipate being stronger much sooner in the day.
  • Choice metaphor of the evening:  when I was making dinner earlier today using the slow cooker, my recipe emphasized the importance of filling the crevices between the ribs with a liquid because it’s the primary agent of heat transfer.  In other words, if liquid isn’t touching the meat it won’t get cooked.  Somewhere in my third practice sitting of the day I thought of notes as meat and air as liquid.  The more generous, the better. :)  Probably I was also hungry at the time.

Hopefully more insights and less laundry list tomorrow.  I just thought I should give a little context at first.  From here on out I’ll only refer to specifics if I feel like it’s relevant to a practice insight.  Not going to list my gear or favorite iPhone metronome app unless someone prompts me.  If anyone is interested, here is the repertoire list for the entire Aspen Music Festival this summer.  Nobody knows what piece or part they’ll be assigned to until a few days before the first rehearsal but the list alone is pretty exciting.

Good night!

p.s. to self: start practicing earlier so I finish sooner than 11:30pm.


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