Four weeks and two days to go until the Atlanta Symphony audition, but who’s counting? It’s #44 for me and I’m approaching this one entirely different. No judgement. No expectations. No back room deals with myself and the little voice in my head, trying desperately to come up with a million reasons why I should bail on the audition. Nope. Not this time. My goal is simple: to make music and “sing” as Clem would say. To put a first class audition together and take everything up to the next level. And, if possible, to do it without pain.
Let’s back up a little. First of all, the past several months have been enlightening, humbling, painful, frustrating, educational, difficult and inspiring. In the wee (dark) hours of the morning, November of 2011, I fell over Auggie on my way to the bathroom. I landed on my right hand and did a real number on my right hand pinky finger. It never really occurred to me to consider “whole body” and include my right arm being injured at all in this fall – which, by the way, when I fell over Auggie, he promptly jumped up on the bed… it’s much safer up there, after all. After months of physical therapy, it still wasn’t entirely healed but I decided to just accept it and move on. Maybe this is what getting older mean; things don’t ever heal. Then, this past June, I walked into a pole, gave myself whiplash and stirred up an old injury from a nasty car accident nearly 15 years ago. Between not really receiving proper care after that accident, the tendon/ligament damage in my right pinky, many miles behind the wheel of my Subaru and years of overuse holding that silver tube up to my face, is it any wonder I was now experiencing tingling and numbness in my fingers and across my lips? With the expertise of a physical therapist, an acupuncturist, a sports medicine chiropractor, an old friend back home in Detroit who is also an excellent and intuitive chiropractor, another dear friend and colleague who is both a terrific rolfer and flutist, a couple of very good massage therapists, a couple of great Alexander Technique teachers and body mapping, I’m improving. It’s somewhat serendipitous that all the while, I have been studying and working to complete my requirements for licensing as a body mapping instructor (Andover Educator). Preparing for this audition is also different because in the past, when listening back to the recordings of my run throughs of the list, I would be terrified to sound “bad.” Now, I don’t care if I sound “bad,” in fact, that’s good because as it turns out, I can fix sounding “bad.”
After taking a month off from playing (Doctors orders) this past summer, and then coming back to the flute in baby steps, I was given the gift of humility, patience and learning to be less judgmental with myself. I mean seriously, when all you can do is play for one minute at a time (yes, one minute) there’s no room for judgment. I recall feeling a little sorry for myself during this time because work was slow and then it occurred to me: how lucky was I to have the gift of time?! Time to study anatomy and body mapping, time to re-map things I had mis-mapped. Time to recover and really heal these long standing injuries caused not only by accidents but further complicated by overuse and misuse of self.
Fast forward and here I am, more than a year after my sleepy stumble over Auggie, 7 months after walking full speed into the pole that supports the awning on our beloved VW Vanagon and almost 15 years to the day after that really awful car accident that likely started this whole thing in motion.
I’m enthusiastic about this audition – which is… odd. (Who are you and what have you done with Rena?) Maybe it’s because on some level I feel that nothing can hurt me on this life long audition adventure? I mean, I’ve sounded about as bad as bad could be, right? I’ve experienced some pretty debilitating pain and nagging numbness and tingling.
I’ve advanced and won some auditions but there have been more where I’ve come home empty handed than not. And, yet I’m still here, gearing up for #44 with genuine enthusiasm. Why? Because I know at the end of the day, this is what I do. I am an orchestral flutist and piccoloist and I trust that on February 18th whether or not I get anywhere, I’ll be a better player just for having prepared and taken the audition.