Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Well, I got an email this morning titled "Yale Audition".

The bad news: I didn't get the spot.
The good news: Adam Rosenblatt did.
The other good news: I'm first on the wait list.

I knew from the beginning that if the audition was just between me and Adam, Adam would easily win. I would still do it anyway, and still hope for the best, but I knew that he had the advantage. It was the other seven people I was worried about.

There is still a chance for me to go to Yale. A few of the current returning Yale students are in the job circuit right now. If one of them wins a job, that means I'm going! Also, if my teacher is somehow able to convince the dean of Yale to take seven students for next year, I may also be able to join. The economy sucks, so therefore the endowment at Yale is pretty tight, and it would be fairly difficult to convince the dean to do something like that.

Regardless, I am unbelievably proud of Adam, and I'm also proud of myself for getting as far as I did. I'm keeping my fingers crossed--I've gotten pretty far, but it's not over yet!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yale is done.

At 10:45 am yesterday morning, the Yale percussion students helped me move all of my gear into the percussion studio to play what was definitely the most important audition of my life thus far. At around 8:30 pm yesterday, I was back in Baltimore, in the apartment I left looking exactly how I left it. Surreal to say the least.

All in all, I suppose I'm pretty happy about the way I played. I started with the first movement of Dances of Earth and Fire (so, just the earth), followed by Omar I, followed by a three minute free vibraphone improvisation, followed by sight-reading (which ended up being the preludes to the second and fifth Bach cello suites), followed by timpani: Carter's March, Mozart Symphony No. 39, Symphonic Metamorphosis, Burleske. From Timpani I moved to snare drum and played my Del├ęcluse etude (No. 1) and just the first excerpt from Scheherazade, which was followed by my two keyboard excerpts (La Mer on glockenspiel and Exotic Birds on xylophone), and ended with (barely enough time for) about half of my theater/set-up piece, ...And Points North.

There were definitely things that I wish I had played better, but there were also things that I played much better than I was expecting. Of course, nerves played a huge factor in my audition, but I knew they would and did my best to prepare for it. I still wish that I could figure out a way to play snare drum without getting the shakes--snare drum is an instrument that I've worked very hard on improving, especially in the past year. It's very frustrating to work on something that hard, but lose about 50% of the work to shaking hands. Most of the practicing I did for this audition (as well as in general this year) was on snare drum.

There were nine total in the finals. I got the opportunity to meet and talk to most of them. Obviously, I already knew my Peabody comrade, Adam Rosenblatt--but other than us, people were coming from anywhere from Texas and Cleveland to China and Singapore. Everybody was really nice, and everybody was really good. When we were all sitting in the studio, taking our written exam/group interview, it sort of dawned on me: of the sixty-plus applicants who sent in tapes, Adam and I were invited to sit with seven of the best percussionists coming out of undergraduate school. For a few minutes, I literally could not believe I was sitting there with them.

As happy as I was with my audition, I really have no idea what's going to happen. Bob told us in our group interview that YSM is only looking to accept one, maybe two applicants. I had known this before, but being there with everybody really put it in perspective. There is literally a 1 in 9 chance that I will get in--maybe a 2 in 9 chance if I'm lucky. Everybody there was a different kind of musician, and everyone had something different to say.

I feel like, more than anything else, I wanted to show them that I was a musician before I was a percussionist. I didn't want them to think "what a good timpanist" or "what a good marimba player", or even "wow he's good at improvising" (which was a portion of the audition I think I was the only one to include). I wanted them to hear that more than anything else, in the core of all of my playing, I value making music over everything else. It doesn't matter what instrument I'm doing it on, or what setting I'm doing it in--making music was something that I was both fluent and fully invested in.

I find out before March 19th. While I was practicing at Yale, I felt strangely at ease. I felt really comfortable there, practicing fervently with all of my competition all around me, in their dirty basement studio. That place just reeked of real, down to earth hard work. I really felt like I could belong there.

I hope they felt the same way about me.