Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Reflection: Jenni Brandon, Going to the Sun: Snapshots from Glacier National Park

Prior to my position at BYU-Idaho, I was given the incredible opportunity to enter academia as the adjunct bassoon professor for the University of Montana School of Music.  This opportunity was spearheaded by Dr. Jennifer Gookin Cavanaugh, oboe professor and woodwind area chair.  Once a week I traversed the Rocky Mountains to teach the bassoonists at UM - approximately 5 hours round-trip just in travel time.  It was a long day but it was such a pleasure to work with college students on a weekly basis in addition to rehearsing and performing with the UM School of Music faculty members.

I will forever be grateful to Dr. Cavanaugh for inviting me to join the faculty and for all the music faculty who warmly welcomed me.  I was only there for two semesters - cut short by accepting my position in Idaho - but I learned a lot.  Dr. Cavanaugh was a fantastic mentor and watching her navigate the many roles she has in the school of music was an education for me.  One project in particular was her commissioning a new work for oboe and bassoon by California based composer, Jenni Brandon.

Originally funded by a grant from the University of Montana and then with additional funding from the Great Falls Symphony/Chinook Winds Quintet and other co-commisioners (Laura Medisky, Nermis Mieses, Bowling Green State University, Susan Nelson, Bowling Green State University, Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition Chair), Jenni Brandon composed an evocative piece, an hommage to the jewel of Montana: Glacier National Park.  

I have participated in commission projects before as a performer.  It's always...interesting.  You're never quite sure what you will end up playing - which is both risky and very exciting.  You receive music and typically program notes/compositional ideas from the composer.  You are then given the great task of taking an idea and making it a reality, breathing life into something which has not yet been heard, creating the sound which will often set the precedent for how the piece is played in perpetuity.

Being a part of this creative process within a larger ensemble means that, mostly, your job is to show up, play the right notes, find the musical lines and help determine if/when they are errors in the parts.  Several editions of the parts may go back and forth between the composer and the performers.  Recordings of rehearsals can sometimes aid in this process depending on how "finished" the composer feels the work is.

My first involvement in a commission was in 1997.  Frank Tichelli's wondrous piece for wind ensemble, Blue Shades.  It has become standard rep for all the best wind ensembles but, for me, it will remain in my heart as a piece newly created and realized by several ensemble around the country.  Including the Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Ensemble, where I was playing my senior year of high school.  

After that, commission projects seem to come more quickly especially during my time as an undergrad at Manhattan School of Music.  MSM, a proponent of new music in general, seemed to always have new works premiering within the many different ensembles.  Two in particular stick out in my memory: Scott Eyerly's opera, The House of Seven Gables, which we recorded with Albany Records.  The second was a piece by Lucia Dlugoszewski who passed away soon after we premiered her piece for two chamber orchestras in different meters.  Sadly, the name of the composition escapes me and very little about her work can be found on the Great InterWeb.

Both of the experiences stick out in my mind because they were so wildly different from each other.  Eyerly's opera was tonal, dark, accessible, with a story line well known by listeners.  We spent many hours in rehearsal with the composer who actively made changes.  The performances were well publicized and the recording project an obvious priority for the composer and the school.  I was playing the second bassoon/contra part which required many fast changes between the instruments.  In one rehearsal with the composer, my haste to grab the contra resulted in my bassoon falling out of the stand, sliding across the rehearsal room floor and separating into its many joints.  There were some unpleasant words that issued forth from my mouth, a panicked retrieval of all the splayed parts, a few tears, and then a strong and awkward exchange with the composer about adequate rests for instrument changes.

In stark contrast, Dlugoszewki's peice was tackled by the New Music Ensemble under the unrelenting precision of Claire Heldrich - percussionist and master of all mind-boggling contemporary rhythms.  I recall the great challenge we faced and, honestly, never conquered in preparing and performing the piece.  Lucia joined us for one rehearsal wherein I would describe her response to us as...disappointed.  I don't remember the performance going particularly well and likely skulked off stage myself feeling completed incapable of managing the task at hand.

Both experiences had an element of unpleasantness attached to them.  When Dr. Cavanaugh told me of her desire to commission a new work, I was apprehensive.

Fortunately, Jenni Brandon is an absolutely lovely human being, a beautiful musician, as well as a gifted and collaborative composer.  We presented the piece for premier at the 2016 International Double Reed Society Conference in Columbus, GA along with Brandon's The Sequoia Trio for oboe, clarinet, bassoon.  I think we (all musicians) put quite a bit of pressure on ourselves when premiering new pieces (especially at our respective conferences) in front of respected colleagues and composers.  Unfortunately, I think the pressure of the premier clouded my personal interaction with the piece - more worried about the product and its reception by our peers than Jenni's musical intention.

At the end of this semester my oboe colleague at BYU-I, Kristen Bull and I decided to have a double reed studio recital.  To round out the recital I asked if we could perform Going to the Sun... for our students.  We rehearsed the piece four times and I was amazed at how easily it came together.  How all the sections made sense and, with Kristen's wonderful musical intuition, I felt like we were able to execute the segues organically.   Totally void of concern for the performance in front of our students, I found myself joyfully practicing  my part, listening to our rehearsal recordings, humming the themes and thinking of my four years in Montana.

Suddenly, the piece became an entirely new, beautiful, celebration and reminiscence of a magical time and place in my life.  

I created a video of all my favorite pictures from our family trips to Glacier National Park to play along with our performance.  As I chose pictures and continued listening to our rehearsal recordings, I was overwhelmed with the beauty masterfully depicted by Jenni.  I fondly remembered my weekly drives over the majesty of the mountains, my time at the university and all the many lessons I learned and memories I now cherish.

After Kristen and I performed it, I knew I had to put together my images with the live recording from our double reed studio recital - not perfect, of course - to truly capture what I believe was Jenni Brandon's true intention for the work.  The end result is below and I am unabashedly in love with it!  I have watched this video numerous times and with each viewing, I'm amazed at the truly incredible creation of music I was permitted to take part in.

I'm so grateful to Dr. Cavanaugh and Jenni Brandon for being visionaries, using their formidable talents and resources to push projects just like these forward.  I'm especially grateful to have made a new and positive memory with a commissioned work and truly look forward to taking part in these projects more in the future.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Marion Reinhard and the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet: BYU-Provo

During my undergraduate study at the Manhattan School of Music (1999-2002) I became obsessed with the Berlin Philharmonic bassoon sound.  To me, it was the most beautiful, musical, dark, luscious sounding bassoon section of any major orchestra in the world.  I described it to my sister just yesterday like this,

"Imagine you have curled up in front of a fire on a cold and dreary day with a book you know you love.  The book itself has that unmistakable musk found in used bookstores - old leather and brittle pages. You curl up with this book, in front of the fire, under a blanket, on a day when you have absolutely nothing else you need to do - in fact all that you needed to do, has been done.  You have nothing but this wonderful book and the luxury of the day.  This is the sound of the bassoon section of the Berlin Philharmonic: warm, dark, luxury."

I was an undergrad during a time when you purchased CD's.  Almost all somewhere in the $12 - $20 price range unless you dug deep in the clearance bins and found a treasure.  Once a week I would head down to Tower Records at Lincoln Center (because Virgin Records at Times Square was always too expensive and didn't have nearly the immense classical section), travel up to the second floor and pass through the doors into the classical section.  I had to choose my recordings very carefully: cost, label, orchestra.  Could I afford it, was it recorded under a reputable label, was it an orchestra with a section I loved? 

I don't know how much I spent on CD's during that era but I do know that almost all of them ended up being the Berlin Philharmonic.  

The first time I heard the BPO Wind Quintet in person was during my masters degree.  Their tour included a performance in Utah at Weber State - it was everything!   October 9, 2010.

Marion Reinhard joined the BPO Wind Quintet in 2009 after the retirement of her BPO colleague Henning Trog.  It's important to note that Marion was the first female to ever received appointment to the Berlin Philharmonic bassoon section.  She achieved this in 1999.  You can read more about this in the NYTimes article Berlin in Lights: The Woman Question.  Lesser known fact about Marion that we discovered this weekend was that she now plays with the Opera Orchestra in Milan  La Scala.  On their roster it states she is the contrabassoonist.  She shared that after 13 years of playing with Berlin, she made the decision to move to Milan, where her boyfriend is from.  I believe that's what we call amore!  Marion also shared that she began playing the bassoon at the age of 16 after many years of violin study.

This weekend my flute colleague, Dr. Nadine Luke and I took BYU-I students to Provo to hear the BPO Wind Quintet and sit in on masterclasses with its members.   They performed a similar program to what I heard in 2010: Anton Reicha, Quintet, op. 88, no. 5; Pavel Haas, Quintet, op. 10; Samuel Barber, "Summer Music," op. 31; and Carl Nielsen's Wind Quintet.

On Friday night we enjoyed hearing: 
Danzi: Quintet in F-Major, Op. 56, No. 3
Reicha: Andante arioso for English Horn and wind quartet
Hindemith: Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, No. 2
Ligeti: Six Bagatelles
Nielsen: Quintet for Winds, Op. 43

It was simply wonderful!  It made me love the Hindemith, a quintet I haven't much been interested in, and confirmed why the Nielsen is part of our standard canon.  It's impossible to count how many times I have listened to and played the Nielsen.  Yet, in the hands of the BPO Wind Quintet, the piece is as fresh and exciting as ever!  

Attending the masterclass with Marion rendered me absolutely star struck and I didn't ask everything I wanted to about her life, career, sound and reed-making.  I'm so grateful for Dr. Smith who, with many years of hosting incredible musicians under his belt, finds it very easy to ask questions and engage in light conversation within the parameters of the masterclass setting.  

I took away so much from her wisdom as she listened, played, and interacted with the student bassoonists.  Much I will keep for myself in my notebook but some I wanted to share here for others to enjoy.  I won't get into the repertoire specific feedback she gave but instead share some of her more precious sound bites.

"You have to change the system.  Don't go back to what you are used to."

Good Air + Controlled Breath = Better Intonation

Regarding the pacing of dynamics, "You have to fight for all these things!
It's hard work but it's more interesting  and more fun for you to play."

"Singing helps us get back to natural music making.  We lose this
because we struggle with technical things."

"Always control yourself when practicing."

"Always look for the most natural, relaxed way to play."

Anyone who has seen Marion perform has likely observed that she sits with a harness.  She shared that it is actually a guitar strap to which she has added an O-ring and hook and wears on the right shoulder instead of the left.  As a student she always stood in her lessons and, to this day, feels that playing with a harness is the most freeing posture for her.  

I still need to make it a #lifegoal to sit down and chat with Marion about her career and dissect her reeds.  However, seeing her perform again and listening to her up close in the masterclass was absolutely inspiring.  After the masterclass I found myself smiling really wide and thanking her when in reality I wanted to hug her - which I learned from our German exchange student is not acceptable (Americans...).

I would now like to rebuild my playing from the ground up!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sister Crawford's First Semester

Here it is, one week left in the semester, and I have not updated my professional blog even once in the past 4 months. 

Last week was social media week in my Music Technology course and I heard myself saying things like...
If you have social media, you have to use it.
Consistent posting keeps your followers engaged. what I say, not what I do.  (The worst teaching strategy...ever.)

This has been an absolutely wonderful semester!  I have truly enjoyed every aspect of it: working with students, lesson planning, course design, writing tests, one-on-one consultations, faculty quintet, the bassoon studio, weekly masterclasses, guest artists, student performances.  It has been so much fun and an incredible learning experience.  

My Music Tech course student have to make a Vlog for their final project.  I decided to make one for them to gain the best sense of what I expect of them.  It's a snapshot of this semester and I think it captures all the many experiences I have had here in the BYU-I department of music.  

I doubt that a written summary can do better than that but I do want to collect some thoughts I was having as I walked back from the Faculty Women's Holiday Luncheon.  Little nuggets of wisdom that I anticipate I will use many, many more times during my time here in academia.

  • You can do hard things.
  • Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.
  • Undergraduate music theory is useful.
  • Doing things well requires work.
  • Yes, you will have to work...for the rest of your life.
  • The ability to practice is far more powerful than talent.
  • Procrastination is a student's greatest barrier to success - not a lack of intelligence.
  • Excuses are not reasons.
  • Being present is different from attending.  Both are required.
  • Communication is essential.

I think the students here at BYU-I are profoundly fortunate.  They are truly receiving a world class education for pennies on the dollar.  I wish I had been as savvy when I was 18/19/20/21 . 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"It's Shake-N-Bake and I helped!"

Ohhhh bassoon!  Despite all the low brass jokes, percussion harassment, and perplexed looks from flute players, the commercial value of bassoon has been BLOWIN' UP!

Have you seen these?

A young bassoonist and her poor mom trying to earn that last, sweet, ooey-gooey roll:

I don't even know WHAT IS HAPPENING in this one but I want to buy a VW:

"You don't have to be a talented bassoonist..." bassoonist = genius

Somewhere there is an arthritis commercial featuring a bassoonist.  I will have to find it and post later.

Now there is this whole indie, singer-songwriter trend happening.  And of course bassoon is the go-to instrument when trying to break into that market.

And how can we possibly forget all the amazing media around Rainn Wilson "The Bassoon King".

What am I missing here?  Have you found your own?  Share the link so I can get them all compiled into the most amazing list of commercial-bassoon-awesomeness!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Project: Values to Live By

One of the advantages of being a musician, like a public school teacher, is the opportunity to spend summers finding projects/work to inspire, learn, and grow.  Last summer, I took on the task of launching a successful fundraising campaign for the Chinook Winds.  Many musicians will find a home in various festival orchestras, returning year after year to make music in wonderful surroundings with a different set of colleagues.  Other musicians fill various music camps tucked away in woods and on lakes all over the world; teaching and mentoring young musicians at every level.  

This summer, in addition to moving to a new city and preparing to start a whole new adventure in academia, I have discovered myself in a most exciting project: The Ken Moses project.  (Title in progress.) This undertaking is a new tab on my blog and a whole new chapter in my life.  

Ken Moses was my very first bassoon teacher - and what a whopper of a teacher!  I think I knew, to a small degree, that I was fortunate to have been able to study with him in the Eastman School of Music community division.  But in the past 22 years, I have come to realize how unbelievably fortunate I was to have begun my training under a masterful performer and educator.  

Ken and I have been exploring his journey as an artist both, as an aid to me in preparing for my new position, but also in a deeply indulgent dream I have had, for more than two decades, to know more about him.  He has existed as a veritable man of mystery in my life and I'm truly overwhelmed that he has thrown open the lines of communication with me to allow me to ask him questions and hear his story.  

In the process of interviewing and transcribing our on-going conversation, I wanted to share some beautiful words he gifted me this past week.

These are the values he lives by and hold's himself accountable to and you can learn more about them at

    Vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is our greatest measure of courage. Vulnerability is at the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief and disappointment, but it's also the birthplace of love, belonging, innovation, and creativity - the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.                                        
    If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. Getting back up requires us to turn toward the truth of our struggle and look it in the eye. When we deny our stories, they define us. When we run from struggle, we are never free.                         
    We are all called to be brave with our lives and answering that call means choosing courage over comfort, choosing what's right over what's easy, practicing our values rather than professing them and leaning into our vulnerability.       

What I LOVE about these values is that they are obviously applicable to any person but especially to a performer.

If we applied these 3 values to each performance, how would that performance be transformed? If we applied these 3 values to our journey as musicians, how would our lives and careers be transformed?

Be vulnerable: to your audience! To yourself! Allow the moment to be a manifestation of your work without judgement of your human errors.

Be brave: take on the projects that seem impossible. Chose the repertoire you *think* you can't play. Ask for the help you need. Share your process/fears/triumphs with those who chose to listen. Be brave enough to take risks.

Choose Courage: to take an audition, to apply for a job, to go back to school, to ask for feedback. Choose courage rather than fear.

Ken's story, as an artist, educator, performer, and person is a gift. I'm enjoying the process of learning and following the path he is sending me down: discovering new music, finding old recordings, imagining exotic concerts and wild collaborations.

Being an artist is a life lived with vulnerability, bravery, and courage.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Audition Thoughts Part 20: From the Other Side of the Screen

Procuring a job through a competitive audition is a long process.

Ignore the exceptional outliers who win first auditions.

What more can I say?  What more needs to be said?

Well, quite a bit because we all need a little support and affirmation in this career.  As you can see in the pic above, mostly, we receive a lot of rejection.

This is your safe place, my friends.  I don't care how many auditions you have taken and lost.  Let me be the one to say that I am proud of you for going and trying.

The skill of auditioning gets easier with each audition.  Invariably, as you improve, so will your audition experience.  Unfortunately, the mental, emotional, financial aspects seem only to get harder.  You start to notice that candidates get younger and younger.  You feel greater and greater risks from those affected by your audition success (or failure) whether it is family or colleagues.  You question yourself more and more.  I think the ones who have the best outcome are those with a great support system, thick skin, and no better offers or an alluring Plan B.  

I was not part of the selection committee/panel for the principal bassoon and oboe auditions for GFSA/CW.  However, I did play in the final round oboe audition and observed the final round bassoon audition.  Being a part of the audition panel with the GFSA and the Billings Symphony for the past four years has allowed me to reflect and gain a whole new perspective.

Here are a few of my thoughts from the other side of the screen:

  1. Know the job you are auditioning for.  If it's a military band, you better nail the band excerpts not just the orchestral excerpts.  If it's a second bassoon job, you have to be great at playing second, not just a work-hungry principal.  If it has a large chamber music component, make sure you are totally prepared to sit down and make music with a few other musicians and no conductor.
  2. Present yourself!  Take a public speaking course.  If your degree doesn't require it, require it of yourself.  Join toastmasters, put yourself in front of people, get away from your practice room, BE DYNAMIC!  New professionals, seasoned professionals, ALL MUSICIANS have to be able to communicate away from their instruments.
  3.  The audition isn't just what happens in front of a screen.  Interacting with managers, administrators, community members - they are all watching, listening and talking.  Will an off-hand remark cost you an audition?  Not likely!  But your entrance into an organization can be smooth...or not.  Make it smooth.  
  4. Don't audition/apply for a job you don't want.  I have thought about this for a few years sitting on the other side of the screen and discovering, in subsequent rounds, that we were wasting our time listening to people who didn't want/couldn't take the job.  I am fully aware that all musicians take auditions without a full knowledge of what the job/pay/benefits may be.  What I find frustrating is going into a final round and discovering that a candidate has no way of accepting the position.  In my opinion, if you keep advancing through rounds and you know you can't/don't want the position, BACK OUT BEFORE THE FINAL ROUND!  Give that opportunity to a musician who wants to be there and don't waste the time of the panel.  
  5. The panel WANTS you to be good, they WANT/NEED to hire a great musician!  I have heard this many times as an auditionee and was skeptical because there are many auditions where no one is chosen or several are given trials.  For those actively on the audition circuit, this is very frustrating!  With more experience on the other side of the screen, I now have much greater appreciation for why this happens.  It's hard to listen to a lot of "good" musicians.  With each candidate you hope *this is the one!*  Musicians want to work with other great musicians.  We want the whole package: great player, great person.  We also want someone who is going to be around long enough to build something with.  There is a lot at risk in selecting someone after hearing them for only a few minutes.  Don't overthink your deficiencies/mistakes.  If you don't advance, or if you do advance but don't win, don't make it personal.  There is so much more happening there than you realize.  
  6. Move on!  Having taken 18 auditions and having been part of hiring musicians, I am more aware than ever that auditions are still pretty random.  Yes, you have to be a great player, have a great day, be a great person...and also hope the stars are aligned, the moon is full, the karma is good, and the energy is positive.  The more competitive a position, the more it comes down to minutiae that you, as the auditionee, cannot even be aware of and have no control over.  We all have taken an audition that felt like a make-or-break experience.  Maybe an audition that you simply wanted more than all the rest.  BUT MOVE ON!  If it's not for you, have faith!  I firmly believe that there is a purpose in all things.  Every audition is one audition closer to where you should be.  Don't give the audition power over you and your career.  Don't let a single audition make you or break you.  The best thing you can do as a musician whose employment depends on the success of an audition is: take many auditions, learn as much as you can, keep doing the work, and keep moving forward.  
Congratulations to all the oboists and bassoonists who came out to audition for the Great Falls Symphony and the Chinook Winds Quintet. Best wishes to each of you as you forge a path in this crazy career of ours!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Audition Thoughts Part 19: You Can Call me Sister Crawford

My Mom always said, "Let's clean up one mess before we start another."  To be clear, this almost always referred to baking projects in the kitchen and my career is not a series of messes.

However, I feel like I can apply the same wisdom here: let's finish one season before we start another.  I am still a little in shock that this is my last actual week of work with the Chinook Winds Quintet.  Part of this week I will participate in the audition process to replace both myself and our Principal oboe position.

Over the next several weeks my little family will be relocating to Rexburg, Idaho so I can assume duties as full-time, bassoon faculty for the BYU-Idaho music department.  Just to be clear, at BYU-I I won't be referred to as Professor Crawford.  Instead, you can just call me Sister Crawford.  I will also be starting every class I teach with a prayer!

But let me back track a bit and share the story of how I won my first, full-time, university position...

Last August our principal second violinist in the Cascade Quartet forwarded me an email from her bassoon colleague with the announcement that BYU-I was launching a national search for a new full-time, tenure-track, bassoon instructor.   Having applied for this position two years prior when they were looking to fill 1 of 3 different positions, I was a little skeptical about applying a second time.  I reached out to a colleague of mine on faculty at BYU-I and inquired about my deficiencies as a previous applicant.  He gave me the strong "thumbs up" to apply again.  Thusly, I submitted all my materials...again...

...except this time, I opened it up for revisions and edits by the three smartest women I know: my mom and my two sisters.  Clearly, that was the right decision.  By the time I submitted my CV, cover letter, resume, and other documents, I was feeling pretty confident about how I presented myself.  Well, at least fairly confident considering I have minimal experience in a college classroom, do not have my terminal degree, and had been appointed adjunct faculty at U of Montana only about 6 weeks prior.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained! 

 I proceeded from the "resume round" to a Skype interview.  The search committee asked about my teaching philosophy, my ability to collaborate, and my teaching experience.  What I found myself talking about was homeschooling and the many different things I have found myself teaching - without prior experience or professional qualifications.  When I first applied for this position, I was just beginning my second season with the GFSA and not yet homeschooling.  Mentally and professionally, I really wasn't in the proper place to take seriously the process of presenting myself to academia.  Two years later, a little wiser and a lot more experienced, I am pleased to recount that I was able to articulate very easily my teaching philosophy and my approach to teaching in areas that may be out of my immediate comfort zone.

In November, the week of Thanksgiving, I received an automated email from Human Resources informing me that the position has been rescinded by the University - uuuuugggghhhhhh!!!!  Happy Thanksgiving!

After lots of emailing and status changes, the position re-emerged from whatever place such things are decided but no longer as a tenure track position.  It's called a full-time, visiting artist position with a renewable, 1-year contract, up to 3 years.

I was invited (1 of 3 candidates) for an on-campus interview.  Oddly, in that sentence, it sounds like 1 interview.  In reality, the on-campus portion included:
  • 4 interviews
  • 1 theory class instruction
  • 2 private lessons instruction
  • 1 faculty chamber music rehearsal
  • 1 recital
It took 2 days, in the middle of January, in Rexburg ID - which is WILDLY more cold than Montana.  There were aspects that I felt really confident about: private lesson instruction, faculty chamber music rehearsal, 2 of the 4 interviews.  There were aspects that were not awesome.

What I did not expect was how much I learned in the process (about the school, the position, and what I had to offer) and how much I had to ponder upon leaving.

It was such a whirlwind experience!  The Chinook Winds had our 11th & Grant premier party late in the evening.  My husband and I left after that, drove 5 hours in snow and cold, got in to the hotel around 2 am, spent 2 days interviewing, drove back to Montana, subbed in with the Helena Symphony for 2 days, saw myself on TV in a hotel room, and then back home to GTF and off on a tour.

I then spent the next 2 months talking myself into and out of the job on a daily basis.  
  • If I get, will I take it?  
  • Well, I won't get it.  
  • But maybe I will get it!  
  • Then of course I totally want it.  
  • But what if I am horrible at it?  
  • I shouldn't take it, I have so much going on in Montana.  
  • I have too much going on in Montana.  
  • I HAVE to get off the road as a musician.  
  • If I get the job, I have to take it - for our family, for my sanity.  
  • Maybe I should just go back to school and get my DMA?  
  • Maybe if I get the job, and I'm good at it, and I like it, then I will go back to school and get my DMA.  
  • I should definitely take the job.  
  • But we will have to move again in 1 or 2 or 3 years!  
  • Morgan graduates in 5 years, that's 2 more moves.  
  • But what an opportunity!  
  • To teach on a university level.  
  • To work with students who are choosing to be there.  
  • To work with faculty who are passionate about education.  
  • To shape the next generation of educators and audience members.  
  • To mentor students at such a crucial time in their lives.  
  • I hope the job is offered to me. 
  • I will never get this job!

You know, the usual mind games of self-doubt, inadequacy, and fear that plague every hilly trained professional - especially musicians.  

In March, I was informed that I had progressed to the final step but it would take several more weeks to hear anything official.   

In case you have lost track, this is now 7 months into the process.  

 Orchestral audition: walk in, play, get kicked off stage = 7 min.  

Then things got REALLY intense because the time frame for hearing about the BYU-I position did NOT line up with the GFSA contract timeline.  THE STRESS!!  I'm certain I gained 10 lbs from mid-March to mid-April!

Thankfully, our executive director gave me a great opportunity to delay signing my contract but advertise my position as vacant with the option to cancel if I wasn't offered the position.  It was SUPER AWKWARD to see my position posted everywhere while not knowing if I was going to stay or go...and not telling anyone except for those who absolutely NEEDED to know.  I definitely got some interesting emails from inquiring minds.

The last few weeks of waiting were excruciating!  Not only did I have the GFSA and my colleagues in the Chinook Winds waiting but also the Billings Symphony and University of Montana.  I started to realize how many people depended on me but also how over committed I was and how much I really wanted (needed) this position. 

LOOONNNGGG story short: I got the job!  Obviously!  

It was a very long process but I needed that time to work out the BIG PICTURE in my head.  I have gained a whole new appreciation for my colleagues who have/are applying for multiple academic positions and how demanding that process is.  

Suffice it to say, I am very excited for this whole new world I am entering!  I know, I have a LOT to learn but I'm really eager to learn and develop so many new skills.  I think it will be a phenomenal opportunity to see if this is the direction I want to go in my career.  I think the school is incredible and undergoing a major transformation in educational innovation.  I'm excited to be part of that process and to mentor students as they gain relevant education for their careers and lives.

I know my family was meant to be in Montana these 4 years - and I'm so emotional to be leaving - but I also know that this is definitely the right and next step for us.

The WILD WEST adventure for this Bassoonist continues on...