I Didn’t Win, and That’s OK – ep. 19


(This is the list from the 2019 Chicago Symphony principal trumpet audition)

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This episode was interesting for me to put together. Half of me feels like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. There are thousands of people who have taken an audition and haven’t advanced, so I’m not trying to act like I’m special by any means. The majority of the auditions I’ve taken, I haven’t advanced at, so the result of this audition is pretty par for the course in my own career.

However, the other half of me realizes that there aren’t many resources out there that talk about how to “fail” at an audition. There was an article about a percussionist who spent a full year preparing for a Boston Symphony audition, only to have things fall apart when the audition actually happened. You can find that article here. Although that article gives some perspective on how much pressure can exist when taking an audition, there’s no real help to anyone who wants to take one. It’s frustrating to me, because it’s just a story. Maybe a good one, maybe not. But there’s nothing to take from it, it just makes it seem like the system of auditions that we have are too much to deal with. I don’t buy it.

I make an argument in this episode that we should reframe why we put ourselves in stressful situations to being with. Yes, we take an audition to win a job, but if that’s the only goal, then often it can feel like if we don’t win or advance, then it was all for nothing. So let’s all make an agreement that we’ll also do our best to push ourselves as musicians and players EVERY time we do an audition, a recital, a jury piece, a competition, etc. I wish I had started thinking more this way when I was younger, but I cant change that. I can only change how I move forward. I think if we are able to feel that we have improved through every stressful situation, we learn to embrace stressful situations, regardless of the outcome, because we know we’ll be better on the other side. You either win or you learn.


Here’s the Bruckner 7 performance that made me cry. Turn it up loud for maximum effectiveness.

I would also mention that the round was recorded with my iPhone. iPhones auto adjust the volume levels, so the volumes that you hear on the track aren’t necessarily the volumes that I played. I promise I didn’t play Schumann 2 louder than Ein Heldenleben..

Also, I edited the dead space between the excerpts out so it wouldn’t be so boring to listen to. Just wanted to mention that in case it seems like I rushed through the whole thing.

Until next time,