Saturday, August 9, 2008

First jazz piano audition: Part 1

Well, I had my first ever audition as a jazz pianist two days ago. As I mentioned before, I’ve decided to take some music courses at my alma mater, the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I enrolled in jazz improvisation and jazz ensemble. In order to play in the ensemble, a student must audition with the director of the ensembles, to allow him to place the students in groups of a similar level and knowledge. It took me a little while to get in touch with the guy and schedule the audition, but I finally succeeded. As it would happen, my piano instructor, who also graduated from UAH, knows the jazz ensemble director very well, so I asked him to prep me for the audition during my lesson on Wednesday.

He told me that the director would probably have me play a ballad, so we worked on A Child is Born for just a little bit. Then he said, he’ll probably have you play a blues in B-flat, so we worked on Blue Monk for a little while too. Then, he’ll probably have you sight read something. Since we’d never played Tune Up before, we sight read that. Mind you, my instructor was giving pointers all along the way, so many in fact, I was having a little trouble processing them all. Then he says, for another sight reading practice, let’s look at Blue Bossa. Well, there was another I’d never bothered to look at, and even though I like Kenny Dorham, a lot, I’d never even heard the song. So, we tried to play it. I couldn’t do much with it, other than bring everything together at the final C-minor chord. (That made my instructor laugh a little.) It wasn’t long before my thirty minutes was up, and he summed up that I should just remember the key signature and play with confidence.

Due to things being pretty slow at work, we are trying to encourage everyone to use up their vacation and take unpaid leave, including salaried folks like me. So, even though I had planned to go to work early and leave early for the audition, I decided to just take a half day off and practice. I worked hard on Blue Monk and It Don’t Mean a Thing, which was going to be what I played if I had to audition without looking at the music. Both of those turned out to be wasted efforts.

Tomorrow: The Audition

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