MUSICAL MUSINGS: The exquisite pain of Youth Symphony auditions makes me nostalgic

I remember my first Youth Symphony audition well—I was 10 years old, and, even though I’d been taking violin lessons for six years, I was more nervous than I’d ever been before.

I’d never experienced an “audition” and was sure that they were for only really good players, which I knew I wasn’t.

Therefore, I felt like a fraud, acting out some elaborate scheme that would get me into the Symphony. But I soon realized that my role in the whole affair was more aligned with “guinea pig” than “con artist.”

After arriving an hour early, I was told to go to the fourth floor of Sac State’s Capistrano Hall to practice. So I boarded the immense elevator with a few other unfortunate students and found an empty practice room.

As I pulled out my worn copy of Oscar Rieding’s “Concerto in G Major,” I began to seriously reconsider (as any 10-year-old would) my life decisions. I made a vow that I would never again audition for the Youth Symphony: the whole ordeal was too stressful.

So, knowing that audition would be my last, I went back downstairs and waited with sweaty palms and chattering teeth for my name to be called outside the audition room.

A few months after the audition, my parents got a call from the Youth Symphony asking if I would be willing to join the more advanced Classic Orchestra. (I had auditioned for the lowest orchestra at the time: the Vivace Strings.)

My parents said yes, sending me into a spiral of gloom—in no way was I going to be allowed to keep my no-audition promise now.

Seven years later, I’ve just completed my final Youth Symphony audition. But instead of feeling grateful, I’m actually a little sad.

Of course, my 10-year-old self was right about the high stress levels that auditions bring about. But the relief and sense of accomplishment that come afterward are well worth it.

As crazy as this may sound, I’ll miss the sleepless nights spent worrying about tone quality and spiccato as well as the frantic texts sent from the practice room as I look for reassurance from my friends that life will go on even if I choke.

So it is with surprising nostalgia that I bid adieu to Youth Symphony auditions. Hopefully, we shall never meet again.

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