Play it in your sleep
Another trumpet related post this week. I'll preface by saying, this is not a pity-party post. It's a post warning you on not believing in the power of JET-LAG and what it really does to you. And the power of being really prepared for an audition or big performance. I recently played an audition that didn't go well. Not to sound cocky, but I found it shocking because I was prepared and confident going into it. It wasn't all bad, in fact it was mostly a good representation of my playing except for one excerpt. But walking out of the room, I knew it wasn't good enough. After taking notes about my day and the days leading up to it, collecting data to see what I could do better and or differently the next time, I realized what had happened, I was JET-LAGGED!!! That was the one factor that was different from my preparation and mock auditions to the day of the performance. That also made me think that I could play most of the pieces in my sleep and obviously there was one that I could not.
How do I know this was it? I flew from Hawaii to the East coast, west to east only five days prior. This gave me four whole days and night's sleeps in my new time zone which was 6 hours ahead of where I was. I knew this was dicey going into the scenario but I didn't really have a choice. Jet-lag 101 knowledge says you should give yourself one day for every hour you change time zones in order for your mind and body to adjust and be fully you. I know this. I've been living it regularly for the last 4 years living in both New Jersey and in Hawaii. This isn't my first time flying from Honolulu for an audition. I've done it many times and never "got caught" not being able adjust to my new time zone. But I've never not given myself the proper time to adjust. The Bulletproofmusician.com, Noa Kageyama has a great article about how to minimize jet lag to perform your best. Check that out!
I'm sort of my own science experiment. But we all are with everything we do. Over the years I've noticed what jet lag does to me. I'm slower to make decisions. I used to have issues playing in-time or finding pitch center on days I flew 11 hours, then sat down for a rehearsal when it feels like 2 am for my body. Or I go to warm up and my chops feel like chop meat because it's 11pm for my body. Recently, I noticed how much more refreshed and normal I felt two days after this latest audition. When I land on the east coast, I typically want carbs the first 24 hours I'm there. It's because your body wants to feel good fast and carbs make you very happy because your brain releases dopamine :) Another time I was in LA for a week prior to an audition in Charleston. At that time I had a difficult time flying East to West. My time in Charleston was 12 or 1pm. So my week prior on the Left Coast, I didn't allow myself to adjust to the time zone. Played mock audition rounds at 9 or 10am. So When I flew to the audition I played great and won!
Another factor that I couldn't make adjustments for is when I needed to play my audition. About 95% of the time, once I know when I'm supposed to play my round, I start playing a mock audition at that time everyday. I didn't do that this time. It would have meant playing a mock at 4:30am Hawaii time which wasn't going to happen given I needed to work late into the evenings the two weeks prior. I think I got this from Don Greene, the OG on all of this peak performance as pertains to musicians genre. If you haven't read Performance Success, or Audition Success, you really should! There are also tons of online podcasts and videos to listen to full of fantastic info.
And yet, another factor....the plan was to force myself onto the right time zone once I got to the east coast by waking up at a normal time, 7-8AM and be ready to play at 10AM. This didn't happen because I got a cold once I landed. So instead of forcing myself into the new time zone, I decided it was better to sleep as much as I needed to avoid getting sick. Sure enough, I wasn't sick at the audition.
There was repertoire on the list that I actually didn't know going into my preparation. I took my time learning a couple of them because they were difficult and I wanted to be in a slow tempo practice for as long as possible as to not rush learning it and have it fall apart the week of the audition. Yes I've made that mistake many times! So the week before the audition I finally had these two pieces ready to perform consistently well. I was confident and felt good about the whole process. In the audition both of these excerpts were asked. I nailed one but not the other. My take away was, yes I was prepared for normal circumstances. Normal being, having to perform it with a little pressure in a performance situation. But not prepared enough to perform under more pressure and nail it when I knew I might be effected by jet lag. So my new outlook is prepare to play it in your sleep!
The overall take away, Jet lag and auditions is no joke.
1. Allow one hour for every time zone you change.
2. Play a mock audition at the time you are given everyday prior to your actual audition.
3. When you are practicing performing, ask yourself if you could play X in your sleep? You'll figure the answer. It's kinda obvious.
4. If you are getting a cold prior to an important performance, sleep a lot so it doesn't escalate.
5. Know your mind and body. What works for some, may not work for you. Back in the day, Mr. Rogers told us, "You are special."