4 hours to a piano competition

10:00 Pharmaceutical Development class. Not too stressed yet. The audition's still pretty far away.

11:30 Class lets out early. I go photocopy my music and clean up the music I already have. I meet Sandy, a classmate, to go eat.

12:30 I get more and more nervous as I eat my duck over rice and young coconut. Thinking more about the audition. Not really listening to the conversation we're having. My mind is elsewhere.

13:00 We finish lunch. I'm sleepy and want to take a nap, but I can't. It's too cold and noisy on the couches at school. And I'm too nervous. I change into a gray pinstriped suit and go practice.

13:45 I meet my chamber music teacher and the violinist in my trio to play two pieces. I'm completely self-conscious as I play and bauble on both of the pieces I play for them. Rachel, my teacher, always has something positive to say, though, and complements me.

14:10 I play the other pieces for Marjorie, the violinist. Still feeling self-conscious, which is getting in the way of playing well.

14:30 I practice some more. This time, without self-consciousness. It's like I'm over myself, comfotable. The Bach Prelude and Fugue comes out naturally and flows without worry.

15:00 I spend the last 30 minutes before audition time drinking tea at the Scripps College coffee shop. I'm getting more and more nervous again, and I try writing to soothe my nerves. It doesn't help. Eventually, I just slouch into a plush couch, close my eyes and try to relax. Being calm in the face of a piano competition isn't supposed to be easy, I tell myself. So I concentrate on relaxing, letting go of the worry and self-consciousness, and it works. I do relax a bit.

15:25 5 minutes to audition. I go to the bathroom, fill a sink with hot water and soak my hands in it. It's impossible to do anything with cold hands, and the feeling of immersing my hands in hot water always calms me down.

16:00 The audition goes pretty well. It takes ten minutes for me to get settled in and for my nerves to calm down. By then, I've gone through the Bach Prelude and Fugue in C# major and the first movement of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata. Debussy's Reflets Dans Leau comes out like it never has, and I absorb into the music completely. I achieve the same kind of lush tonalities and beauty that I did earlier in the week and even I'm impressed as I play the last chords to the piece. The Rachmaninoff Prelude turns out well also.

So the final score for the audition? The Bach and Beethoven turn out worse than in practice, the Debussy plays better than it ever has, and the Rachmaninoff plays the same as it has in rehearsal. In the end, all the worry and anticipation and tension drains all the energy from me. And all I want to do is sleep.

In the end, it's the worry and tension that made the most negative impact on the performance. I know I was prepared and ready, I was just nervous. It took a while to get used to being on a stage in front of judges, but once that happened, I was set. I'll find out this week how I did. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.