• Evan Clifton

I didn't win the audition...but it's perfectly okay.

Hi friends,

This past friday I took an audition for a military band and I made it down to the final two. Even though they didn’t hire either of us, I’m still over the moon. Here’s why…


My bout with Focal Dystonia back in 2016 significantly derailed every area of my playing, but especially auditions. As I’ve come back to playing in a healthy way, I’ve had a sort of checklist that included things like:


Play a full recital - ✅

Play a concerto - ✅

Be invited as a guest artist to a university - ✅


All of these are different playing related forms of validation from the outside world, but one that I was still chasing was… win an audition. I’ve gotten cut in the first round at every audition I’ve taken over the past three years. It didn’t matter what the audition was for, a small regional orchestra or a full time job, I didn’t get out of the first round or in some cases even finish the list for the first round.


Naturally, this was a huge blow to my confidence and I was seriously doubting if I would ever audition well again. In fact, six days before I took this military band audition last week, I was feeling a ton of stress and almost cancelled the audition and every other one that I had been preparing for coming up. But thanks to the help of friends and family, I powered through, showed up to the audition, and made the final two.


This is where I’ve been getting to… I’m completely over the moon because this is my first audition success of any kind after working through Focal Dystonia. And it hasn’t been my playing ability that’s held me back at all, it’s been entirely in my head. There were seeds of doubt that had grown out of control and prevented me from advancing. I fought through the massive self doubt and crippling anxiety and showed up. No, I didn’t win the job but honestly, that doesn’t matter. I won something more valuable than that… my confidence in auditions.


No matter the result of any audition or competition, it is possible to find massive personal wins that render the actual result of the event completely insignificant. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it takes a little bit of searching, but if you look hard enough there’s almost always something there.


Again, massive thanks to anybody who’s read this far. Hopefully me sharing my perspective has a positive influence on you in some way. This week, I'm doing something that I haven't done so far with this blog, share one of my own recordings at the end of the post. I seems fitting though, to share a recording of one of the other checklist items, the second movement of Wim Bex's piece "Vademecum" with the Michigan State University Wind Symphony and conductor, Tyler Austin. This was a performance from when I won the concerto competition as a graduate student at MSU and one of my next checklist items is to do a full video and audio recording of the piece with an ensemble.


MUSIC. It's good for ya.


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