Yesterday was finally the State Solo competition for Alex! He did a great job...played with confidence and he was very poised. As we were walking to the room after he changed, he was saying, "I'm-so-surprised-I'm-not-nervous-I-expected-to-be-much-more-nervous-than-I-am-and-I'm-really-not-but-I'm-wondering-if-I-should-be-and-I'm-a-little-nervous-that-I'm-not-nervous...." This all came out without one breath between words. We assured him he was nervous.
It was such a nice day to be with just Alex. Knowing it would be a day full of sitting still and listening to bassoons and more sitting - quietly - and listening to more bassoons, we decided it would be better if the girls didn't come. It's always so nice to have one-on-one time with any of them, and this day was no different.
Before we hit the road for Ellensburg, we made a quick stop for "breakfast". Nothing like a little caffeine to calm the nerves!
We left town in the rain, went over the pass in the falling snow, and arrived in Ellensburg to sunny skies and wind. Oh, the wind. I could never get along with that kind of wind. On the upside, all Alex had to do was step outside and open his mouth and the wind blew in and oxygenated his tense lungs.
We listened to a few oboe performances so Alex could get a sense of how his 10 minutes would flow, then he changed and went to warm up. His bassoon teacher made the trip over to hear him play, so Alex was able to go through some warm-ups with him.
There was only one bassoon before Alex, and listening to that solo gave Alex full assurance that he deserved to be there. We knew with the first note of this other kid that Alex would not be 22nd out of 22. Bless his heart. And how did he get there?
Then it was Alex's turn, and this young man held his own just great. I think I say this a lot, but I really am so proud of him. He played great. Not perfect, but great. And to go there as a rookie and control your nerves in that environment is a great growing experience!
Here's the video of the performance. This video took a sweet forever to load, so please just click on it and listen to a note or two.
Such relief when it was over. This was the culmination of some very disciplined, hard work. We stayed and listened to a few more, and in my totally level-headed opinion, Alex really did great. Some of the people there left us scratching our heads at how they qualified to be there. I guess bassoon judging at the regional level is subject to great interpretation.
We finally saw the much-anticipated scores, and Alex got a "2" from all three judges, with a "1" being the highest possible score. A "2" is defined as "Excellent: An outstanding performance lacking only minimal artistic and technical characteristics. This would certainly be a "1" at the regional contest level." Agreed! The individual comments were very encouraging, very complimentary...and critical of the flat notes, which Alex completely agreed with. He was still disappointed that it wasn't a 1, mostly because that is the only score he's ever received.
THEN, we heard what a performance deserving a "1" at the state level sounds like. We heard a kid play the bassoon in a way we didn't even know a bassoon could be played. It was so phenomenal, and I wish we had recorded it. We were blown away. He's only a junior, and took 1st in the state last year. I'm sure he did again this year, although we didn't stay for the results. But Alex learned some things by watching, things he will tweak for when he performs a solo next time.
And here's a sweet picture of Alex listening to a message from Brenna. She had called to tell him she was proud of him and glad everything went well. I think this picture shows the love.
So, Alex, on behalf of the WMEA, the WIAA, The Dairy Farmers of Washington, Les Shwab Tires, AND YOUR PROUD PARENTS, I'd like to present you with this blog post in recognition of your participation in this year's State Solo Competition. Congratulations.
And on a serious note...congratulations, sweetheart. We are proud of you!