William Short

William Short was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2012. He previously served in the same capacity with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Houston Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. William has performed as soloist with the Vermont and Delaware Symphonies, as well as the New York Classical Players. He is the bassoonist in the Gotham Wind Quintet.

A dedicated teacher, William serves on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University, as well as the Verbier Festival and Interlochen Arts Camp. He has presented classes at colleges and conservatories around the country and at conferences of the International Double Reed Society, for which he serves as an officer.

William has also performed and taught at the Lake Champlain, Lake Tahoe, Mostly Mozart, Stellenbosch (South Africa), Strings, and Twickenham Festivals. An occasional editor and composer, his works have been published by the Theodore Presser Company and TrevCo-Varner Music.

Committed to forging connections between audiences and performers, William's articles on the subject can be found on the MET Orchestra Musicians' website, which has been lauded not only by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, but also by noted arts consultant Drew McManus and prolific cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht.

William received his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Daniel Matsukawa and Bernard Garfield, and his Master of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins. He attended festivals including the Music Academy of the West, Pacific Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Verbier Festival. Additional major teachers have included Jeanine Attaway, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, and William Lewis.

Reader Questions: Avoiding Burnout

I'd love to hear your thoughts about maintaining an emotional connection with the music during the preparation process and wanting to play music at all by the end—keeping any musical freshness, really.

We’ve all experienced post-audition burnout. Auditions are such an intense (and frankly, unnatural) situation, for which we prepare so exhaustively, that by the end, it’s hard not to burn ourselves out. And to a certain extent, I think it can be healthy to take a break afterward. I love the beginning of the summer, when the bassoon goes into the closet for a couple of weeks.

The problem comes when the burnout lingers for an unhealthy amount of time, as mine did after my way-overdone college audition preparation. I think that the key to maintaining enthusiasm is carefully pacing your preparation so that you peak at the audition. If you arrive at your pinnacle too early, you actually stop improving, which isn’t just boringit kills confidence. When you reach this point, the only way to play better is to be better at your instrument, which is the kind of long-term improvement that takes more time (and variety of repertoire and experience) than any audition or performance can provide.

When I was preparing for symphonic auditions, I liked to have three weeks of intense preparation. For the Met, it was closer to six weeks, because so much of the music was unfamiliar. I’m fully aware that this is a lot less time than many (perhaps even most) people like to have before an audition, but it worked for me. It’s not necessarily any better or worse than others’ systems that have yielded results. We all arrive at our own timeline.

And this, I think, is the broader answer to the question of avoiding burnout. If you find a system of work that yields tangible, consistent improvement, trust it. Others won’t have the same approach, and that’s OK. Everyone who is successful in music has worked very, very hard at it in their own way. By trusting in our preparation process, we stand a better chance of maintaining enthusiasm and remembering why we’re in this (often trying) business.

Please send in your questions via the Contact page!