Numbers — by Jonathan Thomson

I believe in numbers. Part of what I love about running is that everything is quantifiable. I can track distance and pace meticulously throughout my training, and from that data predict my race time with alarming accuracy. By wearing an inexpensive device on my wrist, I can track my calories burned, activity throughout the day, and sleep (including deep vs. light sleep, and when I wake in the middle of the night). Through a free website (many are available), I can track my runs and see colorful graphs that can show how intricate relationships between distance, pace, rest, weight, weather, and wear on my shoes all add up to my overall running performance. My cello life can be less intentional. First of all, there’s no way to truly quantify "musical goodness." [...]

Two Minutes of Your Time — by Brant Taylor

Early in 2011, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will hold auditions hoping to fill two vacancies in our cello section.  In my twelve years of hearing auditions as a member of this ensemble, hundreds of cellists have presented themselves on our stage. Some have done so several times. Their audience is a committee of nine members of the orchestra who sit behind a screen in our otherwise-empty hall.  Some of us take notes during the performances, but the only thing that matters to the process is the simple "yes" or "no" each committee member marks on a blank index card after every player has finished. If a candidate receives at least six "yes" votes in a preliminary audition, he or she advances to the final round.  To those unfamiliar with the [...]