Grad School Auditions: Check

I am officially finished with grad school auditions!  I feel so content, almost relaxed, now that they are all done.  Although there are many big things to be working on now – not the least of which is my pre-recital hearing next week – none of it seems to compare to the preparation and nervousness of the last few weeks.

I had two auditions this weekend: one at UNC Greensboro and the other at UNC School of the Arts.  Luckily, my friend Emma lives in Charlotte, so I imposed on her family’s hospitality and gratefully accepted the offer to stay at their house for the weekend.  From there, it was a manageable hour to an hour and a half traveling to Greensboro and Winston-Salem for my auditions.  Being around people I knew and not having to deal with the extra burden of finding a hotel to stay in was a relief.  After everything else that I was dealing with in those two days, it helped me relax quite a bit knowing where I was going to sleep, and having familiar faces around.

So, the big question now, I suppose is: “How did it go?”

One of my great challenges: the runs in "Parto, parto" from Mozart's 'La Clemenza di Tito'

Well, I had a good experience at both locations: I liked both campuses (and found them easily, thanks to my friend Rachel’s GPS that I borrowed!), the judges and other facilitators were friendly, and I sang well.  It’s a satisfying feeling to walk away from an audition and know that I couldn’t have done much better.  The aria that I was most worried about (Mozart’s “Parto, parto” from La Clemenza di Tito) turned out to be a personal best performance!  I never sang those long, complicated runs as well as I did on Sunday, and I am so proud of that.  I also did my sight-reading perfectly and easily on Saturday, which boosted my confidence.

I think the only small mishap involved my preoccupation in driving to UNCSA on Sunday – I was so absorbed in my thoughts, running lyrics, and warming up that I didn’t notice my gas tank quickly emptying.  Finally, my gas light went on about a minute before I reached the campus, startling me and causing me to make a detour through Winston-Salem to find a gas station.  After driving for a few minutes through the city and not finding one, it finally occurred to me that I had a GPS, which has the capabilities to find something like, say, the nearest few gas stations.  After trying the first three that came up on the GPS (all of which were closed or non-existent), I happened upon one and breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled in to fill up.  This small crisis certainly didn’t help my nerves, but it is easy enough to laugh at it now.


The music building at UNC Greensboro - my second possible home next year. (from their website:

After everything, I am left with one definite rejection, one probable acceptance, and one totally ambiguous.  UNCSA had call-backs last night, which I wasn’t asked to stay for, but I’m okay with this.  For one thing, it is nice to know for sure, even though the result is negative.  Plus, it was a great experience to get a little bit of a feel for a conservatory, and to be in the presence of so many talented, aspiring opera singers who share my passion.  So now I’m waiting for word from Converse and UNCG; the former seemed quite positive when I auditioned, and I have no idea what the latter thought.  Regardless, now I just have to sit back and wait, and do more of that simple thing called “schoolwork”. . . piece of cake, after three grad school auditions in two consecutive weekends.

Crossing Cultures

I had a unique experience yesterday evening of connecting three languages by watching one movie.  Last fall, Erskine started a French club with the purpose of infusing Due West with a little Francophone culture.  Although I am not part of the group, I have enjoyed attending a couple of their events this year, which are open to everyone on campus who is interested.

Last night, they hosted a viewing of the 2009 movie Coco Avant Chanel, which explores the early life of fashion icon Coco Chanel.  In addition to the excellent performance of Audrey Tautou as Coco, being a good movie overall, and my growing knowledge of French (though still quite limited), I was also seeing the movie for the second time.  While I was studying abroad in Spain this movie came on television and I watched part of it – dubbed in Spanish – with my host mother.

Seeing it again yesterday was such a strange, yet exciting experience; the first time I saw it in Spanish, and this time I listened to it in French and read the English subtitles (my French is not quite good enough to know what is going on without them).  Watching brought back memories of Spain, and it was fun to see it again – in its entirety – and add a new perspective to my previous experience in watching it.

It’s funny how aspects from one part of your life can suddenly pop up in another part, interconnecting your experiences.

The Misconception of Due West

One of the first things people realize when they enter Due West is the fact that it is small. This is an obvious feature of our town so we might as well address it openly and quickly. Therefore, one of the first things people assume is that there is nothing to do here. WRONG! I find that I actually rarely have a spare minute on campus. Yes, I have done some of this to myself by joining too many clubs and volunteering for too many activities, but nonetheless, Erskine is a busy place. Somehow, one has to find time for academics, physical health, a little fun, and oh yeah…some sleep!

Academics are the most obvious things to make time for because they are mandatory. (Hello, that’s why we came here!) However, unlike many colleges where classes involve lectures in auditoriums filled with hundreds of students, Erskine is much more interactive. Especially once students have begun taking their major classes, they find that class sizes are small and allow for much more hands-on activities. For example, I am an education major and most of my classes range from six to ten people. This past week, in my Social Studies for Teachers class, we were able to make a model of the South Carolina regions, demonstrating activities we could do with our elementary aged students. Through this, we learned the struggles they will encounter as well as techniques and questions to add to our repertoire of teaching methodologies. In addition, our class traveled together this weekend to Columbia to attend a Geography Workshop where we met with other pre-service and in-service teachers to learn exciting new lessons and innovations for the classroom. Even better, I won some free maps!

Tonight, my physical health and fun were able to come together as I participated in my first ever intramural game! Our basketball team attempted to work some magic, but came up a few points shy. After trying to catch my breath for an hour in order to write this, I realized I did have a great deal of fun. However, other fun an exciting events that have occurred lately have involved my first round of tree golf as well as a “masquerade” (a semi-rave with masks) hosted by one of the societies. I will pretty much use any excuse to dress up hideously in too much neon.

Sadly, sleep hasn’t happen too much lately, but I am happier than ever. As a junior with many friends who are seniors, I am beginning to realize that not much of my college time is left. I fear I may have wasted a few semesters, so I am determined to enjoy this one to its fullest, especially since I will be student teaching next year. See, there are things to do in Due West. The challenge is…to try and find a day without something to do!

Grad School Auditions: Part One

Wow.  This morning I had my first of three grad school auditions, and I ever since I got back to Erskine it seems surreal – did that just happen?  It went well, but I think what makes it seem so hard to believe is that after so much preparation it was over so quickly.

Blackman Music Building at Converse College - one of my prospective homes next year (from their website:

Last night I went to bed exceedingly early for a Friday (10:30!), and I left at 7:30 this morning for Spartanburg, where I auditioned at Converse College for their Masters program in Vocal Performance.  I arrived in good time with a little over an hour left before my audition, so I was shown to my practice room where I leisurely warmed up and ran through my repertoire before being summoned to the audition room.

I met my accompanist a couple of minutes before, and we went right in for my audition.  I sang, then sat down for a brief interview with the faculty judges, and it was over – a short ten or fifteen minutes later (I was too preoccupied to keep a very accurate measure of the time!).  I lingered for a little while longer, walking around the music building to get a lay of the land and talking with a couple of professors.  Finally, there was nothing left to do but drive back to Erskine, and I even made it back in time for lunch in the dining hall.

The whole trip took only five hours, all of Saturday morning, and that was it – now I just have to prepare for my other two auditions next weekend and wait for a reply.  The whole process of applying and auditioning for grad school is a rather nerve-wracking, yet exciting, experience.  Like many things in life, there is a long period of preparation, then the time finally comes and it is over.  It is nice to be partially finished, though, especially since I am satisfied with my performance today.  If I can perform equally well at my two auditions next week, I don’t think that I will worry about where I get in – I will have done the best that I could, and I know that I will end up where I am meant to be.  What a good feeling.

A Well-Rounded Workout

During my senior year of high school, I ceased—for the first time since elementary school—to play team sports, and as a result, I essentially went an entire year without exercising. Upon arriving at college, however, I quickly discovered (epiphany!) that exercise was an essential for a balanced, healthy life. Having two gym facilities within five minutes’ walking distance has been the clincher, and I’ve gone to the gym regularly ever since.

Certainly, one might make the argument that college life simply does not allow time for exercise. What I’ve found, though, is that a few hours a week in the gym serve as an invaluable stress reliever which both relaxes and invigorates me, enabling me to study more effectively and efficiently when I do sit down to work. Of late, the gym has offered a couple of other unique attractions—one has been helpful instruction on workout routines, and the other, the opportunity to practice Spanish.

You see, when I go to the Galloway gym across campus, I often run into friends who are athletic training majors. This turns out to be of great benefit to me, because they often stop what they’re doing to show me how to do a particular workout more effectively. Often, they even go into a detailed explanation of the physiological bases for their advice, which proves quite instructive and fascinating.

My time in the gym has also been especially interesting lately due, in large part, to my time in Spain last semester. The reason for this is that many of Erskine’s athletes are from Spanish-speaking countries, and so I often run into them at the gym. While before studying abroad, I might have ventured a timid hola, my experience overseas has given me both more courage in speaking and a greater ability to identify with students studying outside of their native countries. As a result, I’ve lately gotten to have a number of conversations in the gym with friends from Puerto Rico, Spain, and Peru. Thus, I’m able to get both a physical and intellectual workout all at once. And now, off to the gym!

Loving Your Neighbors

In the middle of a busy schedule and with all the accoutrements of Valentine’s Day going on around campus yesterday, a small group of students got to do something unique.  Members of the Fleetones, our male, student-led a capella group, and most of the cast of my J-term jazz show walked over to the retirement center in Due West to sing for their Valentine’s Dinner.  The Fleetones and jazz group alternated singing love songs to the residents, hitting such classics as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (The Andrews Sisters), “For the Longest Time” (Billy Joel), and “I’ll Be Seeing You”.  Another group on campus, the Athenian women’s literary society, served them dinner after the performance.

The entertainment only lasted about 45 minutes, but it was such a pleasure to be able to serve the residents, because they were so appreciative and clearly enjoyed the performance.  On a day like Valentine’s Day it is easy to get too wrapped up in your relational status – either a special someone or feeling like you don’t have someone to celebrate with.  Singing was a reminder that love comes in many more forms than just the romantic, and we all exchanged a great, warm love with the sweet men and women for whom we performed.  What a great reminder that this holiday is not just for romantic relationships, but for everyone special in our lives, including the One who loves us more than anyone else could.

However you celebrated, Happy Valentine’s Day!


An Erskine Favorite: Movie Night

One of our favorite things to do at Erskine when we have free time (or just want a break from studying) is watch movies.  Many students invest in the small monthly fee for a Netflix subscription, but even if you don’t have this service one of the great things about living with hundreds of students your age is that there are plenty of movie collections to make use of!  Although I have a pretty good little case of movies of my own to choose from, if I want something different or have a certain movie in mind, all I have to do is ask my roommate, the girl down the hall, or a friend in another dorm to borrow a DVD, and I’ve got a new movie to watch.

Yesterday was a movie night; it was Saturday evening with nothing but homework to fill my time, so a couple of friends came over we popped in not one, but two movies in a row and made ourselves comfortable on our futon.  First was one of the most frequently watched movies on campus right now – Despicable Me.  Such a fun movie!  After that, we moved on to a classic, The Little Rascals.  Regardless of our age, college students seem to love watching children’s movies – and how can you not love them?  They are funny, cute, and full of little jokes and allusions that you never would have understood while watching them as a child.  Plus, every movie is more fun to watch with friends, so it’s an inexpensive and entertaining way to spend your free – or not so free – time.

Where Have I Been?

Where have I been? The answer is…not at Erskine! That’s right, I used Erskine’s unique J-term opportunity to pursue interests outside of the classroom and spent the month at home. Okay, now before you go there, I did do some work. I promise. However, I was able to do work in a setting much different from the college atmoshpere and gain a new perspective entering into the spring semester.

In case you are unsure of what I am talking about, J-term or Winter Term as some may call it, is a one month semester taking place during the month of January. Rather than beginning a full spring term after returning from Christmas, here in Due West students take this month to take only ONE class. These classes are typically unrelated to their majors and range from Music Videos and Cinema to Math Puzzles and so much more. In addition, January offers unique travel destinations to places such as New York and Italy! However, I chose to do none of those this year.

After the Christmas lights were taken down and all of the presents were put away, I began researching areas in my field, Education. While at Erskine, I have had plenty of chances to take classes and spend time in the schools with students, but I wanted to spend January looking into specific areas of interest and sharing them with professionals. Therefore, I spent the month exploring the topics of collaboration, service learning, and technology before presenting them at teachers’ meetings at local schools. While I will admit this was somewhat intimidating, it was also extremely rewarding. I was able to see what a difference I could make in my community while also gently stepping into the world of professionalism. Even better, I got three hours of credit for this! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my month.

Does this sound exciting to you? Or perhaps it is rather boring? Either is okay! Many more opportunities like mine exist and Erskine can help you find them. Through internships, externships, and research opportunties, if you are willing to work, you can find a way. So now, I am back and well into my second week of the spring semester. I am sure I will have some intersting stories so be sure to keep looking…there is more to come.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

This afternoon I turned in a rather interesting first assignment for my Research & Criticism class (the final course for senior music majors) – my musical autobiography.  I had to write about several events, people, or other experiences that have helped develop me into who I am now as a musician.  It was interesting to sit down and think about all the causes, since I was little, that have led me to where I am today; putting all this into a narrative, though abbreviated, gave me a new perspective of how profoundly everything affects us, even when we do not realize it.

The more I mulled over and analyzed these events in my life, the more I was struck by what a marvelous plan God has for me, putting all these elements in place to bring me to where I am.  At twenty-two years old, I have found my passion in music, my dream of where I want to take it, and my motivation to work hard to get there.  I have been blessed along the way with so many supportive teachers, and had countless opportunities to learn, grow, explore, and perform.  What a comfort to trust in the Lord and His control over our lives – to be able to see it clearly once in a while is a convicting experience.

So, with this new comfort and renewal of faith, I am determined to worry less about my impending grad school auditions, and focus more of that energy on doing what I can to prepare – He will take care of placing me where I need to go, as long as I stay open and trusting.


“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.  When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me. . .”

The Game’s Afoot!

Finishing off my Saturday, yesterday evening I headed down the road to Abbeville Opera House with a couple of friends to see a play, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily, directed by the professor of my acting class this semester, Michael Genevie.  When we found our seats, I opened the program to see that one of Erskine’s own, Dr. Brad Christie (English and Theatre professor, now the Dean), was playing Dr. Watson!  We enjoyed the suspense and humor, remembering our own experience last spring when Erskine put on a series of short Sherlock Holmes plays for dinner theatre.  After the show, we walked just around the corner from the opera house to Main Street Coffee Co. for some sweet treats (I had a delicious cinnamon bun) and coffee before heading back to Erskine.  It was the perfect end to round off a great Saturday.