The Conservatory Rejection Letters: How My Faith Improved My Performance

“Things are looking up, oh finally! I thought I’d never see the day when you smiled at me… I’d never trade it in, ’cause I’ve always wanted this and it’s not a dream anymore… it’s worth fighting for.”

And now everyone reading this knows I went through a Paramore phase. Well, my first week of sophomore year of college is going on right now, and let me tell you, some major stuff has been going down.

the conservatory rejection letters (1)

First things first, I had choral auditions this past Sunday. I had been dreading going to them, because I didn’t exactly look forward to seeing the voice faculty after what happened the last time they heard me. I even considered just not doing choir this year; however, I reminded myself that the worst that could happen is that I would be placed in the same ensemble I was in last year, so I figured I should just give it a shot anyway.

The audition went the same way they always go– I did some scales (I was really disappointed in the range I displayed; I expanded my range to a high C this summer, but did I even get above the staff at the audition? Nope), sang my piece (“God Help the Outcasts” from Hunchback of Notre Dame… and that is foreshadowing for something else), and did some sight-singing, which could have gone better, but also could have been worse, so, you take what you get.

After I finished my piece, one of the faculty members told me something along the lines of, “So I was at your audition last year.”

*panicking* Oh *insert obscenities* what does she remember I shouldn’t have come here why did I think this was a good idea I’m that person that people give as a bad example in lessons *insert obscenities*

“I must say, you have really improved.”

Huh?

“There’s something different about you this year, even in the way you carry yourself. You have come so far since the last time I heard you.”

At this point, I was sure I was dreaming, because when was the last time someone acknowledged my progress?

“Uh, well,” I started, “I’ve really been working on my performance anxiety and stuff…” I said other things, too, but I’ve mentally blocked out pretty much everything I said because it was painfully awkward.

“Well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

That surprised me.

I left the music hall choosing to believe the audition went well. Even if I’m placed in the same ensemble again, I thought to myself, there’s no denying that I’m getting better. So I’m going to choose to be happy with my performance today.

Well, lucky for me, this story has an even happier ending.

I got placed into the ensemble I wanted– Treble Choir! I also got placed into the vocal part that I requested (Alto II was getting way too low for me, so I am now an Alto I).

At our first rehearsal, each new choral member was partnered up with a veteran to discuss our goals, fears, etc. When discussing what made us the most nervous, I stated, “I don’t want to sound like trash next to you guys (er, girls).” My partner told me, “You wouldn’t have been picked if you sounded like trash. [Our director] chooses every girl in this choir because she sees potential in them.”

So… I don’t sound like trash, I guess.

In other news, I might get to be a part of the Hunchback of Notre Dame chorus at a local theatre company, and I placed into a pretty good music theory section (we won’t talk about solfege).

But why the sudden confidence? Why am I doing so well right now?

I believe I owe this to my faith in God. I just finished reading a book called Destiny and Deliverance (written by multiple authors, including Max Lucado) about the Biblical inspiration behind the DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. I love The Prince of Egypt. I can’t wait for it to get a Broadway adaptation (and it’s on its way– Casey Cott played Moses in a recent stage production of it. I’m pretty sure he’s not even Jewish, but whatever). Everyone who knows me knows that if they hand me the AUX cord and put one of my playlists on Shuffle, eventually the sound system will start blaring, and I will start shouting,

I send a pestilence a plague into your house into your bed into your streams into your streets into your drink into your bread upon your cattle on your sheep upon your oxen in your fields into your dreams into your sleep until you break until you yield! I SEND THE STORM I SEND THE HORDE THUS SAAAAAAAIIIITTTTHHH THE LOOOOOOOOOOOOORRDDD. Once I called you Brother, once I thought the chance to make you laugh was all I ever wanted I SEND THE THUNDER FROM THE SKY I SEND THE FIRE RAINING DOWN and even now, I wish that God had chose another serving as your foe on his behalf, is the last thing that I wanteeeed I SEND A HAIL OF BURNING ICE ON EVERY HILL ON EVERY TOWN this was my home. All this pain and devastation, how it tortures me inside. All the innocent who suffer from your stubbornness and pride I SEND THE LOCUSTS ON THE WIND SUCH AS THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN ON EVERY LEAF ON EVERY STALK UNTIL THERE’S NOTHING LEFT OF GREEN! I SEND MY SCOURGE I SEND MY SWORD THUS SAAAAAAIIITHHH THE LORD you who I called Brother, why must you call down another blow? I SEND MY SCOURGE I SEND MY SWOOOOORD let my people goooooo THUS SAITH THE LORD THUS SAAAAITH THE LOOOOOOOOORD you who I called Brother, how could you have come to hate me so? Is this what you wanted? *sick trumpet part in unison with the chorus* I SEND MY SCOURGE I SEND MY SWORD then let my heart be hardened, and never mind how high the cost may grow, this will still be so. I will never let

Your

People

Go.

THUS SAAAAAAAIIITH THE LOOOOOOORRRDDD

Thus saith the Lord…

I will not let

(let)

Your

(My)

People

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

“Hope, why did you just type all of those lyrics? We got the point after the first five lyrics,” you might say. And you’re right. All of that was completely unnecessary.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, the book being inspired by the film that must not be named, else this post will never end. Which, by the way, you should totally read it! I believe the book was written while the film was still in development, because sometimes they’ll quote songs and I’ll be over here like, “I’ve seen that movie and listened to the soundtrack at least two hundred times and I know they never said that.” So I think that’s pretty cool.

But back to the serious stuff (I gotta get to my point eventually… I’m supposed to tie this back to music somehow). I never realized how much I related to Moses until I had read that book. I have read Exodus multiple times, and I’ve seen POE several times as well. But Exodus isn’t exactly the (sorry, Moses) most entertaining book to read, because it’s slightly confusing. And long.

When Moses was at the burning bush, he was a changed man. He had been living a quiet life in Midian as a shepherd for about 40 years, he had killed a man (!) back in Egypt, and so I guess you can say he was kind of trying to run away from his destiny. So much so, that when God told him to return to Egypt to fulfill his destiny to free the Israelites, his response was a blatant “No. You must have the wrong person.”

Who says “no” to God? What kind of bravery…

So, naturally, God (in the movie) kind of starts yelling at him.

Who made man’s mouth? Who made the deaf, the mute, the seeing and the blind? Was it not I? Now go!

This point in the movie always kind of scares me, not in a monstrous kind of way, but in a majestic way.

How often in my life have I been Moses? I mean, at this point in the film, we’re all like, “You dun messed up.” Like, who says tells God He’s wrong? Who argues with God?

But we all have. The scary thing is that I have been praying for direction in my life. I have been praying about what to do about my career, and for the first time in years, I think I know what God is saying to me. And the frightening thing is, I think He wants me to stay at BW and try again.

But surely someone else can do the job. There are plenty of music therapists and teachers out there; why do I have to be one of them? They won’t want me. I’m not nearly as good as the other vocalists out there. Yeah, I have good grades and practice/study habits, but is it really enough? Besides, I’m not strong enough even if I am good enough. I get nervous. I’ll stutter (like Moses). I’ll shake. I’ll fail again, and I can’t afford to fail again.

But I am given peace when I remember what happens after this exchange.

“Oh, Moses. I shall be with you (…) I shall be with you, Moses.

The night before my choral audition, which I should not have been nearly as nervous about as I was, this kept ringing in my head. “I shall be with you.”

Even today, it keeps ringing in my head and nearly bringing me to tears. It brought me such an enormous peace as I was preparing for my audition and leaving it, knowing that I was not alone, that I did not have to repeat the mistakes I made last year.

I am terrified about what may happen to me these next few months. I know that I want to stay at BW now, but I also know what that means. If I want to stay, there is no getting around it: I will have to audition again.

So I don’t know what I will do. But whatever happens, I know that I can cast my fears aside, or at least try to. Because I know He will be right there with me, holding my hand.

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Lessons Learned Freshman Year: The Ultimate Packing List

I’m going back to college in a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited! Looking back on my freshman year, I have been making lists of what I used in my dorm last year and what I will need to take or leave behind this time around. Therefore, I thought, why not share this information with the incoming freshies? If you’re attending school in the Northeast, are an education major or musician, or just a girl on a budget, this is the list for you.

the ultimate college packing list

Everything you will need with you can be broken down into these categories: Supplies & Books, Clothing, Decor & Bedding, Hobbies, Toiletries, and Adulting.

The inner part of something; the inside. -the interior has been much restored-. Synonyms- inside, inner part, inner area, depths, recesses, bowels, belly; More antonyms- exterior, outsid

1. Supplies & Books

  • Highlighters
  • Thin-tip multi-colored marker set (Education majors; these are expensive)
  • Post-it notes and bookmark tabs
  • Construction paper (Education majors)
  • Black pens
  • Folders
    • One folder for each class.
  • Composition notebooks
    • I recommend one composition notebook for each class. Not every course you take will require you to take notes, but you can still use it to write essay outlines and make study guides.
    • These type notebooks are best for lectures.
  • Spiral notebooks
    • I recommend these for mathematics, music theory, solfege, and other lab-based courses where you might have to turn in your written work.
  • Crayons (Education majors)
  • Agenda/planner
    • The Day Designer is king.
  • Dry erase board/marker
    • I used this to write cute little messages for my roommate (e.g. “Going to Kent State for the weekend- see you Sunday!”) or to sit on top of the washer in the laundry room (“Waiting for a dryer- please do not remove my clothes!”).
  • Textbooks
    • There isn’t really a way to forget this. I added this to the list just so I could have an excuse to say that you should shop at Half Price Books. My tonal harmony textbook (which will last me two years) would normally cost over a hundred dollars. I got it for $12.
  • Calculator
    • I originally packed a TI-84 and didn’t need it. My college algebra class (that I tested out of in a week and a half) didn’t allow it, and my elementary school class didn’t need it. A normal calculator will likely suffice, unless you are a math major.
  • Tape
    • Masking tape
    • Clear tape
  • Laptop
    • ASUS is the devil! Cheap, but the devil!
  • Books
    • I tried to pack non-fiction and classics, with a few exceptions. And yes, I did actually have time to read. I believe I read five or six books last year.
      • Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 24-26
      • Pride and Prejudice
      • The Secret Garden
      • The Life and Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar
      • Morality and Contemporary Warfare
      • Anthem (Ayn Rand)
      • The Last Days of the Romanovs (Helen Rappaport)
      • The Romanov Sisters (Helen Rappaport)
      • Julius Caesar
      • Iris Has Free Time (Iris Smyles)
      • Of Mice and Men 
        • The only classic book that had me in my feels at the end. Like why did Steinbeck think that was… okay?
      • The Case for Christ (Lee Strobel)
      • I Am Malala
        • I read this book whenever I don’t feel like studying, and it motivates me again.
      • My Bibles
        • English Standard Version
        • New International Version
  • Devotionals
  • Journal
  • Headphones
  • Choir folder (Vocal musicians)
  • Pencils
    • Even if you hate pencils, you will inevitably have to take a scantron test.

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2. Clothes (what I personally packed)

  • Pajamas
    • 2 onesies
    • A few T-shirts
    • 2 pairs of soft pajama pants
  • Pants
    • 3 pairs blue jeans
    • 1 pair colored jeans (pink)
    • 3 pairs athletic shorts
    • 2 pairs black Spandex shorts
  • Undergarments
    • 7 push-up bras (I’m a B; don’t judge)
    • 2 T-shirt bras
    • 2 strapless bras
    • 1 backless bra
      • Didn’t need it.
    • 2 thongs (is this TMI? Probably)
    • Seamless underwear
    • Yoga panties
    • Period panties
    • Black tights
    • Brown tights
  • Shirts
    • Tank tops
    • Blazer (for presentations and field experiences)
    • Sheer shirts
    • Sweaters
    • Blouses
    • Graphic tees
  • Skirts
    • 2 maxi skirts
    • 1 pencil skirt (for presentations and field experiences)
    • 4 church-y skirts
  • Dresses
    • At least 10 sundresses… I own more dresses than all of my other clothes combined
    • 3 maxi dresses
    • Black dress
      • Floor-length for vocalists and cellists
      • Any length for instrumentalists
    • A few homecoming-style dresses, in case of attending any parties
  • Socks
    • Athletic
    • Fuzzy
  • Shoes
    • Black heels (Vocalists)
    • 2 pairs flats
    • 1 pair tennis shoes
    • 1 pair rain boots
    • 1 pair fashion boots
    • 2 pairs fake Uggs (hear me out: at 8 a.m. on a January Cleveland morning, these are like heaven)
  • Scarves
  • Belts
  • 2 coats
  • 2 hoodies
  • Jewelry

03

3. Decor and Bedding, a.k.a. the fun part.

  • Pictures, paintings, and/or drawings
  • Command Strips
    • These take more elbow grease to remove than you would think, so use them with caution.
  • Victoria’s Secret bags
    • Everything looks cute in a Victoria’s Secret bag. Cotton balls, nail polish, tampons…
  • Christmas lights (I’m basic, I know)
  • Magazines
    • I made a collage on my desk.
  • Washi tape
  • Shoe organizer
  • Footlocker
  • Rug
  • Long mirror
  • 2 sets of sheets
  • Comforter
  • Sleeping pillows
  • 1 sham pillow
  • Decorative pillows
    • Sleeping on a loft bed, I would highly suggest not bringing these. They made my bed less comfortable, if anything.
  • Stuffed animals
    • I had a stuffed Appa, Naga (Korra’s polar bear dog), and Minnie Mouse, and I was not made fun of for it. I lived.
  • Tiny table (to hold up a small fridge)
  • Blankets/Snuggie

04

4. Hobbies

  • Your musical instrument of choice
    • I brought my acoustic guitar because once again, I’m basic
  • Sketch book
  • Art supplies
  • Sheet music and anthologies
    • Even if you’re not a music major, at my school, anyone is allowed to use the practice rooms. Sometimes I’ll spend the night in the Con playing the piano.
  • DVDs
    • I brought:
      • Avatar: The Last Airbender boxed sets of all three seasons
        • These were the DVDs I watched the most. Otherwise, I mostly watched Netflix.
      • The Legend of Korra: Book One
      • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
      • Big Hero 6
      • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo
  • Crafting supplies
  • Fitness
    • Leotard (Gymnasts and Dancers)
    • Swimsuit
      • Even if you’re not on the swim team, check the pool hours for open swim.
    • Water bottle
    • Muscle braces
    • Earphones
    • Sweatpants
    • Wipes
    • Towel
    • Gym bag

05

5. Toiletries & Medications

  • Makeup (in order of how I put it on)
    • Concealer (a few shades lighter than my actual skin tone. I use white people concealer and I’m not afraid to admit it)
    • Brow liner
    • Foundation
    • Eye liner
    • Eye shadow
    • Highlighter
    • Powder
    • Blush
    • Setting spray
    • Mascara
    • Lip balm (you really should be using this at night but okay)
    • Lip liner
    • Lipstick
    • Lip gloss
  • Face wash/scrub
  • Toner
  • Moisturizer/lotions
  • Nail polish
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Curl cream, oils, whatever you put in your hair…
  • Hair ties
  • Shower caps
  • Bows, headbands, bandanas
  • Razor
  • Nair
    • You may think I’m crazy for this, but I use it on my eyebrows.
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair cutting scissors
    • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use normal scissors to trim your hair. Hello, split ends.
  • Cotton balls/Q-tips
    • You’re really not supposed to use Q-tips to clean your ears. I have temporarily lost hearing so many times because of this… and yet… I keep using them…
  • Shower gel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Flat/curling iron
    • I didn’t even bother packing this because I don’t use heat on my hair.
  • Blow dryer
    • Another thing I didn’t actually pack, but I figure some people might want to.
  • Sponge/loofah
  • Robe
    • Honestly, it was easier to walk back to my dorm wrapped in a towel. I was never there when fire drills happened, so I might have just gotten lucky. But yeah, if you’re not self-conscious about your body, you really don’t need a robe. Especially if you actually have your own bathroom.
  • Towel
  • Combs, picks, brushes…
  • Tweezers, whatever you use for hair removal…
  • Spray bottles
  • Deodorant
  • Pantie liners
  • Pads
  • Tampons
  • Medications
    • Nasal decongestant
    • Vitamins
    • Tums/Pepto
    • Acne cream
    • Naproxen/Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen
    • Excedrin
    • Insulin/meds that can save your life
  • Tissues
  • Perfume
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shower caddy

06

6. Adulting (a.k.a. the not as fun part)

  • Driver license
    • Even if you don’t bring your car, you still kinda need it…
  • Military ID (if applicable)
    • Where student discounts fail, military discounts save the day.
  • Vehicle registration
    • Remember to have this renewed by the birthday of whoever legally owns your car.
  • Social security card
    • An FYE classmate of mine had their parents mail their card to them because they weren’t planning on getting a job on campus. However, being a music major, they were required to provide their financial information so they could play for paid gigs. Luckily, I got my work-study job details handled at orientation, but this student wasn’t so lucky. Their identity wasn’t stolen, though, so it ended up okay, I guess. But yeah. Don’t mail your SS card.
  • Health insurance card
    • I ended up in the ER with chest pain, and this came in handy.
  • Laundry detergent
  • Hamper
  • Laundry basket
  • Car maintenance
    • Get your oil changed
    • Get your battery checked
    • Get your tires pumped
  • Parking pass
  • Fan and/or air conditioning unit
    • In my dorm last year, we had no A/C. I have allergies, so I applied to have a unit installed. Naturally, the university said my allergies weren’t “real” allergies and denied my request. How did that go for me? Well, I did actually get sick during week of welcome. And I was miserable. And hot.
  • Proof of military benefits (GI Bill, Chapter 35, etc.)
  • Food and cooking supplies
    • Apples (they like, never go bad or attract fruit flies)
    • Plastic forks/spoons/knives
    • Napkins
    • Straws
    • Juice/soda
      • Drinks in the dining hall are unnecessarily expensive, so bring a few cold ones to crack open with the boys. And I’m talking about soda.
    • Paper plates
      • My dorm last year didn’t have a kitchen (Baldwin Wallace students, just don’t live in Constitution, okay?), and I was not about to wash my dishes in the communal bathroom sink.
    • Peanut butter
      • Make sure your roommate isn’t allergic.
    • Chocolate
    • Candy
    • Pickles
    • Garlic butter, Chick-Fil-A sauce, ketchup, BBQ, etc.
    • Salt and pepper
    • Soul food seasoning, Lawry’s, Creole, etc.
    • Mug/thermos
  • Alarm clock
    • There were multiple times that my phone’s alarm didn’t go off and I paid the price for it.
  • Tax stuff…
    • I would say more if I knew anything about taxes, but I don’t, so…
  • Retail membership cards
  • Cash
    • Digital money can’t buy everything. I try to keep at least $30 cash on me at all times, especially since parking in Cleveland is expensive, and sometimes, you can only pay in cash.

…And that concludes this (very long) list! Do you think I missed anything? Tell me what YOU packed for college in the comments!