Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Stunning Sequel to my Story of Serendipity

Ahoy, mateys!

So, here's the continuation of that super-long post about how I came to be a composer. I'll start with my Junior year of high school.

After doing some songwriting as a Sophomore, I was still convinced that I wanted to be on Broadway, as much as I loved this new thing I seemed to have a knack for. Junior year came, and I found out about this thing called Nebraska Young Artist's awards. So, I tried out on saxophone and... Composition. I was still a bit confused about it, but I'd written some things for piano, and thought I might try sending them in... And turns out my crappy recording of my saxophone solo didn't get me the award, but my composition, where I'd never had a lesson, training, or even a clue of what I was doing, won. I was a bit shocked. I was even more stunned when I found out I was 1 of 3 people to win the award, after hundreds of auditionees in the state.

Yeah, like I said, I really didn't have a clue.

Senior year came, and for scholarships, I tried out with voice and composition at UNL, and voice, composition, and jazz saxophone at Hillsdale College (I also had a jazz voice audition with Harvard, but it was way too expensive so I didn't even consider it). I applied to about 5 schools, Drake, Harvard, Northwestern University, Hillsdale, and UNL. Hillsdale and UNL gave me the best scholarships, and I had the most difficult decision I'd ever made in my life trying to choose between the two schools. Because I'm incredibly anal, I made a spreadsheet comparing the pros and cons of each school, and... The points were completely tied. Hillsdale wanted me to be the lead singer of their faculty jazz band. UNL's voice auditions herded me through like cattle, and all I could do was my classical repertoire. Hillsdale let me have an interview with all 3 of the music departments I made it into... UNL only gave me an interview with the composition department. However, UNL gave me even more scholarships than Hillsdale did after my composition interview, and Hillsdale literally made up a scholarship to give me. What decided me was that composition interview at UNL, and Dr. Damon Lee's filmscoring class. Dr. Lee let me sit in on his class for music majors, and I realized that this wasn't only something I could see myself doing reasonably well at, but something I'd really enjoy doing.

Oh God, and my interview! That's a pretty entertaining story, especially for any musicians that might be chancing upon this. Dr. Lee and Dr. Richards had my scores, and asked me if I could play the music I wrote. Until I got to UNL, I'd only ever composed music for myself to play, so I said, "Of course I can!" After (let's be honest, I was embellishing a lot and showing off) I played the music, they covered up the piano and started to play intervals and asking me to identify them. Well, I'd never taken a music theory class in my life, and had no idea about the difference between augmented, diminished, minor, and major intervals and what classified what as each of them... So, I warned them and they said "Just give the number." So, they sat there playing the intervals, and I distinctly recall what I named them. "The 7th that's flat. A sharp 4th. Er... A half step. A major chord with a flat 9?" Turns out, I got all of them correct, even with my... Atypical naming system.

And so, I finally decided to come to UNL. I actually felt so bad about not going to Hillsdale (they REALLY wanted me. Aside from making up a vocal jazz scholarship for the first time in the school's 100+ year history, they gave me an accounting scholarship (ha!) and a scholarship that I'm pretty sure was actually supposed to be for boys...) that I wrote an apology letter to all the people who tried to get me to go to school there. There are some days where I regret my decision, but most days I'm pretty happy with my choice.

Especially now, that my semester project is done. Also, I think I'm going to get to sing with either UNL's big band or the Jazz Orchestra next semester, which is amazing. I'd thought I'd given up an opportunity like that forever when I turned down Hillsdale, but Dr. Richards asked me to sing with one of the ensembles, which is a HUGE honor that I'm still extremely grateful for. PLUS, I get to pick the song, the key, and I get to arrange it!!! (: I've never written for so many instruments before, but I'm sure with Dr.'s Lee and Richards helping me, I'll be able to get something decent out there.

So there's my pretty long story about how I stumbled upon a talent I didn't know I had, and how I know that if my life were the best ever, I'd get to make a living doing this for the rest of my life.

Today's song of the day: My Body by Young the Giant. This has been one of my favorites since early this summer, and I listen to it almost every day and can never get sick of it.

If you like this, I highly recommend getting the album. Every song in it is absolutely fantastic.

That's all for meow.
With love,

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