Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Still a Self-Proclaimed Musician

According to legend, I started my musical life in first grade. The director of the “young strings” program came to class one day and described her orchestra program for students in elementary school. Well, I was pretty excited. Both of my older sisters played violin, and I always wanted to play like them. I went home that day and asked my parents if I could join the program. My parents finally decided I was too young to begin such an expensive undertaking, especially if I would just get sick of it and give it up in a few days.
However, I have never been one to listen whole-heartedly to my parents, and in this case the benefit was immeasurable. I singed myself up for the class at age six. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Farlow, handing me a small, hideous sounding school instrument every other day, and she always asked, “Emily why don’t you have an instrument of your own yet?” I usually made up some lie because I didn’t want her to know that my parents were unaware of my activities.
Eventually, she called home. I remember my parents’ shock at my determination to play the violin. They agreed if I wanted to play that badly, they would buy me an instrument. I was ecstatic. I have continued playing violin ever since, and I still do. I even brought it to college with me.
My foray into orchestra led me to want to be involved in music forever. In fifth grade I entered the ISSMA contest for singers. I had never sung solo before and I was terrified, but despite my doubts I learned the piece, “Getting to Know You” and won a first place ribbon. It was then that I discovered how much I truly loved to perform. I loved to portray a character through song, and I placed first in the contest the following year as well.
Once again, I took matters into my own hands. I decided that along with violin lessons, I wanted to have private voice lessons. I had to sign myself up for lessons again. This time, my parents trusted my judgment. I began lessons with Barbara Horine, at my school, in seventh grade. I tried really hard. However, I never felt like I was enjoying my singing. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. My improvement was inconsistent and I knew I had not found my niche. Then, I tried out for the junior high school musical, Oliver!. I received the part of Nancy, and it was a huge scandal. A seventh grader getting the lead in the musical! The student body was really mad.
When I performed that role I realized what I had missed in my singing. When I was onstage, the music came to life. The music and I became one in the same. I loved the expressiveness of the theatre. I loved entertaining the whole auditorium. The musical was a huge success, and I managed to make a name for myself before entering high school. Since then, I have performed in many musicals at school and in the Indianapolis community.
The theatre made me relate and embrace the passion found in music. Suddenly, I wanted to do everything. I started to play the guitar, and later the piano. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get enough music in my life. Whether it is just sitting in my room listening to rock, or attending an opera, I love the concept of performance. I love being part of a room full of people who are all swept away by the beauty of music. To me, music is truly a way for souls to connect.
It was very hard for me to find the “right” school for myself. I had a great difficulty with many college's programs because the university or conservatory predetermined the kind of performing done. During my senior year, I auditioned at ten different schools, which meant I missed a lot of school. In retrospect, it is very funny that I auditioned at DePauw first and ended up doing a complete three-sixty and coming here in the end.
I was convinced at age seventeen that I belonged in a conservatory. I wanted the best vocal training, in the classical technique, and I wanted to really zone in on my music and perfect it in everyway possible. I was admitted to all of the conservatories where I auditioned. But, I came to find out that conservatories only give you, at best, an incredible teacher with amazing connections. In general, productions were for graduate students, their facilities were pretty run down, and they had this strange claustrophobia hanging over everyone.
I then decided to look into the universities with conservatories and see if they could offer more. I ended up narrowing my decision to SUNY at Purchase, NYU, and DePauw. Honestly, for a while I didn’t even consider DePauw an option because it was so close to home, but I kept it at bay for my parents. It was not until I visited all three schools again that I realized why I was going into college in the first place. I was eighteen, and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I thought that since I knew I wanted to perform that I had a leg up on everyone else. I might have had a toe. When it came down to it, I was going to school to figure out how to channel my passions. I could not go to the SUNY College because it was strictly opera, and what if I decided after four years that I wanted to do musical theatre? I would be out of luck. I could not go to NYU because their classical voice program was lodged between theatre and opera so really neither was experienced. DePauw, however, was not a conservatory or a university with a renowned theatre program and an obscure music program. Instead, it was just a place with opportunities. It did not promise connections or immediate results, but it did promise that I would be sure of my place in the music world.
Admittedly, I received a lot of grief from my high school about picking DePauw. They thought I had wasted an entire year. However, I came to realize that my place as a musician was blurry. I was not mature enough to dedicate my life to one for of the musical arts. All I knew then, and what I know now, is I am improving, immersed, and eventually my place will come.


The Old "Self-Proclaimed Musician"

5 Comments:

At 9/17/2006 3:49 PM, Blogger iheart-t-ravs said...

Wow-it must have been rough auditioning at ten schools. I was irritated with missing school to audition at three! I like how you explained how you chose DePauw-your take on the musical college experience is great.

 
At 9/17/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Becca said...

I forgot to mention theatre in my life! Oh well, we've plenty more drafts yet, right? I understand what you said about theatre being a big influence for you. The ability to tell a story and create a character is so important and intriguing, especially for us vocalists.

 
At 9/17/2006 7:37 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I never knew you played guitar and piano, your maybe I didn't read well enough the first time. Good job.

 
At 9/17/2006 8:25 PM, Blogger Mistuh Bond said...

Yes, the legend of Emily Rose is true (that could be another movie, eh? first the exorcism of and now the legend of). Anyway, it seems to be a recurring theme amongst singers with the whole theatre thing. Why is that?

 
At 9/17/2006 11:06 PM, Blogger Vera Lynn Waters said...

Your conservatory paragraph shows that you really did your research before finding what it was you really wanted to do. Not to mention, I'm glad you didn't go anyway. You're definately better off here... with me.

 

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