Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, October 01, 2006

autobiography take 3

I'm the only musical one in my family, which can sometimes be difficult. My dad played clarinet for a while and my older sister played it in middle school, but neither one of them took it really seriously. My mom did some shows in high school and danced, but she never took it seriously either. We're a big sports family-ESPN and FSN are the T.V. favorites in our house. However, I can thank my dad for bringing me up on jazz-I lived off Bette Midler, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra in preschool. I even sang Bette Midler for my preschool talent show. Kind of ironic since she's an alto and I'm a soprano...
Anyway,my acting debut came in 2nd grade with a class play at Thanksgiving about some kids and a magical scarecrow; I was the scarecrow. But those ended with the progression to 3rd grade, so I started singing at Mass, since I had to go to liturgical music as a class, I figured I better put my knowledge of the music to good use. I learned the extreme basics of music in music class and got to sing a little in that-I loved it. I picked up handbell choir in 5th grade and really started to learn how to read music through that. Even though I had to give up my recess time nearly everyday to practice, I didn't care; I loved playing and learning the music. Finally the music department started an actual choir and I did that in 6th grade. Sadly, not everyone was interested in bettering their musical skills.
Thank the lord my mom found auditions for the St. Louis Symphony Children's Choir and talked me into trying out. I made it directly to the second level, Chorale; pretty good for someone who never took singing seriously.I dropped chorus at school and dedicated my time to SLSCC. I LOVED it! My director was awesome and I was thrilled beyond belief to find so many other kids who actually WANTED to sing. Plus, I found people to compete with, and being a very, VERY, competitive person, that was pretty sweet. Back at school, the sixth grade play rolled around: Little Red Riding Hood. Being one of the only ones in my class who could actually sing, (that and being the shortest one) I got the title role. Even though the show itself was awful, I thrived being on the stage. Not so much with the acting, but the singing. I knew I wanted to be a singer, but I didn't know how much.
My life pretty much changed in seventh grade. At the end of my first year with SLSCC, my director kept me behind after rehearsal one day and asked me to sight read a piece. Even though I had never done it before by myself like that, I somehow just knew how far up or down to go by looking at how far apart the notes were. He told me if I was willing to take a music reading class, I could move up to the next level choir since my voice was already there. (side note:SLSCC is REALLY big into being able to sight read music-even more than vocal ability alone) So my mom agreed to let me take the class and I got to progress. One of the best decisions of my life. Not only did I love learning how to sight read music on solfege and all that jazz, but it has helped me SO much I can't even begin to tell you. Then, the greatest thing ever happened: my choir and the level above me were chosen to participate in the National Children's Choir Festival that April. Okay, here's what that meant-SLSCC-NEW YORK CITY-CARNEGIE HALL. Carnegie Hall!!! I couldn't believe it-my parents said I could go if I paid for half the trip. So I did everything I could to raise my half of the money. So in April 2001, under the direction of Henry Leck and Malcolm Daglish, I performed in Carnegie Hall. Words can't even describe what it felt like. Sure I had been performing in Powell Hall in St. Louis several times a year, but it has nothing on Carnegie. The 11 1/2 hours of rehearsal in 2 days kind of sucked at the time, but looking back, it was all worth it. I loved rehearsing with choirs from all over the country. There's something about a huge group of people coming together with the same purpose-to make music.
When high school came around, I auditioned and made it to the highest level of SLSCC, but I couldn't do it because of softball. I loved singing, but sports have always been a huge part of my life and I'd dreamt of playing varsity softball, so I chose that. But I did have freshman chorus and music class where I learned the recorder and basic piano. Christmas time came around and I got a solo! I was the only one not taking voice lessons that landed one. I also managed to get one in the spring concert as well. That summer I was going to take violin lessons because I didn't have time for them in grade school with sports-and I had secretly dreamt of being a musician. But I knew I wanted to audition for my school's chamber group that fall so I asked my teacher what a good song to prepare would be. He asked why I wasn't taking voice lessons and talked me out of violin and into voice-I owe that man so much.
I made it into the St. Joseph Academy Frontenac Voices as a sophomore-a big deal at my school because the vocal program was such a big deal. We met an hour before school every day to practice and I loved every minute of it. The waking up at 5:45am to get there didn't bug me after a while. I was happy to get up and start my day with singing. I had found my place among the upperclassmen. I auditioned for All District choir and made that as well. It was my favorite thing to do-mostly because I got to sing with boys, which is a nice switch from all SSA pieces. I competed in Solo/Ensemble and got an Excellent II rating. But I wasn't happy with it. I wanted to be better. So I continued with Frontenacs and district choir and voice lessons. I was robbed of my Superior I rating Junior year, but I finally got it senior year. By that point, I was the Soprano section leader in both chorus and Frontenacs, one of the top singers in my school, and in the state of Missouri-I had made All State and received a Superior I rating at State Solo/Ensemble.
I realized singing is my passion. Whether it's cantoring at my church or singing in the shower, I can't live without it. So here I am, at DePauw University majoring in vocal performance. Quite a stretch for my family-my dad thought I'd be playing college softball at a school like UCLA. Every now and then I still feel out of place since sports have ruled the majority of my life and I really didn't get into the arts until a few years ago, but that just pushes me even farther to become a better singer and musician. After all, I like being different.


At 10/01/2006 6:29 PM, Blogger Nat said...

So, yea, I don't think I read your blog last time we updated but definitely enjoy all the new details. Do you think you enjoy SSA or SATB more?

At 10/01/2006 6:32 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

So that is pretty much my entire family in a nutshell. All but one of my cousins are all hardcore superstar baseball and soccer and etc. and I tend to get made fun of for the fact that I'm so into band.

At 10/01/2006 7:20 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I agree when you said there is nothing like singing in a big group. I love that.

At 10/01/2006 7:29 PM, Blogger Kitt_Katt said...

I understand how hard it is to be the only musical one in the family. They don't understand you.

At 10/01/2006 7:47 PM, Blogger Godfather Outlaw said...

cool post - i used to be really big into sports too, except i had to make a decision about 6 years ago, and i chose to stick with music. i still love to do sports though, tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball. sports rule! just not nearly as much as music...

At 10/01/2006 8:36 PM, Blogger Emily Rose said...

I don't know if I have posted this before, but I come from a long line of women who are tone deaf. Also, no one in my family is very musical either. I think it is interesting that you begin your piece with this fact, because it does make a difference in how you percieve music when you are kind of on your own.


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