Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Defined Answer

This is my answer. I was very excited about graduate school. I was even planning on saving for an A Clarinet and getting in connection with the professors. It seemed like everything I ever wanted.
But I notice something: I am getting tired and burnt out. I love school, but the idea of having to take more classes and having to write a thesis is really gross to me. I am tired of it. Not that I'm lazy, but I'm just tired. I wasn't going to be 100% into it.

I was freaking out. I wanted to perform. It was all I wanted. And I noticed something: I would have a hard time getting hired after my grad degree. I would truly be a "starving artist." And something didn't settle right with me after I left. I was extremely impressed with University of Oregon's music department and their programs, but I had a strange nudge that was doubtful. Something wasn't right.

I began to think of no solutions. I wanted to perform.

I wasn't entirely sure when it hit me. I knew it was another choice in case grad school didn't work out. Veterans day came and went, and I started to develop my doubts about graduate school. I got a lot of mixed feedback about joining the military band, but I felt strangely pulled to it. I decided to talk to my uncle Karl, who is in active duty in the navy. He had told me to audition before joining the branch. Or any branch for that matter. It was on my mind consistently. After a couple of days, I went to go talk to Pat about my career choices and he randomly handed me this brochure about the marine band. I was extremely surprised, and took it without question. It was all strangely eerie to me, though.
Another day later, I went to listen to the navy band on youtube and I clicked on Maslanka's fourth symphony and it was SPECTACULAR. Now, this really captured me when I started learning the music. And I felt like time had frozen, and I had an epiphany. Maybe I was suppose to be part of this kind of band? The idea put my worry at ease and I took note of it: I was suppose to be in a military band. It was what I wanted. Paid full time to be part of a military branch and play music?  I wanted it.
The branch I chose, after much consideration and talking to recruiters is the Marines. I went to call the local recruiter in Beaverton, and he was kind and took out time and effort to talk with me for a couple of hours. (I'm well away that that is their job--to convince) He and I talked about service and being a marine along with being a musician.
I knew it was what I wanted. I passed the first set of questions and assessment. I also found out I am twenty pounds over the mark to be sent to basic training in, but the recruiter offered to train me and help me keep my diet in tact (said to cut down on sugars). I wanted to be in this band. I still do. The passing score in playing is a 2.7, and if I pass, I'm guaranteed a spot in one of the marine bands. 3.0, I would get to choose where I was based and which band I played with. On top of this all is the idea of serving. I want to make a big difference, and I know it's what I want. I plan on leaving in June.

I will be a Marine.
And I will remain a musician.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh, more school? Maybe? This just seems like TREBLE.

Now that I got your attention with an awful music pun, there has been a major change in my life.

Well, it's not emotional, it's more career.

I went to Eugene with Jonathan on Thursday, last week. I was checking out the graduate program, meeting the clarinet instructor, and checking out the school itself. In case you're still confused, it is University of Oregon. There's a picture in case you're still confused.

Now, I came from a mediocre music program at best, with no private training (I didn't know it existed), with a plastic Bb Bundy clarinet. I played on 4 reeds, had a beginner mouthpiece, didn't know what solo contests were, didn't know All State existed, didn't know anything, really.

George Fox University turned my life completely around. I found out that I didn't even tongue. I had awful reeds, my clarinet was worthless, my embouchure was wrong, completely (I played with an oboe embouchure), my hands were stiff, my tone was edgy, and I was clueless entirely. Until I was whipped into shape. My instructor, despite our strained relationship, turned me from a weak, non-existant player, to what I am now. She broke all (that I know of) of my bad habits, taught me how to play and caught me up to the level I needed to be for advanced undergraduate. I bought a professional clarinet, mouthpiece, and improved my reeds, while expanding my repertoire. At first, I was thoroughly discouraged. Why would I be a performer? It's what I originally wanted. But I felt like there was no way to catch up. But I still loved music, so I inherited Music Education into my major, creating a double major.

Last spring, Pat decided to send Alyssa (a bassoon player) and I to the CBDNA conference. We were to play with the intercollegiate honor band. I felt excited. This was the first collective band I had played in (keep in mind, I didn't know All State existed until college). Let me tell you, I was HUMBLED. These players were GOOD. I was fifteenth chair out of twenty(secretly amused I beat Linfield), and the first chair was spectacular. In fact, his intensity scared me a little. I wanted to be like him, but I felt like all hope was lost.

On the last day, the director asked us to raise our hands to which major we were. I realized I was the only third that was performance, and I was even further discouraged from performing itself. Until he said what I didn't expect. This was what changed me forever.

"If you want to perform, perform! Don't just sit around and watch other people do it. Some people start at different levels. Some will take more work, some will take less, but if you work hard enough, you will eventually get there. Don't sell yourself short."

I sat there stunned. I had convinced myself in three years that I wasn't worth it. I loved teaching, but I LOVED performing. The high, the love, the fact I could influence, and the way I understood the music. I felt my eyes tear up, and I felt like, in a way, he was speaking directly to me. I wanted to perform. Why did I tell myself I couldn't?

So, after that weekend, I focused on performing. And I realized that I wanted to go to grad school. University of Oregon wasn't even on my list of options until a professor mentioned graduating from there and the good program it had.

Again, I was stunned when I arrived. There were 15 clarinet majors. Only 2 here at Fox. And these were amazing players. But I only felt driven at that point.

I told the instructor that I would do anything to be the best and I noticed that I was echoing the same words I had spoken to Pat Vandehey when I auditioned for the George Fox band. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to perform. I still want to be the best and perform, and I felt myself tearing up while talking to the clarinet instructor at U of O last week. I was conveying my heart, much like I had during my GFU audition. It was all I wanted. To perform and be the best. It was strange how, even though I myself have changed immensely, that the love and drive has not changed. It may have been widened due to teaching, but it has stayed with me for four years.

After all this time, since I have started this blog, I can honestly say that that will never change.

In a sense, not changing is also a strange thing, too.