Sunday, September 2, 2012

4 auditions and 9 sessions later...

Today I found out I made it into Women's Chorus! It is not an exaggeration to say that this is basically a dream come true (as in, I've actually had several dreams slash nightmares about women's chorus, auditions, etc.). It definitely was not an easy process for me getting here though.

At the start of each school year, there are three rounds of auditions. First is a skills test with a graduate music student, who then decides whether to pass you on to audition for the conductor, which is round 2. The final step is a call-back audition.

Freshman year, I basically auditioned on a whim and was thus not prepared at all. I did terribly on the sight singing because I had never been taught or learned how to do that, and I didn't realize I'd have to sing a capella and ended horribly off pitch. I did get to the second round, but didn't get called back. I wasn't too surprised about that, but I do remember deciding one day that I'd keep trying and that one day, I would get into women's chorus. That year I sang in the non-auditioned University Chorale with Dr. Broomhead, who was a complete riot, and I just loved it. I sang with a few friends from back home and had a great time. Sure it hurt my pride when several of my friends made it in and I didn't, but overall I was pretty happy.

About mid/late-summer before sophomore year, I started preparing for auditions again. I was working at Aspen Grove, but I was able to get some sight reading books from the BYU library, as well as use some online sources. I would sneak away sometimes during my breaks to go practice in the bottom floor of one of the lodges on site that had a piano. I worked really hard preparing my two hymns (one for the skills test, one for the test with the director), but I really struggled staying on pitch. It was super frustrating, and sometimes it was really hard to go practice by myself when I wanted to hang out with friends. I even passed up on ice cream during the last week (I know, right?!) to try to keep my voice in tip-top shape. When auditions came around again, I did much better on my sight singing - but still did pretty poorly on my intonation. Still, I made it not only to the second round, but also the third. I was stoked! I started feeling confident and excited, and got my hopes way up that I would finally make it. And then, that Friday morning after auditions came around and I futilely searched the list for a "Hannah Whipple." It wasn't there, and I was crushed. I had worked so hard and had felt like I had sacrificed so much (people, we're talking about ice cream here), to no avail. After a pathetic little cry by myself, I picked myself up again and went to class.

After the most recent failed attempt, I decided to register for private voice lessons through BYU, both to try to get myself in a better position vocally and just to continue receiving credit for my music minor. I loved my teacher and felt like I made some good improvements. I told her my goals, and she encouraged me to try out for the few spots that open up for winter semester. Since this was a much smaller audition, there wasn't a separate skills test - I went straight to Sis. Applonie (the director). It went pretty terribly. I'm not sure what it was, but I was just not performing my best at all. Talk about discouraging! There went my chance for another 8 months. Yet again, I joined University Chorale, this time in the section led by two graduate students, Mariah and Lee. I didn't always have the best attitude, especially at first. I wanted to be in women's chorus, NOT university chorale, and I was sure that Dr. Broomhead's section (which didn't fit in my section) would be much better than any choir led by graduate students. However, I soon realized that I loved this choir equally well as the one directed by Dr. Broomhead, and when we performed at the end of the semester, I got the biggest performance high. I loved it.

Before I knew it, summer rolled around again. I decided to give it one more shot and fork out another hundred dollars or so to take voice lessons during summer term in preparation for another long round of auditions. I did NOT want to audition. I didn't want to practice sight-singing and hymns over and over, I didn't want to get all nervous, I didn't want to wait to find out the results, and most of all I didn't want to get rejected. again. All very dramatic, I know, but I knew I had to give it another shot, and I had to give it everything. So, I worked hard in my lessons and made my way to the practice rooms as often as possible, sometimes wanting to despair over the seemingly impossibility of sight-singing and staying on pitch - it was this summer that I realized that I am actually somewhat tone-deaf. For real. It was quite frustrating. But I kept trying.

I went home to Mesa for a couple weeks before school started. Auditions started on Saturday before the first day of school on Monday, so I asked Lizzie, who I had driven with, if we could drive back on Friday - without saying why. I wanted as few people to know my audition plans as possible, because it was a little humiliating at this point. I came back in the late afternoon on Friday, basically a total mess - I was scared about school, I was tired from our drive, I was missing my family, and I had an audition the next morning. Thankfully, a talk with my mom on the phone and some time with friends seemed to do the trick, and the next morning I woke up feeling ready - or as ready as I could be - for another audition round. I got myself all dressed up and to campus in time to warm up and practice for my 9:30-ish audition. The skills test went fairly well; I sang the required hymn for alto II (which I was trying out for because it is the least popular, and thus easiest, to get in as), which was "I Need Thee Every Hour" - and boy did I feel that need! I'm pretty sure I ended on pitch, though I don't know exactly because he didn't actually play it on the piano at the end. I did the first two sight-singing lines of music well and the third one not as well, and same with the tonal memory exercises. But, I felt I had done my best, and thankfully he sent me on to the next round.

Luckily for me, when I went to sign up for a spot for the next round, there were still lots of empty spots available, including for that morning. I decided, heck, I'm already in the audition mindset, I'm dressed, I'm warmed up - why not get this one taken care of too? So I waited and practiced for a few minutes and then went to round 2 with Sis. Applonie. This was a little different than in past years, because she auditioned three of us at a time. Which was just a little scary because one of the other girls had perfect pitch and both of them were awesome and were even sent on to audition for Sis. Hall, the concert choir director. But it was also really exciting because Sis. Applonie had me change the way I was placing my tongue while I was singing (it sounds weird, but singing's weird, so whatevs) and it made my voice so much better! At least, that's what she said. She was like, I'm glad we did that, because that just brought up your score! What a relief. She said she was super close to sending me on to Sis. Hall too, but she wanted me to practice with my "new sound" for another semester or so. That got me hopeful though because if she thought I was almost good enough to audition for Concert Choir, maybe I was good enough for Women's Chorus? I tried not to get my hopes up too much though.

On Tuesday at 1:00PM, the call-back lists went up. I was on the Alto I list - she told me that I was definitely not an alto II, which I basically knew anyways, I was just trying to get away with it ;) I went to the call-back "class" that same day at 3, where we learned the portion of the call-back piece. It was a really pretty song, but I was feeling pretty grumpy because there were just so many girls there, and I was so tired of going through the process and feeling like I wasn't good enough. But I worked really hard to memorize as much of the piece as I could because I knew we wouldn't be allowed to take the music to practice.

Wednesday at 3:00PM was my call-back time. I went as early as I could so I wouldn't have to wait so long and get all nervous and such. I was still super super nervous though. It was on the de Jong concert hall stage - no big deal. I went up with two other girls, and we each sang a line of the song consecutively. I did it once and felt pretty good; we sang it again and I felt pretty good again. Sis. Applonie said she was sure about me and another girl (sure as in she knew if she wanted us or not so we could go, but no one had any idea whether that meant she was sure she wanted us, or she was sure she didn't...) but the graduate assistant said she wanted to hear me one more time. Dang. I knew then that I was on the border. I sang one more line, and then was told I could go. I didn't feel as good about my last one as I had about the others, but I was happy I was done and tried not to think about it any more. Thus finished my 9th session of singing in women's chorus auditions - two my freshman year, three at the beginning of my sophomore year, one in the middle of my sophomore year, and three now at the beginning of my junior year. What a ride.

Friday noon finally rolled around. I was busily working on a project with some of my classmates in the basement of the library, when I looked at the time, excused myself for a minute, and ran (not literally) to the Harris Fine Arts Center. There I found myself surrounded by girls squealing in delight that they made WC. I didn't want to look at the list. I glanced at it, then quickly glanced down. Then did it again. I thought I might have seen something that looked like my name. So I looked at the list one last time, this time long enough to actually read the names - and I saw it! My name was actually, finally there. I was so excited, but I didn't really have anyone to be excited with at the time, so I just happily walked away back towards the library with a grateful prayer in my heart that it hadn't all been for nothing :)

Part of me is pretty stressed because I know it's going to be a busy time commitment, but I am so excited for this amazing opportunity! It's what I've wanted for so long. Singing makes me so stinking happy. Yesterday I was being a dork and listening to every WC youtube video and music clip I could find and thinking, they sound so awesome! That's going to be me!! While I sometimes wish I could have sang in this choir in the past, I am also grateful for the experience this has given me. It's been a humbling experience that has taught me to keep trying, and as cheesy as that sounds, it's been an important lesson. I'm not perfect, I'm not the best or even relatively great at some things, but if I just do my best, things will work out. I sure am glad that this time, they eventually worked out in the way I wanted :) I tried on my WC outfit on Friday and as unflattering and '90's-esque as it is, I'm so excited to finally get to wear it and be part of this choir! And sing awesome songs like this!:



1 comment:

  1. You can do hard things! A great life lesson.