Monthly Archives: December 2011

College apps, music, and life plans

I have been busy applying for colleges and thinking hard about what I want to do with my life, lately.  Heavy stuff, and most of it is confusing.  I’ve got so many interests that I have no idea how I can choose to study just one!

I took both SATs and ACTs because I wasn’t sure which one I would do better on and which one colleges preferred potential students to take.  I took the SATs twice – the first time I got a score of 1820 and the second time… well let’s just say the stress from my classes was getting to me and I did worse than the first time I took the test, even though I’d taken a SAT Prep class and had finished more classes.  My ACT score was 23.  I don’t know much about how ACTs are scored, but I’m told 23 is about average.  It’s not great, but most people score about 20-25 on the ACT.  My unweighted GPA is 3.7 right now, but I’m going to be finishing up some classes in a few weeks so it will change a little (I’m hoping it will go up!)

I applied to 3 schools: Southern Virginia University, Unversity of NH, and University of VT.  SVU is my first choice and dream school.  I visited the campus over Memorial Day and it was a great experience.  The small school atmosphere really appealed to me (the student body is about 800).  I am also a very religious person and to many this might sound crazy, but I love their strict honor code and no-drugs/no-alcohol rules.  Also, graduates from SVU test higher on national tests than students from any other school – including Ivy League universities such as Dartmouth and Harvard.  Based on my GPA and SAT score, I qualify for a yearly scholarship of $7,000 which will be awarded when I arrive at the school and every year I study there as long as I maintain a certain GPA.  

SVU accidentally made 2 files for me and so they didn’t think they’d gotten my application because it got put in one file and all my other info was in the other file.  After a few phone calls and emails, everything was sorted out and now I’m waiting to hear back from them. AAAAH!  I’m really anxious to get accepted.  SVU is my dream school. I also really hope I get good scholarships, because SVU is more expensive per year than the other schools I applied to, and we are in a really bad financial situation right now.  I would rather not get saddled with thousands of dollars in student loans like my dad, who is still paying his off 20+ years after graduating.

I have not heard back from UVM.  I haven’t even visited the campus.  I’ve only been thinking about SVU and maybe this isn’t very smart, but I’ve got my heart set on going to SVU so I haven’t really looked into other schools.

The application process for UNH has been confusing.  I’m currently waffling between a Liberal Arts major and a Performance Major (with flute).  If you are going to study music, UNH won’t accept your application until you schedule an audition.  Then they won’t process your application until you receive the audition results.  My audition is January 20th – less than a month away – and we just found out about this so I’m going to have to really work hard to get my 2 “pieces of contrasting styles” up to snuff and memorize my scales so my audition won’t be a total disaster.  I’m a pretty confident flautist, but I don’t like working with such a short deadline and I don’t like auditioning.  Frankly, who does?  I’ve only auditioned twice in my life so not only do I not like it, I also don’t have much experience doing it.

If you’re interested, one of the pieces I’m going to play is a contemporary by Griffes called “Poem”. (Someone else’s recital.  It’s a pretty good recording of the piece.) I’ll have about 15 minutes for my audition, so I’ll only be able to play about half the piece.  My other piece is “Allegro” from Handel’s Sonata in F Major.

Besides Liberal Arts/Flute Performance, I am also planning on becoming a certified therapeutic harpist.  I can get my certification in only a year and then have a steady job using my passion for music to help pay for school.  I’d rather play harp in a hospital than flip burgers.  Plus, having a therapist position at a hospital is much steadier than solely relying on gigs and performances.  Depending on what part of the country you live in, it can be very hard to make a living off gigs and not many people pull it off.

I’m having trouble choosing between Liberal Arts and Music Performance because I love to write and want to study writing, but both my flute teachers are encouraging me to study music performance because they say I am talented.  I really enjoy playing flute, but the flute world is so harsh and competitive, I can’t really see myself playing with groups like the Boston Pops.  To be totally honest, there’s way too many flutists out there.  Sometimes I wish I’d picked a less common instrument, like bassoon.  There’s never any competition for bassoonists!  Or, I wish that I had been able to start playing the harp years ago, instead of only last year.  Harpists are few and far between and good harpists are high in demand.  My teacher lives in the tiny town of St. Johnsbury, VT, and during the summer he has gigs almost every day and his calendar is always full during holiday weekends, even though he’s not even promoting himself anymore!  I think most harpists charge $150-$400 an hour, depending on the type of gig.  That’s good money!

A few weeks ago, I had an exciting phone call with the harp director at Boston Conservatory.  A while ago, my harp teacher said that with hard work, I could probably study harp at a conservatory next year, even though I will have been playing only 2 years.  Then he saw the audition requirements for Boston Con. and regretted saying anything to me.  We’d already scheduled the call by then, so he said to go through with it and see what she told us.  

The harp director was excited by my experience playing in nursing homes on Sunday afternoons and the fact that I won first place in the Novice division of the NH Highland Games Harp Competition in September.  

She is really trying to build up a lever harp program at the conservatory (and I play a lever harp made by Dusty Strings made by Dusty Strings) because most harpists that study at a conservatory play a pedal harp. The symphony business is going downhill fast because of the economy, and most symphonies can’t afford to fill harp positions.  Pedal harpists are really struggling, because no business = no way to pay off a $25,000 instrument.  However, lever harpists are thriving.  Lever harps are really versatile and underestimated and everything from classical to jazz to pop can be played on them.

Anyways, the harp director at Boston Con. recommended that I get certified as a therapeutic harpist, go to school wherever I want, keep in touch with her, and go to Boston after I graduate to help her push forward with the lever harp program.  In her words, “because I’ll need good young lever harpists like you to spread the word about lever harp and help the instrument thrive.” HOW EXCITING IS THAT?!  This woman as played with Boston Pops, multiple ballet companies and other orchestras, works as a therapeutic harpist at a few hospitals in Boston, and is a highly regarded Conservatory professor.  And she just gave me a golden opportunity to get my foot in the door in one of the most competitive (and rewarding) industries in the country!!!!!! I can’t tell you HOW FREAKING EXCITED I AM about this.

So, on this note (pun intended) I say “Adios, amigos”!

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NaNoWriMo and homework

Hey everybody!  This is an update because I haven’t posted in a while.  It will probably definitely be long-winded because I always have a lot to say, but recently I’ve been extra-busy.

First order of business: NaNoWriMo.  Yeah… about that.  I totally failed, with my novel weighing in on December 1st at a whopping 843 words. I won’t even go into how I totally lost my grasp on where the story was going about a week into November.  That’s what happens when you’re taking 7 classes (3 of which are college classes), practicing 3 instruments, and still trying to eat, sleep, and have a tiny bit of time leftover for social activities.  And by “tiny” I really mean “only enough time to go to church on Sundays, check Facebook once in a while, text between homework assignments, and maybe see some of my friends in person about once a week.”  I know a lot of people like to say that homeschoolers have no social life.  Until about 6 months ago, I was a total social butterfly.  Then I realized how much I have to do in order to be ready for college next year and my social calendar went out the window.  Now it’s crunch time.  Fun.  But at least when I get to college, while all my classmates are complaining about the workload I’ll be able to say (like the 90’s kid I am), “talk to the hand”.

Ok, onto homework.  I’m currently a student at an online charter school, so I’m technically not homeschooled anymore. (Even though most of the time I’m going to class in my bedroom, wearing Tinkerbell PJs and drinking hot cocoa.)  Until last week, I was taking 7 classes: 4 classes with my online school, 2 dual-credit college/HS classes online with a community college, and lastly playing alto flute in the flute choir at another community college.  

Flute choir rehearses on Fridays at 12:15.  It’s an hour drive to the school, an hour rehearsal, then I hang around for an hour until my hour flute lesson (my teacher is part of the school faculty), then an hour drive home.  That’s a FIVE HOUR chunk of my day.  So I’m not going to be playing in the flute choir this semester.  I’m really sad about it, because the class was a lot of fun and a flute choir is probably the most ethereal ensemble I’ve ever heard.  But, I just can’t afford to lose so much time.  

Last week my 2 online college classes finished.  Those were hard.  I took Intro to Lit and Intro to Music – neither of those subjects are particularly challenging, but managing my time was.  Those classes take a year’s worth of material and squash it into one 16-week semester.  There were piles of reading assignments and then you had to spend a minimum of 6 hours a week on the class forums, plus a minimum of 4 hours writing papers and working on research projects.  All that on top of 4 other online classes, most of which are heavily reading-based. (Spanish 1, Physical Science, SAT Prep, Algebra 2.)  I felt like one of those clowns trying to keep a dozen plates spinning on top of thin poles.  By the end of the semester, all my plates were tumbling onto my head.  But somehow I finished the college classes and I’m still alive.  Now I’m almost scared to find out what my grades are.

…And I’m about to do it all over again.  In about a month, I’ll be taking 3 online college classes and 2 online HS classes.  I’m also going to be taking Spanish 2 at a local community college, because while I’m good at reading Spanish, I am a weak Spanish speaker and I feel like I need the face-to-face relationship with my teacher and classmates to force me to speak it more.  No, my parents don’t speak Spanish.  Yes, I have friends that are taking Spanish, but a typical conversation with them goes something like this:
Me: ¡Hola! ¿Como estas?
Friend: Hey Shelby, what’s up?
Me: Estoy bien, y tú?
Friend: I’m good, thanks. 
Me: AAAAARGH!!!!

I’m going to make another post right now about my adventure into the world of college applications and what I want to do with my life.  If I put it all in one post, it would be too long and boring.  And boring, my friends, is something a writer never wants to be.

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