Hello there to the random people from google searches who read this blog! I still exist.
I’ve been somewhat busy lately. I went to a music program in May and after that I went to my new school/teacher to get some lessons and check out places to live, etc.
That was pretty much my big thing for the summer and now I don’t really have much going on. Part of me kind of wishes I had signed up for more programs, but at the same time, I really think this “free time” will be good for me. Part of the reason why my school year last year was so difficult is because I overloaded myself last summer. Now, I feel like I’ve under-loaded myself and I feel somewhat lost for what to do this summer. I know this is the right decision, but it’s almost too much.
So yeah, anyway, I have an undergraduate degree now. Crazy how time flies, it really honestly doesn’t feel like it was that long ago when I graduated high school! It’s actually quite insane. I’ve come such a long way musically and emotionally in just four years, and I have a long way to go yet. It’s always depressing that the better you get, the worse you get too. What I mean by that is as you get better, you realize how much more work there is to be done.
I think of my naive self in first year. It was the first time I had ever felt good about myself musically. Nobody made me self-conscious. I was confident, but not cocky. I knew I had to work hard, but I didn’t care what other people were doing. Come second year and all that disappeared. It was back to all these feelings of inadequacy and doubt that I thought I left behind in high school. It took me a long time to realize that those feelings are normal and that they don’t just magically “disappear”.
Now that I have my degree, it’s almost like I feel more inadequate than ever. Now I finally feel like I’m at where I would have liked to have been four years ago. I wish that I could play at the level I do now at the start of my undergrad. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever felt like this. Because of this, I did consider doing a gap year or a one year diploma program to “improve my technique”. My teacher advised me against this and said not to have a negative association with it, but a positive one. For example, instead of thinking of taking extra years of school because you suck and need to get better, think of it as an opportunity to get some more training and learn more repertoire. I decided to go ahead with Master’s because I knew I wanted to do it anyway, why prolong it? I can still take something like an Artist’s diploma afterward if I still feel like it.
I don’t know what else to really say right now. I look forward to starting my Master’s in September and I’ll definitely rant about it here if I need to! If there’s one thing I learned in my undergrad, it’s that moving away won’t magically solve your problems.
Before I begin, just a quick update. I am officially done my undergrad now! Woohoo! I got all my official marks back and everything. I will, at some point, do a more detailed post reflecting on that experience. For today, I wanted to do another off-topic rant post. I apologize if this gets to be on the lengthy side, there are a lot of background information and details, but I will try to summarize as best I can.
Basically, fourth year was somewhat challenging for me. If you don’t believe me, read anything posted from September-December 2015. One thing that added to the struggles were some falling outs with various friends. I guess you could say if this was ever going to happen, my last year was the best year for it, but it was still difficult.
First off, I had a circle of friends outside the music faculty that I’d met from living in residence over the years. As important as it is to be making connections with other musicians, it’s nice to be able to get away from them too. I always made an effort to hang out with them with my weird schedule, but it usually worked out. This year was tough though. At the beginning of the year, it seemed like everyone in the group started dating and most of these developed into relationships as the year went on. I wasn’t seeing anyone as I was way too stressed out to take care of myself, let alone be there for another person. As the year progressed, it seemed as if they all started to have their own lives/schedules with their boyfriends and girlfriends. I’m not saying that I’m mad at them for it, it’s just unfortunate that I was the odd one out. To be fair, I kind of had my own life too with my grad school auditions. In second term we hung out maybe once or twice. Whenever I had some free time I would shoot a message to the group, and I’d always get a response like “Oh not tonight, I’m busy”. Once you get too many messages like that, you just stop asking. I was hoping to hang out with them one more time before I left and so I asked when they were done their finals. They said they would get back to me then. I messaged one of them individually to see what was up and she said “Oh sorry, I’m at my boyfriend’s house for the weekend”. I understand relationships are important and take commitment, but a friendship is also a relationship that requires a certain amount of commitment too. You can’t always be blowing off your friends for your boyfriend or girlfriend, especially in this case as she promised that we could get together before I left. To be fair, we hadn’t set a specific date yet, but still. We could have hung out before she left for her boyfriend’s if she knew she was going.
Okay, that one was easy to summarize. The next friend and my issues with her could seriously be a novel (or two, or three). I’ll type as much as I can here before it gets ridiculous and if it still bothers me, I’ll write more about her in a future entry. This is also why I can’t ever share this blog with anyone who goes to my school (well, former school now) as things could get so awkward.
Basically, I met her at the beginning of last school year (September 2014) and she was a super nice person and we became instant best friends. She was very kind, genuine, and did really nice things for me. She said she was interested to visit me in my home town in May (of 2015) and I asked my parents if she could stay with us and they said sure. Things went pretty well until then, I didn’t really have any major issues, until she came to my house.
She’s one of those people that I should have seen the red flags sooner, but I guess I dismissed them. Sometimes you can be blind to things your friend says/does. Even before she got to my house, it was kind of sketchy. She was planning to visit another friend who lives in a nearby town as well. To tell this story a bit easier, let’s give them fake names. My friend is Jane and her friend is Alice. My friend originally told me that Alice’s mom would drop her off at my place on Sunday for whatever day it was. These were plans we made in April. A couple days before, she texted me and said “Oh, I’m going on a day trip to [insert town here] with Alice’s family so I won’t be able to get a ride to you until Tuesday”. I didn’t make a big deal of it, but I was still kind of upset with the miscommunication and I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick here. Alice was getting a nice long visit and I was being cheated by 2 days.
Tuesday comes and I go to pick Jane up and we start hanging out. The first day was great, we had a lot of fun. No complaints. The second day is where I started to get a bit pissed off. We were putting on a recital at a local church. She had played piano for me in my third year recital, so we thought it would be fun to repeat the program in my hometown and then she could do some solo piano stuff to make it a full length recital. I had taken care of posters and putting them up everywhere, but I hadn’t yet done the program. I wanted her help with it. We’re in my room and I open up my laptop to Publisher (It’s always an idiot proof way of making stuff in terms of formatting). She insists on making it on Microsoft Word and grabs the laptop from me. She had a very opinionated way of doing programs I guess. Every time I made a suggestion, she would dismiss it and make it sound like she knew everything. For example, I like putting birth and death years of composers, but she doesn’t. Then she put bios on the back. I had a bio written that was obviously way too long to put on the back of a program, but I was prepared to cut some stuff out. Let’s just say she beat me to it. She was all like “Sometimes you don’t get to include everything you want to include”. Duh, I wasn’t born yesterday. Long story short, I didn’t like how cocky she was being.
Fast forward to the recital. There is more to it, but one point I wanted to make is how hung up she was on the fact that I had a recital for free admission the previous year, before I even met her. We did this recital as admission by donation, but she actually wanted to charge people (like $5 for students/seniors, $10 for adults or something). I did that recital for free as it was my very first public recital. I was doing it as preparation for being a performance major. I didn’t want people to be like “Oh, you think you’re good enough to charge money now”. She decided the best time to “lecture” me about this was at intermission at our recital. It’s like, yeah, maybe I should have charged admission but it’s none of your business!
Another thing that bothered me is how she just felt that she was entitled to go wherever she wanted and have me drive her there. I’ll admit to being a bit of a homebody when I go home, I don’t really go out anywhere. I like the feeling of not having to be anywhere after a long school year of running around everywhere. Let me also point out that I don’t own a car so I used my parent’s car to drive places. She doesn’t drive so I don’t think she understands basic vehicle etiquette, especially given that I was using someone else’s car and there were times where my parents wanted to go somewhere but couldn’t because they didn’t know if we’d be back, etc. There was one point where she needed to meet up with Alice to drop off some music or something and say bye for the summer. We met at a coffee shop, it was very brief but I was a bit annoyed. Alice does live out of town, but when Jane was visiting them, they did come up to the city many times and I was around. All it took was a phone call or a text and I could have met them for coffee/lunch somewhere. I get she was visiting Alice, but since she can use her time visiting me to visit Alice, why couldn’t she have visited me? She had about 2 weeks at Alice’s place and 5 days at mine. I call double standards. Maybe you’re thinking she’s closer to Alice than me, but that’s not that case (this is getting rather long so maybe I’ll have to include that in a different entry).
Here’s the thing that took the cake, and I’ll end this entry off on this. On our last day together before she left, we planned to do a little roadtrip to a nearby town just for fun. On our way out, my parents confronted us about use of the car. This was the turning point for me as I actually sided with my parents. I think it was quite unfair how we just went places and drove all over the city. She seems to have this idea that if you have a car (or a friend with a car) you can just go wherever you want. I think my parents just honestly wanted to get to know her better and do more things with her, which is not unreasonable I guess. They wondered if they could come along with us and I said it would be fine. When we were alone Jane just went ballistic. She was all like “I can’t believe you let your parents come on our road trip. I can’t believe it! It’s going to be really awkward then. We’ll just be sitting in the back seat and making awkward small talk with your parents. It’ll be awkward silence We can’t listen to music and sing along. This has never happened when I was staying with friend’s parents before. It’s all because you’re an only child. Your parents are jealous that you have friends and do things and so they want to join in on everything you do. You need to tell them not to come!”
Who. The. F***. Says. That. Like, I do understand where she’s coming from, but you don’t have to lecture me like that. It’s not my fault. I mean, a simple “Hey, I was kind of hoping that the road trip could be just for the two of us, is that okay with your parents?” would have been fine. I don’t need a psychological analysis of my life. Also it bothered me that she could have the nerve to say that while staying at my parent’s house. Excuse me but my parents let you stay there for free and provided a room and food for you. The fact that they let me have a guest was very generous of them as well, especially given that I do not pay rent to live there. You do not get to go into my house and insult my family and be blatantly disrespectful to my parents. Thanks to her, I may never get to have the privilege of hosting another friend at my parent’s house ever again as it was such a negative experience. I probably took most of it, but I get the feeling there were aspects of it that my parents weren’t too pleased about either.
I promise I’ll end it off soon. Basically, the falling out aspect of it is when I got back to school in September. Over the summer, we were both really busy and didn’t really keep in touch that much. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I guess I thought maybe she’d apologize to me in September. I like to see the good in people. I thought wrong. She still brings it up from time to time like “Wasn’t it weird when your parents wanted to come on the road trip”. She really doesn’t realize how much she hurt my feelings and I’ve never really forgiven her for it. It sucks because all school year, I basically held this grudge against her and every little thing she did just bothered me. It was hard this year, I felt like I was being so phony around her and in a way, pretending to be her friend. That’s not like me at all. Normally I never let grudges get to this point. If I have an issue with something a friend said, I tell them in a non-confrontational way or if I sense that I said something that rubbed them the wrong way, I’ll apologize before things get awkward. Not with her. She has such a outgoing, opinionated, and loud personality that I feel intimidated a little bit. There are times where I’ve tried to call her out on something small and she’ll get very defensive and go into her “lecture mode”. I don’t know how I would have brought up bigger issues like the ones mentioned above (and others that I might tell on a later date). Sometimes getting these grudges out in the open can strengthen the friendship, other times it’s the end. I wasn’t necessarily scared about her reaction, I guess I just didn’t want to make a big deal because I was moving away anyway.
If you’ve been following this blog, even if it’s only been for a couple entries, you would know that I did grad school auditions. I’m not sure if I mentioned that I’ve already made a decision on where to go. I am very satisfied with my decision and I knew from the beginning that I was probably going to go to that school anyway, but it was useful to look at the other schools and seriously consider them.
It was basically a toss up between two schools, let’s call them School A and School B. I also applied to School C because why not right. I didn’t seriously want to go there but I wanted to check out the school anyway. It was probably the most prestigious out of the three schools, but it wasn’t the right type of school for me. I would never choose a school just for its prestige, my own education and what I get out of it is way more important than me being able to go around and be like “Oh look at me, I went to ______ school, I’m better than everyone else”.
My auditions at School A and School B went very well. I had lessons with the teachers there and I got good vibes from all of them. I guess the teachers could tell that I wanted to go to those schools as well. All the teachers at Schools A and B that I had lessons with really made me feel welcome there and that I wished that I could study with all of them. I felt that when I played those auditions that it was a much better representation of my playing and what I’m capable of. The fact that I wanted to go to those schools and study with those teachers probably also came through in my playing.
By the time I got to School C, I was quite tired from my auditions and School A and B that I just wanted to be done with auditions already. I met up with the teacher at School C for a lesson and in the moment I didn’t really think about it, but looking back at it now, I should have picked up on the weird vibes a little bit better. School C, as I mentioned, was the most prestigious school of the 3 that I applied to and frankly, I think the students and teachers there can be a bit snobby about it. I emailed the teacher to set up a lesson and he suggested a time. I said that was the day I was flying in so it wasn’t ideal but it would be fine. I arrived in the city and even paid for a cab from the airport (when I could have taken the shuttle bus to save money) to make sure that I would get there in good time for my lesson. The teacher emailed me about half an hour before we were supposed to have the lesson to say that something came up and he had to cancel and could teach me some time the next day. I get that sh*t happens sometimes and professional musicians are busy, but what a terrible first impression to make on a prospective student.
I emailed back and said that I was fine to have the lesson the next day in the afternoon. He also left a phone number in his email so I phoned him as well. No answer, so I left a message. The rest of that evening, I received no correspondence from him whatsoever. It wasn’t until 10:00 the next morning that he finally emailed back and asked to do 2:00pm that afternoon. Once again, I get he’s very busy and I respect his time, but that’s just a tad unprofessional. It was very nice of him to offer this lesson, but I can’t be expected to just schedule my whole life around it.
I go to his studio to wait for the lesson. There’s another prospective student in there getting a lesson as well. Her mom was actually waiting outside the studio and I was chatting to the mom a bit. She was applying for undergrad. It was about 1:50 or so when I got there, so we thought they were just finishing up and I’d be there soon. But the lesson went on and on. I could hear a bit outside the door and from what I heard, it sounded like the teacher really liked her. As she was leaving, he said something like “You have my email, keep in touch” and all that fun stuff.
Contrast that to me now. I get into his studio about half an hour after my lesson was supposed to start. I play through my Bach and I could tell he was a little bit unsure of what he wanted to say. Either he was appalled at how terrible it was or there were just too many things that he didn’t know where to begin. He started by complimenting my intonation, which was a first for me. He began by talking about posture and how to hold the viola and stuff like that. It was actually really interesting and I won’t go into detail about that right now, but I tried playing again after and already I noticed a huge difference and it was so much easier to play. Right as I felt the lesson was getting started, he said “Okay, that’s all we have time for today” and just kind of awkwardly kicked me out. I saw how he treated the girl before me. It was clear that he did not like me and did not want me in his studio but he really liked that other girl. The audition was a couple days later and ultimately, I just don’t think I played very well at the audition. It wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think it was a good representation of what I was capable of. In hindsight, I think it was just the awkward vibes I got from that lesson.
The first school I heard back from was School A (which is where I’m going). They actually emailed me a couple hours before my audition at School C. I was super ecstatic as it was my first choice school. Of course, I wanted to wait to hear back from the other schools before making an official decision. I waited and waited. Nothing. Finally, I got a letter from School B about two weeks after my acceptance to School A and I was accepted there as well. The scholarship wasn’t nearly as good though. At this point, I was set on School A as I really loved the program, the teacher, and the scholarship offer was really good. But of course, I had to wait for School C.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I saw another violist friend that I met at a summer program post on Facebook that he got into School C not too long after I got into School B. I logged on to my account at School C to check to see if there was anything for me. Nothing. I had a bit of a gut feeling that I didn’t get into School C based on this, but I didn’t want to assume anything. I decided to wait a bit longer. In the mean time, the teacher at School A phoned me and wanted to check in. He was super excited about me going to School A and really hoped that I went there. The phone call was the deciding factor for me. It was amazing that he took the time to reach out to me like that and none of the other teachers had done anything like that. I decided to stop waiting for School C and just accepted my offer to School A.
About a week ago, I finally heard back from School C and it was not in a good way. I got the official rejection letter. I took the news a lot more harshly than I thought I would. I already had a feeling that I didn’t get in and I didn’t really want to go there anyway, but those harsh words still got to me. Frankly, I should have seen it coming. As I explained, it was clear the teacher didn’t really like me and I didn’t play that well at the audition. It’s not that I’m not good enough, it’s just that it wasn’t the right type of school for me. I don’t want to think of it as a reflection on myself as a player. Even if I had been accepted there, I think the environment at School A is much better for me and I would learn better there. Although School C is much more internationally known as a prestigious school, if it’s not the right type of school for me then there’s no reason to go there. Clearly, there are two other schools that wanted me there so I’m not a total loser. I guess I wanted the option of saying no.