Friday, April 20, 2007

grad school - part one

Five years ago this evening, I performed a self-written one-hour thesis to earn my master’s degree in musical theater from The Boston Conservatory. Danielle and I did it together, actually; we co-wrote it. Danielle was good enough to remind me that it was five years ago today. Five years.

My very first day of graduate academia all began, right out of the gate, with none other than a music theory test. They gave us this exam to assess where we were in our knowledge and training of music (for those interested, it included things like written and aural melodic dictation, rhythmic dictation, transposing key signatures, identifying relative minor, etc.) For most of my fellow classmates (there were 9 of us in total), this test could technically have been called a walk. Most of them received their bachelors’ in vocal performance, which is a music degree. Which means they took music classes. Where they teach this stuff. But I was a theater undergrad, coming to a music school with a music savvy equivalent to a third-year piano student. When it came to reading and understanding music, I knew precious little, and faked the rest. In fact, I probably owe it to my theater degree for how well I faked it; it got me to places I never dreamed I’d be, like in that classroom for example. Sitting there that day, I was cursing my acting skills, mentally shredding that theater degree into tiny pieces. It felt worthless to me then. Sitting there, on my first day of graduate school, in one of the most competitive programs for musical theater in the country, I nearly choked on my nausea. Every question mocked me. Is this how I’m going to feel every day for the next two years? Dismally under-trained and humiliated? What am I doing here? I don’t know ANY-thing. I just entered a graduate music program, and I know nothing about music! Naturally, I was the first to “finish” the test.

Now for many of you who read my blog, you may be a little surprised at what I did next. Back in September of 2000 I was not practicing my LDS faith, nor had I been for some time. In September of 2000, as soon as I got out of that classroom after turning in my blank exam paper, I went into the back alley and proceeded to smoke about three cigarettes in a row. I was a total chimney. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Danielle, one of my nine classmates whom I’d just met briefly earlier that day. Danielle was smoking one herself. We got to talking. She had a theater background too. She smokes, she’s in theater, and she totally tanked that stupid exam, same as me. It was destiny. We were inseparable for the next two years.

The similarities between Danielle and I pretty much stop there, I think. She’s from Queens, I’m from California. She’s a 5’2” Italian alto, and I’m a blonde soprano with an Irish chin. She could belt to the balcony better than Merman, whereas I had trouble not sounding like a Julie Andrews wannabe. Our looks and voices could not have been more polar. And yet, from that first day we bonded like twin sisters. I think it was only four or five days later when I recall the two of us sitting in my dorm room crying our eyes out because, you know, grad school is freaking freaky.

To be continued…


Isn't it crazy how things that are so intense can actually fade from our memory, and we have to be reminded of them?? Wow...Life is awesome. You. Are. Awesome.
A-Mazing post. Thank you.
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