Happy New Year. 2016.

Let’s just say I feel more broken than I did last year, but in a much different way, a way I didn’t know was possible. I’ve continued life with the philosophy that I can’t rule out possibilities for my life, for truth, that I haven’t tried personally. At some point I realized that all of my closest friends were moving on in their lives, be it to marriage, business, or excessive schoolwork, but as my reaching out seemed to wear itself thin, I found myself moving in that same direction. And I don’t mean progress as much as I mean alienation. I don’t know who would still be glad to see me, to no fault of their own.

Perhaps one of the reasons that even these old songs aren’t speaking to me is that I can hardly remember what that love that they always speak of feels like. They say that friends come and go in your life, but your family will always be there for you. I could say that I never took advantage of the large family of which I am a part my entire life, and now that I have family living out here, I have them. But I’m still not entirely sure what’s there. It’s territory that still feels alien to me.

I’m grateful not to have failed any classes, though when the difference is less than two percent, there is hardly a difference in my eyes. But one thing I know, I did not give up. Even though I had convinced myself that I had many, many times, I know that I didn’t. A student in my music history class had similar experiences to me, but when the difference was between passing and failing, s/he only saw her grade in the class and lost hope, giving up when the chance was its lowest at the final exam. For me in three of my classes, my grade shocked me as each day progressed in the semester. I have never failed a paper in my life, and seeing two classes below the 50 up until the end… at that point I accepted that failure was imminent, in not just one, but three major classes, but somehow I managed to get through.

I express that though such situations have made me rethink absolutely every aspect of my life to a pulp, I came to a conclusion that I had neither expected nor found appealing – that utter, miserable failure is a necessary part of my growth. I didn’t find it reasonable. I still don’t understand it. In fact looking at these words now, they look so blatantly simple and obvious my brain doesn’t admit they do it justice. But as the repercussions of my decisions continue to flurry into my face, I think I do accept that I contain at least a smidgen of tenacity. I’m not strong, and for the first New Year’s Eve that I’ve passed, I don’t feel a rush of renewed energy. But I have a prayer. I don’t even feel up to my big plans. But somewhere, something inside of my knows something – that happiness, love, future relationships are still possible. They still exist and can not only be real but also strong. And even though our brains trick us to no end, I know that in my past, times like this were always eventually followed by some amount of triumph. I am finding it hard to trust my own words, yet here they are, floating around looking for entrance into my heart.

I bid you a happy New Year, because we don’t just deserve it. It’s necessary encouragement, and by it are we made better. Life’s going to keep throwing snowballs that we are unprepared for. I think we are unfit to see our own progress or regression if it may be. I think life really is going to get better. And if you had to have as many glasses as I have had tonight, I’d say just go with it.

Wind Symphony Tour

I wrote a blurb about touring Europe with the BYU Wind Symphony on my family’s blog, so head on over there to read about it. Overall it was a fantastic experience. I only we could have stayed in one place for longer! But I’m glad we saw every place that we did, because there were so many sights. And seeing YSAs and faithful families on other continents was an inspiration to me; it was amazing to meet all these people from other cultures. Now I’m back in Provo on my second day missing four wisdom teeth, and so far I feel no pain or swelling coming on – knock on wood! The funny thing was leaving right after winter semester and returning in the middle of spring semester: this campus is empty! But it’s been fun running into old friends at different times. I’m glad not everyone’s left. But soon I will go home… just one more week. Oh, the excitement of traveling.

How Do You Evaluate A Year?

Okay, there are still finals left for this semester – the majority for which I am terrified – but I’m afraid that there won’t be much time to write anything afterward and I feel like I should reflect on the changes I’ve made over my first year in college. It will all be a rush: after finals, I need to hurry up and move out, rehearse with the Wind Symphony for a few days, ship off to tour Europe for three weeks, fly back here to get my wisdom teeth yanked, return home for a month, then say goodbye so I can fly back to the MTC in Provo by July 5. After that the remainder of two years I will be serving my mission in Australia, and for that period of time it is unlikely that this blog will even be updated. But enough about my immediate future.

I remember when I first posted about arriving here in Utah. It was kind of like it is now – excitement, anxiety for the future. The complications of moving around so much! Here I was, not knowing anybody, expecting to eventually be able to become familiar with the place and lots of people. Then there was band camp. What a hot, dry, exhausting week. I made really good friends in band, especially with the members of my section, my skin became black and I drank more water than I ever could have imagined. This is some strange new climate I’ve (almost) gotten accustomed to! But truly marching band was one of the keys to my existence last semester. It was the reason my roommates hardly ever saw me; the football games, rehearsals, socials, and variety show were kind of the highlights of the semester.

Oh the roommates. What can I say? That indeed first impressions are often wrong. They know I thought I lived with weirdos when I first moved in. How judgmental could I be? I couldn’t have picked a better bunch to room with, not on the entire campus. They’ve become my best friends here and I love just sitting around talking with them about anything, even the dumbest things. I’ve probably lost a few IQ points in the process. We lived in Snow Hall last semester until it got torn down. God bless. But then we were rewarded with Building 26 of the luxurious new apartments in New Heritage. It’s practically so easy to live here that time’s really flown by so quickly.

I’ve gone off on composing adventures. Late nights – that’s when the ideas came to me. Pulled way too many all-nighters in relation to this. Even though my output was small, I’ve gained a lot of experience and insight in my own writing. I probably learned a lot more in Music Theory and Ear Training than I think I have, because at least something’s changed. And my struggle with new music continues until today. Even if I was aware of the strange things in modern music when I was in high school, I still wasn’t prepared for the ways it would hit me in college. Especially when taking Music Composition and being assigned to write in new styles that I would never attempt on my own. These things brought many, many questions into my head about the entire purpose of music. But I have enjoyed the new music concerts. I was lucky (and wise) enough to attend as many as I could and broaden my musical tastes. I was lucky to attend any concert actually. I’ve loved stalking BYU Arts for events that I could go to and see all the concerts, recitals, and shows. It’s one of those gems of living so near the HFAC.

It’s in the HFAC that I built the majority of my web of relationships. People see me there all the time; it is my second home. You do meet the most amazing people there. I’ve seen talent that has driven me to a point of jealousy that had become rage. I’ve met other people with startlingly similar interests as me. And for some of the friends I’ve made there, quickly or slowly, I hold so much love and respect. I still don’t understand how they can be both so talented and have such strong testimonies at the same time… it’s like they’re so perfect. Of course this is impressive when it comes to science and engineering, but good musicianship speaks to me on a personal level.

Other random memories. Getting mission papers done in secret. Clarinet fest (unsuccessful all-nighters). Bishop setting us up on dates. Being the toe for the independence half-time show. Hearing that great rendition of ‘Colors of the Wind’ for the first time. Variety shows. Mission calls. Music civ exams. Seeing my siblings (rarely) and getting Yogurtland. Juries. Frosted rocks. The sloth video. Hiking the Y at night. Home teaching woes, and triumphs. Quoting Mulan. Belting H2$ at 2AM. Por que no funciona la red? From Cumorah’s Hill rehearsals. Baconators. The power of tunnel singing. Seeing old friends on campus. Standing in the Drive-thru at Wendy’s. Music (and instruments) falling apart onstage. Joseph Alessi, Catharine Hartig, and Bill Smith. VanDoren, Mitchell Lurie, and Rico! Terrible Chinese food. American Heritage lectures. Stop it! My roommates’ laughs. Last-minute hires. And basically going to every concert possible.

So, looking back. I know I skipped a ton, but you can’t keep track of everything. If one thing has changed about me, what would that be? I feel that college that been a truly humbling experience for me, to learn about myself, to learn about God. I’ve learned a ton in such a short amount of time, and I expect to learn much more in the coming years. But using this experience as a way to wipe my slate clean and adapt to a new environment has allowed me to change my attitude toward life. I’ve been given the chance to make myself whatever I wanted to be out here, and I’ve chosen to be happy with the conditions I chose. This has been a wonderful year, and I’m going to miss anyone that I don’t see for a while. It’s almost time to say goodbye; I’ve said a few already. This is one amazing school and I couldn’t be more grateful for the gifts and opportunities I’ve gotten because of it.

Let us all press on!

Visiting Home for the First Time

Well, it happened. I’m back in Maryland! Yeah and I reverted the site decor to its original design, with some extra color. I missed the old classic look. Anyway I know I wrote a bit of Christmas-y stuff last post but I can always post more, it’s December. This semester has been a blast. Sustaining myself for the first time turned out to be a ton of fun. It’s become a second home to me. Which is good, except being home feels strange, like I’m just visiting it for the time being. It’s only a matter of time before I go back anyway.

First I visited all the people from the branch. Christmas party and whatnot, lots of improvising on the program. The funny thing is that I feel like no one has changed, even though I still have that gut feeling that I’ve missed a ton of stuff that they’re just shrugging off. After a few months, I’d like to be a little bit more in on the picture. Then I visited old DHS in the morning. Same sort of feeling. I think the problem is that it’s the first day and there aren’t enough stories to divulge that are just so related to a single conversation, and the other problem is that I’m not going to keep coming back everyday to talk about different stuff. But I saw most of my teachers and I’m thinking it’s gotta be completely different in the home point-of-view than the visitor. I don’t really want to be nostalgic, but it was so easy to sit at the chorus room piano and read through the Eric Whitacre pieces on the stand. And apparently I’m going in tomorrow to record piano accompaniments for the drama club. And my answer is… absolutely! It’s good to be back.

BYU First Impressions: Band Camp

School is starting tomorrow, and everyone’s finally moved in and ready to begin being busy! Actually many of us have already been quite busy and since the beginning of last week I have been wondering if it would ever come to an end. I didn’t get the orientation that all the other freshmen did (thank goodness). I got something better: college band camp.

It’s funny, the whole time I’ve been here, I haven’t been able to get up before 9AM, which is counter-intuitive since the clock has shifted back two hours for me. But I was able to pull off waking up at 6/7AM every day this past week, and it was well worth it. The clarinet section is wonderful and I’m so glad I’ve gotten to meet all the various marching band members and take part in the abundant humor. They are friendships that I know will last much longer than the awkward acquaintances I’m sure that the freshmen who attended orientation probably experienced. The clarinet section contains 14 members, half of which are new this year, and all of whom are likeable people, which is definitely a first for me. What’s neater is that a bunch of us are music majors.

Spirit days weren’t as big a thing as I was anticipating, but there were still many funny moments. On Harry Potter day, I dressed up as Harry; we also had Ron and Hermione and most everyone else was a Patronus or Dementor. I found a chance to cast my own patronus charm, but even better my section leader brought a tent. Then during break we enacted the scene of Ron stomping out of the tent, leaving Harry to awkwardly dance with a weeping Hermione. It was great.

This summer is marked as unusually hot. This is also a new climate for me; much more dry and bipolar in weather! This marks the first time I’ve willingly put on sunscreen, and a lot of it. But I have been getting many remarks on how dark my skin has become. I am also very grateful for hats, something else I never really enjoyed using, and I now have one of my own. We have begun setting drill and rehearsing most of our music. I won’t give anything away, but I feel very excited about my roles in the upcoming shows, so they will be worth watching!

This experience has proven to be even more of a blessing from God. When I was accepted into the marching band, I was awarded $650 in scholarship money. I just purchased all my books in Saturday, and as it turns out, in total I spent all in all $647. I thank God for the wonderful ways in which He works and blesses our lives each day.

And yeah… I suppose this post isn’t what you thought it would be, but band camp has been my first impression of BYU, and I’ve loved it. My dorm and ward will be things I will need to get accustomed to, as well as lacking a motor vehicle. But I know that this is going to be an amazing experience to come.

A Fresh Start In Life

I am finally here in Provo. It all feels very strange to me. I’m sure that is because I have complicated the process and I wish I could just relax. But it’s only two weeks until band camp, and until then I need to practice repertoire for band auditions, memorize marching band music, purchase equipment, and straighten out what exactly I will be studying this coming semester. And freshman orientation is at the same time as band camp. Who thought that up? I hope things will get easier as time goes on. But it doesn’t seem like there’s very much time left do prepare for anything. Life is a tiny little thing draining before my eyes. Better hurry and learn to enjoy it before it is too late!

NATS, shows…

After rehearsing every day and finding no time at all, the Damascus High School drama club performed How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with an extra matinee Saturday afternoon! It all happened so fast. I had been waiting for this week to be over for a long time… I am actually quite glad it is. I am still dreading trying to learn everything we’ve been learning in BC Calc for the past week and doing all that homework. That really isn’t important anyway, although it would be nice to start doing well in that class. Anyway the shows were wonderful! Three hours each, and I got to play a variety of music on my keyboard.

Due to accompanying NATS particpants earlier Saturday, I had to rush in a half hour late to the matinee. Thank Mrs. Berry for being there to cover for me! She is awesome. Also, Mrs. Williams, who graciously covered for my last audition at NATS, which would have made me miss that entire show. I am lucky to know these people! It was a fun time running around all day. But now it’s over. The business will not end anytime soon!

The Music Marathon

The Music Marathon, a DHS Music Boosters fundraiser, is 26.2 continuous hours of music at The Music Cafe. Needless to say it was a lot of fun – 3 bucks to see a variety of performance for hours on end? Yup. Some were just for fun but others were simply amazing. I stayed from 2:30PM til midnight. Took a couple breaks in between, but didn’t miss that much.

It was good to see all the people there. Pretty much a huge party, but my kind of style πŸ™‚ Playing the piano for Sam, Tyler, and Nick and some of the cast for the school musical was a gratifying experience. The piano kind of sucked… whatever.

I also jammed with Ryan and Nathan and his bro. I have to admit I was freaking out because it would mostly be improv since I hadn’t gotten all of the chords down, but it ended up being pretty fun. After I figured out what key we were playing in.

Yeah, I did have fifteen minutes to myself on the piano. I didn’t feel as much a lack of preparation because I did have music. But I was pretty distracted, not only from the awful noises coming out of the piano and the endless chatter which I expected, but the kids playing their instruments simultaneously on-stage… that probably annoyed me the most. After all that I wasn’t feeling the music come alive, which is the only true reward that a person can get from a performance. So I left after that, but it had been a long day and night. It’d be cool to go back now, but we’ve got to go to church. Fabulous idea, they better do it again next year!

The Music Ed Interview

This morning, I got up at 7AM anxiously getting ready for the day at College Park. Wasn’t that easy getting up but I wasn’t going to risk being late. My schedule was pretty simple – 10:00 Clarinet Audition, 12:00 Tour, 12:30 Mandatory Information Session, and 2:15 Group Interview.

So we had to drop off Megan at school before leaving, which was almost 9AM. My mom said she knew where we were going, since we’ve been to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center many times. But the traffic on 495 was so bad and she freaked out after missing the exit and I thought cheap mlb jerseys I would be late to the audition. I did plan on being a half hour early to warm up, but that wasn’t be the case.

So it was vacances 9:55 and I ran into the building out of Paragraph the cold. After a few turns I wholesale jerseys found the registration desk and took my place behind Tour the queue of other students. wholesale mlb jerseys I finally got to the front and got my mugshot photo taken. It was already 10 by then, so I had to debate if I would go warm up, since there was no time and I wouldn’t want to be late. But the door to the audition room was just unlocked and I stepped inside. The Cartoon: clarinet professors had just got there since I was first and they let me play a few notes before I would perform. They were very friendly, but they didn’t reveal any the results. I know I could have done better, but I was in a rush and otherwise it sounded great.

By the time 12 came around I found a few friends to chat with. The tour and music education information session went by fine, while I was bit tired but I listened in.

Then it was time for the interview and I was getting really nervous, Secret as I had nothing prepared. We were and welcomed in as a small group of music ed applicants and seated around a table with Professors Carter, Hewitt, and Montgomery. After we introduced ourselves, I’m not going to give too much away because future applicants need the experience. However, it was a 45 minutes well spent and it was a lot of fun.

So I was finally able to get home by 4PM after having spent most of the day at the Arts Center. I can’t wait until February, by which time I will be informed of the An results!