The English countryside has given me some time to really think about the grad school process so far.
After a lot of tedious work on my personal statements and resume, as well as a bit of a frustrating process of dealing with my pre-screen material, grad school apps are done and I have my auditions planned out for February. My solo rep is coming together, my excerpts are tediously being learned, and I am EXCITED about moving away from Wheaton. Seems like it’s all falling into place like it should be, right?
I recently had a lesson with Svet Stoyanov down in Miami in hopes to make a strong connection before the audition came around. Not only was the lesson absolutely wonderful, he went an hour over the time he had set up for us and carved pretty deep into my playing to really help develop the best possible musician I could be. I think I grew in my understanding of the marimba more in this one lesson than I have in an entire semester. This (and the weather, O.M.G.) makes me want to go so, so, so, so bad because I know how much I will absolutely grow in my playing there.
But grad schools are looking for people with more than potential and proficiency: they are looking for the best. The reality after that lesson was that the possibility of my acceptance is slim to none.
Slim unless I can change some of my fundamental approaches and sounds on my instrument.
The reality is I have all the technique, all the fine-tuned muscles, all the abilities to read music, and the experience to be the best and make it into these schools. But the reality is also that I have all of these skills and still don’t sounds good.
And that’s a hard pill to swallow.
It’s a pill that really makes me want to stop, withdraw my applications, and find something else to do with my life. If I’ve spent four years of my life trying to sound good and still can’t, why do I deserve the next step? If I can’t hurdle this wall that has been holding me back for so long, I will not be able to keep moving forward.
I could stay in that mindset, but I have at the potential to CHANGE this reality. While Svet really nailed me for some pretty big problems (which I needed him too, and am really glad he did), he also encouraged me in that I have a good enough ear to listen for these changes that I need to make. In fact, I picked up on them fast. I don’t know if it will be fast enough to make a favorable impression in February, but at least it is a start.
Sylvia told me recently that she doesn’t think I’ve ever actually failed. Yes, I’ve had some not hot auditions, I’ve had some clunky performances, I haven’t won every competition I’ve ever entered; but I have never been turned completely away by something. And maybe this part of the process is where I learn to fail. Honestly, I’ve set myself up pretty well to not fail, which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing — and that’s why I believe this: If you aren’t failing, you are either perfect, or you are not pushing yourself enough. I cannot grow unless I fail.
I just have to be ready to stand through it and try harder next time through. The grad school process might take longer than just this year: I may have to reapply, I may have to travel and take lessons multiple times a year, I may have to find a way to make money, I may have to live from home, I may have to just accept that I’m not ready even when I WANT to be.
And these things are ok — There’s no shame in failing and trying again, no shame in living at home for a bit, no shame in not being ready — It’s a part of the process isn’t it?
So next step — audition.
Then, accept that the outcome will be what it needs to be and that I don’t have to ready just yet. Here’s to a new year of new opportunities wherever I end up.