In October of my sophomore year, I remember Tim Bakland tapping me on the shoulder every-other day asking me if I wanted to audition for “districts.” I was always distracted by the things that I thought were more important (trust me, they weren’t) and quite frankly, didn’t give it much thought. After a few more taps on the shoulder, I decided to register and prepare the audition song. I incorporated the audition song, “April is in Mistress’ Spring”, into my daily morning ritual of a quick cup of black coffee and some Cinnamon Life Cereal. I would blast this classical, poignant song through my petite Apple Earbuds while skimming the World News Headlines at the bottom of the television. I decided to take a few voice lessons to work on sight singing before the test with my voice teacher, Tiffany. We reviewed easy ways to find the most common intervals. After all, what’s easier: memorizing the definition of a perfect fourth or just remembering that it’s always the “Here comes” part out of “Here Comes the Bride!” A perfect fifth? Easy. It’s the beginning of the Stars Wars Theme. I know, I’m lame, I’ve never seen the Star Wars movies, but everyone knows John William’s smash hit from the beginning of the movie. What about a major sixth? No one likes sixths, but hey, the examiners at districts sure do. When in doubt, just think the first two notes of the NBC jingle. The practice sight singing exercises turned into something like “Here comes, NB, dun dun, here comes, half step, Some-where (over the rainbow).”
I felt somewhat confident going into the audition, but my nerves never fail to haunt me during auditions. When I walked into the audition room at North Andover High School, the most sincere and gentle old lady greeted me. I sang the song to the tape they provided and did my best with the sight singing. The crazy mnemonic devices I came up with were way to embarrassing to actually sing to the examiner, but they were buzzing through my head as I tackled each note, one by one.
A few days later, the news came. I was accepted into districts with an all-state recommendation. I was ecstatic; I felt proud of my hard work and I was ready to take on the challenge of auditioning for All-State. The song was much harder, and unfortunately, my little intervals tricks weren’t going to cut it for the all-state singing. I spent the next several months preparing for the audition. I figured out new ways to approach the sight singing through working with Tim Bakland and Tiffany. The two-day waiting period in between the All-State audition and the results was filled with no sleep, lots of coffee, and endless mind games.
Before I knew it, after multiple audition processes, I made my way from Lowell High School for Northeastern districts to Symphony Hall in Boston for All-State, and finally to The Grand Ole Opry for All-Nationals. The experience I had in Nashville was truly life changing for me, both as a musician and as a person. It helped me grow in ways that I never could’ve imagine when Tim Bakland suggested I try out for districts.
The most valuable part of the experience for me was the rehearsals. During these blocks of time, we were able to both intensely prepare for the concert and connect with other musicians on a more social level.
I loved the way the rehearsals were run because each thing we did had a purpose. There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who have the same passion as you. When you put a couple hundred musicians in a room together, who find the same joy and comfort in your art form, the music is transcendent. Something “clicked” for me when I was there. It solidified my love of the art and helped me to become more confident and at ease with my passion. I have never felt a greater sense of belonging. We came come together to create something way larger than I could have ever expected, and that is the power of music; it makes people feel, something that we often don’t do enough. I learned things from Edith, the conductor, AND the 200 other singers. I think this collective learning process is what brought the experience to a whole new level. I will never forget the four days I spent in Nashville.