Graduate school has always been in the cards, for a few of the following reasons.
- I LOVE school. I always have. The study, the work, the exploration, the projects, the community of learning, the new beginnings every semester.
- Continuing education is a family tradition. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and both parents went to do further education beyond their undergraduate degree. My grandmother is always checking in to see what my post-graduate plans are. If she had it her way I would pursue a doctorate in musicology (certainly not a track I would mind pursuing, just not in this lifetime).
- My mentors, the teachers I look up to who have helped me establish myself as a teacher, all received masters and some received doctorates. Their stories of success includes further education at respected institutions.
- And, of course, I have plenty more to learn.
These four items, though significant, don’t mean I should automatically attend graduate school. I constantly question the necessity of spending another two to eight years and tens of thousands of dollars on more certificates to establish my expertise. Would having a graduate degree really make me a better teacher? Would it really give me the opportunities and connections I need? Would there be skills in graduate school I would learn if I weren’t working to educate myself?
I’ve decided the answer is yes.
At fresh inc. Fifth House Ensemble repeatedly told us the two most important elements of a successful music career is having the “goods” and building a network.
I can attribute all of the major steps in my career to my “goods” and network. My mom and grandmother enrolled me in lessons with Deanna Badgett because we had family friends who studied with her. My best friends from summer institutes informed me on the audition processes of other important summer festivals. My successful audition to UT Austin was in no small part due to the “goods” I worked hard to attain in high school and the letters of recommendation from respected teachers in Austin. My first role in String Project, interning, was offered to me by Dr. Scott via email who I had taken a few lessons with during high school. And the opportunity to work at Monarch Suzuki Academy was offered while I was being driven home by the director, whose daughter I had just babysat. She knew I had already done books of Suzuki training and was on a path to teaching full time. All of these opportunities were the result of “goods” and a network.
As I come close to the completion of my undergraduate degree I acknowledge what I’ve learned in my time at this institution — what has happened at the University of Texas.
- Most importantly, school allowed me to dial in on exactly what I wanted to do and gave me the motivation I needed to start accomplishing. (I’m thinking about lessons with Sandy, string pedagogy, 398 T, researching and writing)
- It immersed me in an environment of quality. Sure there are people in the music building just trying to get by, but there aren’t very many of them. Most students in the school are targeting greatness, whether it is in performance, education, production, or scholarship. It is so valuable to have an environment that normalizes excellence and invites you to redefine what you think is possible
- School gave me the people. When do you often have the opportunity to be surrounded by people passionate about what you are passionate about? We are a concentrated little group of musicians who often look out for and inspire each other. It is this group I’m premiering a new work with. It is this group I go to concerts with on the weekends. It is this group in which I have accountability partners and mentors.
- I was fortunate enough to not need to pay for my schooling or boarding, so my undergraduate degree gave me the opportunity to live outside of scarcity mindset and to fill up my time with the deep work necessary to prepare for my career (violin, communication, sequence).
Knowing the value my undergrad degree has provided, and knowing the way I have taken advantage of the resources available, I am confident I will make a graduate school degree worthwhile. I have more “goods” to establish and, because I’ve been in central Texas all my life, have plenty of more networking to do.
With the help of my teacher I decided on five schools that will contribute to significantly furthering my education.
Cleveland Institute of Music, MM in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy. This is where my professor, Sandy Yamamoto, did her undergraduate and graduate degree. It is a highly selective and intensive program including some of the best instruction on Suzuki pedagogy in the country.
Arizona State University, MM in Performance Pedagogy. This public research institution is recognized as a leader in innovation. Not only would I work towards a degree in performance and pedagogy, but I would also engage with the new civic practice in the arts initiative.
Ithaca College, MM in Suzuki Pedagogy. At one of the other best pedagogy programs in the country I would put knowledge into practice and work hands on with leading Suzuki pedagogue, Carrie Reuning-Hummel.
University of Wisconsin-Maddison, MM in Violin Performance. This is the top recommendation of my teacher who knows that at Maddison I would be in the hands of excellent instructors and be in a caring environment. But brrrr.
University of Colorado-Boulder, MM in Performance and Pedagogy. Perhaps the city in which I would most want to live, this is a university with excellent solo violin instruction, a strong education program, and the Takacs quartet in residence.
In the net few months I will prepare audition repertoire, my applications materials, solicit letters of recommendation, and visit several of the universities. I will share my questions, my fears, my joys, and my decisions here as I continue my pursuit of the “goods” and a larger community in graduate school.