In my house, college was spoken about as if it was for other people.
"Maybe you could go to college and play the violin after you retire from a real job. You don't have any money..."
Was my parents' mantra every time I brought up education.
So, it took 4 years after I graduated from high school to even consider being able to go to college. And... I went from fully believing that I was NEVER going to attend college and be a professional violinist to ~ GRADUATING and BECOMING ~ a concert violinist and freelancing in more than 10 different orchestras. I was so busy as a musician that I could barely stay in once place 9 months out of the year! I had a blast!
It was my dream come true but it didn't happen overnight. The first thing I needed was money.
Do you want to know how I got my first bit of money to go to college? It was a car accident. Without a scholarship or hope to even pay for a dorm room or a decent meal plan, I was driving through an intersection and a truck carrying a load of bricks slammed into the side of my car. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt too badly and when the shock wore off I thought, Hey! I just might be able to use this situation and get myself into college!! And I did! I received a bit of money from the accident, applied to a small university and never looked back.
How I got in: To audition for this university I used a recording that I made when I auditioned for Interlochen at the age of 15. (I remember. It was a recording of the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 and some scales.) I figured if it was good enough to get me into Interlochen for the summer, it would be good enough for a university and it worked.
Why did I use a seven year old tape for an audition? Because from the ages of 17 to 22, I was working so many odd jobs that I was unable to play my violin for 5 years.
So, basically an old cassette tape was my audition and getting slammed into by a truckload of bricks was my first scholarship. That was how I started college. But getting in was just the start. Staying in was my next challenge.
My path though college was a rough one in which I barely had any money. The money I received from the accident was enough to get me into college but not enough to sustain me for the entire year. Also, I did receive a small scholarship from this university and that helped a bit but it still was not enough to feed me.
I was the poster child for the saying “Starving College Student”. I could only afford a one meal a day plan and was so starved in college I actually wound up in the hospital after my first year! After a summer of recuperating, I did some research at the local library and found that I could get a grant and a loan from the government. That helped so much that in another year I was able to attend a larger and better university.
I graduated from (my favorite university) Northern Arizona University
after attending the University of Nevada-Reno (my first school), the University of Cincinnati, and Cleveland State University. (Yes, I travelled a lot!)
This graduation was a huge win. I distinctly remember going up, taking my diploma, shaking the presenter’s hand and walking back into the audience! It felt amazing! I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college and it was a win that I could barely believe!
And I fully recognized one thing: Music was what got me into college and what kept me in and I will forever be grateful.
Music forced me to think differently and it opened doors that I didn’t even know existed.
Music taught me to take chances and never give up because if you work at something long enough and thoughtful enough, you will get better!
Music taught me to reach further and stretch my goals and brought me around people who worked to reach further and raise the bar.
But, it wasn’t until I started teaching my own students that I actually saw the benefit of this musical miracle.
If you already play an instrument and want to experience this amazing ability you already have at your fingertips, send me a note. If you want to get organized, attend mock auditions, and meet experts who will help you reinvent yourself into the best college applicant ever, send me a note. Make new friends as you create a bridge across the gap between high school and college. Go for it! What are you waiting for?