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How Can Music Help Your Teen "Get In!" to College?

It wasn’t until I started teaching my own students that I actually saw the benefit of this musical miracle.

When I moved to San Diego, one of my first (and brilliant) violin students came from a very modest household. I began working with this student when she was in 9th grade. After a year with me, she became a very good violinist. She auditioned for and was accepted into a well known youth symphony in town and did very well. During this time, the youth symphony was desperate for violists. They were so desperate that they were giving a free viola to any violinist who would be willing to change instruments. My student jumped on that. She came to her lesson one day with a viola and asked, “Do you mind?” I said, “Not at all! In fact, if you get going on this viola, you will probably be able to get a scholarship to help you go to college!” Thus, her viola lessons began and during her senior year, I helped her prepare for a few auditions. She sent in her audition tape to her dream school, the University of Notre Dame, and was accepted (with a scholarship) into their music program.

But, there was one more hurdle she had to jump through and neither of us saw this coming.

Even though she had the grades, the SAT score, the wonderful essays and all of the volunteer hours, Notre Dame was not going to accept her. She was rejected!

​All of her work and dreams, gone...

​Completely crestfallen, she informed me of this sad truth at her lesson. I distinctly remember her walking into my studio wearing a R.I.T. (Rochester Institute of Technology and it should have had the acronym R.I.P. from the looks of her) baseball cap instead of her usual Notre Dame baseball cap. She was on the verge of tears and I felt horrible!

​Then, I had an idea. “Call the music department and tell them you didn’t get in.”

I wasn’t sure if this idea would work but it was worth a try. (I mean, from my stand point and how I got into college, a rejection letter is just a piece of paper and a college is a business so it was time to negotiate.) And, she did just that. She called the music department and found out that they only had 3 violas in their orchestra. So, much like the youth symphony, they desperately needed violists! The music department pushed back against this rejection by Notre Dame’s admissions office and she "Got In!" She attended the college of her dreams and graduated with a degree in Mathematics . In fact, she now runs her own math tutoring business and I am extremely proud of her!

​This experience is one of the many great lessons I received from my incredible students and from my own struggles when I was a teen and desperately wanted to go to a university but had to get a job instead because I had not help and no clue. Now I apply my knowledge to high school students everywhere! If I had someone helping me understand how to apply for scholarships, loans and even how to apply for college, things would have been very different. It is as if teens and their parents are expected to magically transform into this person they need to be and every university will open their doors or if they just send out enough applications they will hopefully get in somewhere. Don't throw your applications into the wind and take a chance. Go for what you want and allow me the opportunity to help you "Get In!"

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