From 4th Grade Opera Singer to Juilliard
My story is like a lot of others: I found my passions as a little kid. My family still tells the story of me singing call-and-response style when I was a baby or dancing on the bleachers during a Tiger’s baseball game when I was a child. My parents not stage parents, but they saw that I had an interest for music and performance and tried to foster that as much as they could. My family is appreciative music but, aside from my mom’s middle school stage debut as an understudy in ‘Annie’, they are not musicians themselves. There is some debate amongst us as to where I ‘got’ my musical abilities.
As with most of the significant musical achievements of my life, my first stage credit was the result of my mom encouraging me to try new things. My first audition was for a supernumerary (non-speaking, non-singing) role in an opera: my first performance, my first professional show, and my first opera, all in one. The special thing about this experience is that, while I was auditioning, they invited parents to audition as well, so my mother was cast and got to share my first experience with me. We both still talk about how different my life would be if she hadn’t agreed to sit in rush hour traffic on the way to that audition.
From there, I was hooked. I started singing in choir, musicals, and auditioned for the Michigan Opera Theatre’s newly formed children’s chorus, a program that would change my life and nourish my growing passion for being onstage. Now that I am older, I can really appreciate the amazing opportunity I was afforded in that choir. I learned so many things about musicality, discipline, and professionalism at 10 years old from my experience. Most of the lessons I learned in the children’s chorus are still relevant to me today. I don’t think I would be writing this blog for Juilliard had it not been for my teachers there.
By the time I was in high school, music had become such a big part of my life that it was, quite literally, the only thing I did. The phrase “I can’t _________, I have rehearsal” seemed to have become my catchphrase. In 2015, without really knowing what I was getting myself into, I applied to YoungArts, a program for high school students ages 15-18 who have a passion for various artistic disciplines. Assuming it was just another competition, I applied and was accepted, taken very much aback when I found out that it entailed an all-expenses paid trip to Miami, and an incredibly generous scholarship. YoungArts was the time in my life where classical music became more than a hobby for me. I finally was able to commit to the idea of being a professional artist. YoungArts was another one of the ‘I-don’t-know-where-I’d-be-without-it’ moments in my life.
And the most recent step in my journey thus far, Juilliard! When it came time to apply for music schools, I was encouraged to apply to Juilliard. I knew how prestigious the name was, so I applied, if nothing else, for the experience. When I passed the pre-screen, and got the live audition, and the callback, I was a little stunned by how quickly my dreams were becoming a reality. I am so happy with my decision to come to Juilliard. The environment is challenging, but encouraging. Sure, there are tough days, but I could not have imagined being in college anywhere else. Whatever your artistic story is, Juilliard is a fabulous place to learn and develop your skills.