Over the past four years, I have had countless experiences
at DePaul that I will remember for the rest of my life. Aside from making great
friends and getting a high quality education, the city of Chicago has given me
some of the best memories. Here are five of the most memorable things I’ve done
while at DePaul over the past four years:
1. Chicago Jazz Festival
At the beginning of September, Chicago hosts a jazz festival
downtown in Millennium Park. I loved bringing a blanket and a picnic with a
couple of friends, sharing a view stories and laughs and listening to
world-class jazz performances (all for free!) Usually the discover Chicago
class for music students ends with attending a jazz concert – I will miss
laying on the grass, watching sunsets over lake Michigan and being a train ride
away from one of the best and biggest outdoor venues in our country.
2. Student Leadership Institute, Winter Leadership
During the winter of my freshman year, I had the opportunity
to attend the winter leadership conference in Zion, Illinois. At no expense to
me, I got to stay in a hotel on Lake Michigan, eat delicious meals and
participate in group discussions and activities about how to be a good leader
and be a positive role model on campus and beyond. I learned so much about
myself and met some great people along the way.
If you’ve been reading my blog this year, you know I am
obsessed with bakeries. I have loved trying new places – cupcakes, pies,
cookies, doughnuts – I love it all! I will miss having adventures to new sweet
spots, but I know where I will be stopping first when I come for a visit… check
out my favorites: Dinkel’s, West Town Bakery, Stan’s Donuts, Sweet Mandy B’s,
Molly’s Cupcakes, Bake, Swirlz, Twisted Baker
4. Bowling nights and attending ILMEA
I had the privilege of being the president of the DePaul
chapter of NAfME, or the National Association for Music Educators. I had a
great time road tripping down to Peoria for the Illinois Music Education Conference – not only did I grow as an educator, but it was a full weekend of
spending time with my peers, networking with professionals and purchasing new
music and equipment. We also started a new tradition of going bowling at the
end of the school year at Diversey River bowl – a great celebration of all the
hard work we do each year!
5. All of these things:
Eating Chicago-style pizza, going to Cubs games, seeing the
Chicago Symphony, sitting on the beach, running races downtown, performing in
different venues, teaching in local schools, singing in the church choir at St.Paul’s, traveling to Africa and collaborating with my awesome peers!
Memories at DePaul go way beyond the classroom – Chicago is
Though I’m looking forward to moving out of the city and starting my new job, there are a few things that I will really miss about being a college student in Chicago. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to see The King and I at the Lyric Opera – I hadn’t been since I saw Cinderella in the fall! I grabbed a couple $20 student tickets for Will and I attended a 7pm show.
The Lyric Opera House started a new annual tradition of bringing a musical to their stage every spring – seeing Oklahoma! In 2013 was one of the best moments of my life! Seeing professional operas is always a great experience, but I find musicals to be really fun and easy to understand (generally pretty uplifting and light – perfect for a date night!) The King and I is the story of a teacher who travels to Siam to teach the children in the king’s palace, but in the end her influence goes beyond English and arithmetic. It was a beautiful story about learning to respect others and how to experience love. The costumes, sets and songs were breath-taking and I would recommend the show to everyone.
Just a few days later I attended the annual DePaul symphony concert at Symphony Center. Every spring DePaul’s symphony (the top orchestra) has the opportunity to perform downtown on the same stage as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – too cool if you ask me! All DePaul students are able to get free tickets to the event, which was an added bonus. It was bittersweet – I loved seeing my best friend, Kelsey, performing in such an amazing venue, but it was also sad in that it could be a while until I see Kelsey perform again or see a symphony concert at all. I’m glad that I will be living close enough to the city that I can get to a CSO concert when I need to be re-inspired to practice…
With only three weeks of college remaining, I’ve started a bucket list of things I want to do before I move away – going to the Lyric and the DePaul symphony concert were two of them! I’m still hoping to find the best Chicago hot dog, attend a couple of shows and go back to all of my favorite places one last time. Trying to stay motivated to get my school work done as best I can!
In light of the big and exciting new changes approaching
quickly in my life, I can’t help but reflect on the decisions I’ve made to get
to where I am. Not only has DePaul prepared me academically for my next steps,
but has also encouraged me to take ownership over my life – by renting an
apartment, engaging in my community and working in the city I feel more
prepared for post-grad life than I ever though I would! Here are a few things
I’m SO glad I did during my time at DePaul, which I may not have done otherwise
at another university.
Opened up a credit card
It seems terrifying, but opening up a
credit card was one of the best decisions I made during college. Building
credit is really important when you’re looking for an apartment, a car and sometimes
even a job! I was able to nail down my first post-college apartment without
help from my parents because of my good credit and references. Discover is
great for a student card!
Lived off campus
Living in my own apartment during college
taught me the importance of knowing how to cook, clean and get along with
people in small places. I learned how to grocery shop on a budget, compare
internet providers and slowly acquired furniture to take to my next home.
Found a church
I have never been a very religious person,
but one of my first missions when I moved to Chicago was to find a church
community. By becoming a member at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, I made
some of my closest friends, networked with professionals in the area and built
relationships with people I can rely on. I had a supportive environment to
escape to when school was getting me down – I will miss St. Paul’s when I move
Worked A LOT of different jobs
During the last four years I worked at
Chicago’s Skydeck, a small frozen yogurt shop, a cupcake bakery, in the DePaul music admissions office, as a Chicago Quarter Mentor, as a blogger and as a
babysitter – yikes! Having all these jobs taught me a lot about working with
the public, and it’s nice to know that if teaching doesn’t work out (unlikely),
I’ve got a resume full of other things I’m good at!
Not only has DePaul given me the resources to
be a phenomenal teacher, but has also provided me with the skills necessary to
transition smoothly into adult life. (I’m realizing this now more than ever
before!) I’ve been very fortunate to learn and grow in this amazing city – I know I’ll be back sooner or later!
I think I’ve most definitely said this before, but the
opportunities for performing in the city of Chicago are endless. Even when you
aren’t looking, they get dropped in your lap!
I’ve been pretty busy over the last few weeks, but when I
got an email inviting me to perform with the Chicago Symphonic Winds I could
not say no. I was recommended by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Erica Neidlinger, because she is the guest conductor for our upcoming concert. Aside
from getting to play great music with equally great musicians, Dr. Neidlinger
is my idol and I love watching her rehearse and conduct. We’ve been doing an
independent study together this quarter where I have been analyzing wind band repertoire,
working on conducting and helping out with the wind symphony rehearsals. It’s
really cool to be recommended for this kind of opportunity as a music education
major – it feels great to be respected as a musician even though my main focus
The Chicago Symphonic Winds is a non-profit organization of
instrumentalists who want to keep wind literature (aka band music) alive. Not
only do they perform several concerts a year, but also participate in
educational outreach to bring music to local schools. You can read more about
their mission here.
We had our first rehearsal last week and I was blown away by the musicianship of the other players. Mostly DePaul and Northwestern alumni, the musicians volunteer their time and talents to the ensemble. It was also really neat to be playing with people who I once played with at DePaul – it’s comforting to know that they are sticking with their passion and continuing to grow as professionals.
DePaul music students perform all over the city and country.
Several of my classmates play with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training
orchestra for the Chicago Symphony! Others have started their own ensembles and
performed in master classes with people like Chris Martin (trumpet), Frank Forst (bassoon) and other successful musicians. My best friend Kelsey is
attending both the National Orchestral Institute in Maryland and the
Northwestern Summer Violin Institute over the summer, and many of our peers are
headed off to other summer festivals, too!
The program for this concert is “Suite Francaise” by Darius
Milhaud, “Variants on a Medieval Tune" by Dello Joio and “Sinfonietta for Concert Band” by Ingolf Dahl. If you don’t know any of these pieces, just trust me
when I tell you this is a great concert!
A local organization that is near and dear to my heart is
the Greater Illinois Multiple Sclerosis Society.
My boyfriend of three years was diagnosed with MS the year before he started attending DePaul, and over the course of our relationship I have learned a lot about the disease and how it affects those who have it. For the 3rd time, both Will’s family and my family participated in the annual 3-mile walk to support the MS society over
the weekend regardless of the cold, overcast weather!
Multiple Sclerosis involves the central nervous system of
the body. Basically, the immune system attacks the myelin that surrounds nerve
fibers – myelin is a fatty, protective coating around nerves in the central
nervous system. When the myelin is damaged, signals going to the brain are
interrupted, causing symptoms like dizziness, difficulty walking and memory
loss. People with MS often have grey legions on their brains and spines, which
are scars from the damaged myelin. There is currently no cure for MS, which is
why the organization holds fundraisers to help with research, clinic trials and
support programs to help those affected. If you’d like to know more about Will’s
story, you can check out his fundraising page!
Walking 3-miles is not an easy feat for many who have
Multiple Sclerosis, so I’m always unbelievable proud of Will after this event.
He fundraised almost $900 for the organization and was ready to walk more once
we were finished – though not the best conditions, I think the cooler weather
was helpful in keeping us moving. We scored a ton of free bags, tee shirts,
umbrellas and towels… plus I won $10 on a scratch ticket! It was truly a great
day for all.
I’m really glad that I’ll be moving within driving distance
of the city so I can make it to the Walk MS for the 4th time next
Congratulations accepted students! Decisions for the DePaul School of Music have finally been sent out and we all are anxiously waiting to
see who decides to join our community in the fall. Choosing a college and
enrolling is extremely exciting – but it can also be overwhelming! As an
employee of the music admissions office, I thought I’d give you few tips to ease
your transition into DePaul (plus some reasons why you should choose us!)
1. Do your research
before making a decision.
What is the mission of the college? What academic resources
will you have access to? What kinds of clubs are available? Will there be
internship opportunities? What are the perks of being a student at DePaul?
Where is the campus? What are the facilities like? What are the college’s
strengths and weaknesses? Can you study abroad?
Check out these amazing DePaul resources: The Writing Center, Career Center, Ray Meyer Fitness Center, University Counseling, DePaul Central, Financial Fitness Program, Study Abroad Program
2. Music students
only: Relax, You’re guaranteed on-campus housing!
All incoming undergraduate music students are guaranteed on-campus housing. What does
this mean? As long as you get your housing paperwork in on time, you will not be turned away or put on a
wait list. Keep in mind that you are not required to live on campus – though we
do suggest it for your first year at DePaul! Field trips, free food and new friends? who wouldn't want to live on campus.
3. Sit in on classes,
take a tour and pick a current student’s brain.
The Music School is currently offering 1:30pm info sessions and tours Monday-Friday, but we are more than happy to arrange custom visits to
show you why DePaul is the place to be! Want to see a music theory class, intro
to music education or orchestra rehearsal? How about a tour of our new and
improved practice rooms? Call or email the music admissions office to set up a
4. Join the Official
DePaul University Class of 2020 Facebook page.
You’ll be able to ask questions and get to know other
admitted students! DePaul organizations often post useful information about
housing, orientation and exciting events designed just for you. Also “like” the
DePaul School of Music page for updates about current students, construction
and fun facts!
Choosing a university can be really challenging with high
attendance costs and (potentially) leaving home for the first time. I hope that
you will consider DePaul for your next educational journey! As always, you can
contact the music admissions office with any questions or concerns – you might
even get me on the phone! DePaul is a great place to be, and I think you will
With less than two months of school left, preparing for life
post-DePaul is scary, exciting and stressful all at the same time! Though my
main focus should be on finishing my classes, maintaining my GPA and enjoying
my time in the city, I can’t help but worry about what is happening next –
where will I work? Where will I live? What will happen to my relationships, and
how will I go about building new ones? I feel like I’ve had job applications on
my mind more than anything else – until this past week when my post-grad status shifted from unknown to employed!
After only filling out a few job applications, I’ve
officially been hired by a school district to teach 5th-12th
grade band. For this particular school, I had a FaceTime interview due to
distance after submitting my application materials through email. The
superintendent and I had a great conversation about the direction of their band
program and the ways in which I could help provide a challenging and enjoyable
learning environment for their students. Within three hours I had received the
job offer! Taking the advice of my advisor, I made the three hour trip to the
school to make sure it would be a good fit before making any kind of decision.
Once I had seen the school, spoken with both principals and discussed further
job requirements, I had no doubt in my mind that this was the job for me. I
signed my contract and am now eagerly waiting to start my first job as a
real-life teacher this August!
This new job will pose a lot of new challenges for me, and I
couldn’t be more thrilled. I will be responsible for teaching 5th-12th
grade band (probably about 65-70 students), with the expectation that I will
begin a marching band, prepare students for ILMEA auditions and perform several
times a year. The school is located in rural Illinois, just about 3 hours
outside of Chicago – certainly a drastic shift from the environment I’ve been
living in these past four years! Aside from teaching and having ownership over
my band program, I’m really looking forward to fresh vegetables from local
farms, starry night skies and forming new relationships with my new co-workers
and neighbors. I might even think about getting a pet to keep me company!
It is pretty uncommon for teachers, especially
fresh-out-of-college teachers, to be hired this early before the start of the
next school year. I consider myself extremely lucky to already have a plan in
place! Being a DePaul student has prepared me so well – I know that all of my
graduating colleagues will be successful because of the education we have
received here, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.
For now, I’ll be doing my best to stay focused and get my
physics homework in on time. Only 6 more weeks until graduation and the start
of the next chapter of my life!
Another race in the books! Over the weekend my gal pal,
Kelsey, and I ran the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k for the 3rd
time. I’ve been able to do several races during my time in Chicago – and this
one is by far my favorite! 8 kilometers translates roughly to 4.97 miles,
making it a quick, accessible run for people of all ability levels!
What I love most about the Shamrock Shuffle is the course –
with several major streets shut down, over 23,000 runners took over the city.
There is nothing cooler than running in the middle of the Michigan Avenue and
seeing the Chicago skyline. Even better, regardless of 23,000 people, I had no
issue keeping my own pace and having my own space! There were quite a few
“hills” on the course, which are never easy, but the adrenaline pumping through
my veins made it all seem like a piece of cake.
It wasn’t my best time ever, but I kept my goal of finishing
in less than an hour. I finished the 4.97 miles in 59 minutes and 40 seconds –
putting me roughly at 12:00 minutes per mile. Out of 23,435 runners, I placed
18,215th… but who’s counting!
Following the race, we treated ourselves to a well-deserved
breakfast at Sam & George’s, a restaurant near our apartments. There is
nothing better than a big skillet and coffee to replace those burned calories!
I was so grateful for a day full of my favorite things: running, eating and
spending time with my friends.
One of the things I will definitely miss the most about
Chicago, assuming I’m not living here post-graduation, is running by the lake
and through the city. In the last four years I’ve run several races: The Hot Chocolate 15k, Grant Park Turkey Trot 5k, Crosstown Classic 10k, Shamrock Shuffle 8k, the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon and a few other small races that I
just can’t remember! I’ll also be doing the Walk MS 5k for the 3rd
time in a few weeks – I just can’t get enough of all Chicago has to offer for
helping me stay active.
I will miss our tradition of running the Shamrock Shuffle,
but I’ll always keep with me the memories that Kelsey and I shared in all of
our running adventures over the past few years.
For all you vocalists out there –
or maybe even if you just enjoy opera – DePaul students blew me away a few weekends ago in their performance of Die Fledermaus at the Merle Reskin Theatre downtown. Accompanied by a full
orchestra under the direction of Steven Mosteller, DePaul Opera Theatre put on an amazing performance, I'd say the best one I've seen by DePaul students! DePaul Opera Theatre does three operas a year; the fall and spring operas are performed
at DePaul’s concert hall, but every winter DePaul students take the stage at
the Merle Reskin Theatre to present a full-blown performance - costumes, sets,
The first thing (but certainly not
best thing, of course!) about going to the opera was that it was FREE. DePaul knows we are
hard-working students, which is why they make sure we have as many
opportunities to see performance as possible without emptying our bank
accounts. Not only did my student ID get me in without paying a penny, I sat in
the fourth row! Some say it’s better to sit in the balcony for better views of
the whole stage…I thought I had the best view in the house. The Merle Reskin is
a really cool theatre with three floors – I was really impressed to see how
many people came out to support my peers.
The two best things about this
Opera were that it was in English and it was hilarious! Die Fledermaus is basically about a man who must report to an
8-day jail sentence – but on his last night before turning himself in, he goes
to a party to meet pretty ladies and drink champagne. His wife finds out and
attends the party as a masked guest and her husband tries to flirt with her. In
the end, the husband finds out it was the wife at the party and is in shock –
however, we find out the whole ordeal was a prank played on the husband by a
friend. My favorite part of the show was when they revealed that it was a
prank - there was dancing, giant champagne bottles and bubbles everywhere! It
was really fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. The music was great and I was
floored by how talented my colleagues are. My best friend, Kelsey, was
assistant concertmaster in the orchestra (second chair violin) – I couldn’t have been more proud!!
There is never a shortage of
amazing performances around here. The opera was so well done - a woman at intermission turned to me and said, "wait...are they all students?!?" Yes Ma'am, they are and they ROCK! I’m really looking forward to the spring
because all of my talented friends will be giving recitals at DePaul! It was
really fun to have a night out and experience a great performance.
It is officially my final quarter at DePaul! Only 10 weeks stand between me and obtaining my undergraduate degree in music education. I’m feeling a lot of things – but mostly excitement! If all goes according to plan, I'll be a full-time teacher in the next 6 months.
Unfortunately, I’m starting spring quarter less rested than I would have liked. I decided to spend my week-long break in Maine with my family with the intention to take a much needed rest and start applying for jobs (yikes!). As soon as I arrived home, I went to the doctor for a cough that had been persisting for a couple of weeks and left with a handful of medications for acute bronchitis. As if having bronchitis wasn’t enough, it got extremely worse over the weekend! I ended up at the doctor’s office 3 times in 5 days and spent my whole break in bed. It was a huge bummer and I didn't get a single application done – at least I was able to spend a little bit of time with my family!
Bronchitis didn’t completely ruin my spring break though – I still had a fabulous Easter! I love everything about Easter…the church service at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, spending time with friends and eating delicious food. I was lucky enough to celebrate on both days of the weekend with both Will’s family and friends I’ve met through my involvement at St. Paul’s.
One of the first things I did when I moved to Chicago was find a church to call “home." My family never went to church when I was growing up – it was through attending with friends that I started to enjoy going. It was just my luck that the church that was of most interest to me is located only one block away from DePaul’s campus! St. Paul’s United Church of Christ invited me in with open arms, and over the last few years I’ve had the great pleasure of singing in the choir and performing on my bassoon in the summer. It’s a great feeling to have a place other than DePaul where people know my name and care about my well-being.
It was through singing in choir that I met Lois and Greg, an older married couple who invited me to join them for my first Easter in Chicago four years ago. Since then, I’ve become best friends with their daughter, Hope, attended several family dinners and receive a formal invitation to Easter brunch every year! It has been so wonderful to have a support system here in Chicago since all of my family is on the East Coast – I’m so grateful to St. Paul’s for helping me create these relationships that will hopefully last my whole life.
Due to some scheduling conflicts, Greg and Lois held their brunch on the Saturday before Easter, which allowed me to join Will’s family for the first time on the holiday. Though I was a little tired due to my week-long battle with Bronchitis, I feel so lucky to have been able to spend time with two families that I care about so much! I might be 1,000 miles away from my own relatives, but having both families in my life has made Chicago feel more like “home” than I ever thought it would.
Lately, I’ve found myself feeling a little skeptical about Facebook. Have you noticed that they show “sponsored ads” based on website that are visited from your computer? How could Facebook possibly know about the dress I was Googling, or the Shamrock Shuffle
that I’ll be running in April? The Internet is a scary place – and quite honestly I’m not sure how I feel about Facebook snooping into my Internet history browser.
That being said, for the first time (and possibly only time) I was intrigued by one of the sponsored ads that popped up – “International A Cappella Semifinals! Get your tickets now!” I will be the first to admit that Pitch Perfect
is one of my favorite movies – so I clicked the link to see what it was all about.
is an organization that puts together a cappella
competitions for both high school and collegiate groups. According to their website, they bring together over 500 high school and college level a cappella groups to stages across the world – who knew a cappella was popular! The Organization brings in professional educators and performers to judge
the competitions and provide feedback to every group – fostering continuous growth is part of the mission of Varsity Vocals.
For this specific competition, there were 10 collegiate a cappella groups from the great lakes region. Some of the colleges represented were University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and Oakland University. Each group performed a “set” of about 3 songs – no instruments, just pure vocals. The amount of talent we witnessed was astounding. I was even more amazed when I learned that each group arranged the music and choreography themselves! I loved the stories each group told through song, and it was clear that every group was excited to share their music with the crowd as much as the crowd was excited to list. (I even caught Will singing along…)
In the end, Oakland University’s a cappella group, Gold Vibrations, received 1st place for their performance, meaning they will advance to the next round of the competition. It was really cool to see how supportive all the other groups were – though I’m sure slightly disappointed after all of their hard work, there seemed to be only scared excitement for Gold Vibrations’ big win.
So, although I do not approve much of Facebook creeping into my Internet usage, I’d say Facebook got it right this time. Had I not seen the sponsored ad, I would have completely missed my opportunity to geek-out at a live a cappella competition. Music is so important in the lives of so many people – and every day I am reminded that becoming a music teacher was the right decision!
For many college students, the opportunity to study abroad
is a must-have when applying for schools. Like most universities, DePaul
offers a ton of options for studying abroad at several different times throughout the year! There are over 40 countries and 70 programs available, and students have the opportunity to travel with non-DePaul programs
as well. If studying abroad is something you might be interested in, DePaul is an option worth exploring.
As a music student, studying abroad does not come as easily as many of us would like. As part of our class requirements, everyone must be in a major ensemble
every quarter to complete their degree within four years – and keep any performance scholarships
you might receive. In light of this scheduling conflict with studying abroad, most students opt to travel during summer and winter break. Many vocalists at DePaul study in Italy over the summer through a program promoted through DePaul. During my sophomore year, I was extremely lucky to have been chosen to travel to Sierra Leone, West Africa for two weeks during our winter break, which helped to fill my wanderlust (aka desire to travel).
My trip to Sierra Leone was two weeks long and happened in December of my sophomore year. Instead of "studying" abroad, the purpose of traveling to Sierra Leone was to teach - which is why I like to call it "teach" abroad instead. Over the course of the trip, we visited four different schools – a music academy, an orphanage for the hearing impaired, an all-girls school and a 1st -8th grade co-ed school. We brought recorders for the children and taught them how to play short songs, danced, sang and donated paper, crayons and cases of water to each school that we visited. It was amazing how well we were able to communicate with the teachers and children even though we did not speak the same language – music is such a powerful medium for communication between cultures. We participated in drum circles, attended a soccer game, walked through major cities and engaged with local people – we also ate goat, cassava and lots and lots of rice and oranges!
Besides engaging in music during my trip, I also got a first-hand look into how lucky we are to have food, water and shelter easily accessible to us here in the U.S. Many of the children we worked with were hungry, thirsty and often extremely malnourished – at times it was very emotional for us. Even so, the children were so excited to have us there with them and seemed so happy and blessed to have loving families and a place to learn every day.
My trip to Sierra Leone was unforgettable – I’ll always remember 6-hour long drives through jungle-like conditions, hearing the prayers from mosques at 4am, bucket showers by candlelight and geckos all over the ceilings. I’ll remember the joy that came with sharing music with others, the smiles and hugs from the children and the sadness that came with leaving them. Above all, I’ll never forget how lucky I am to live in a supportive community of professors, friends and family and how powerful music can be in my life and the lives of others.
When I am feeling overwhelmed with college, the best medicine is to get out into the city and do something fun. It’s easy to forget about all the amazing opportunities that surround us when we are worried about due dates, deadlines and GPAs! Last weekend, Will’s mom requested that we join her at the Art Institute of Chicago to celebrate her birthday – just the stress-relieving adventure I needed! I was super excited for two reasons: I hadn’t been there in two years AND DePaul and the Art Institute have an agreement that admission is FREE for all undergraduate DePaulians this year. What’s better than spending a day appreciating beautiful artwork for free?
In the short amount of time we spent at the institute, I saw a lot of amazing things. I’m currently taking a class about the history of Medieval India to fill my history requirement, so it was really neat to see Islamic Art from the 13th and 14th century empires that existed in India. Seeing art that directly relates to what I’m learning in the classroom really enhanced my understanding of the readings and lectures – Chicago truly is integrated into our curriculum!
There was one more piece of artwork that I found truly fascinating – which ended up being the exhibit that Will’s mom had been dying to see. It was a sculpture called Bronze Bowl with Lace by Ursula Von Rydingsvard. The sculpture was outside due to its towering height and stood alone with the skyline as its background. It was truly beautiful, and you can see in my picture just how huge it was! The work is made from cedar and has a very unique lacing pattern at the very top. I’m really glad we had the opportunity to see it while it’s here, as it will be leaving the Art Institute in mid-April.
The perks that come along with being a college student in the city of Chicago are awesome. We are super lucky this year to have free admission to the Art Institute – but even if we didn’t, all the museums in Chicago have “resident days
” where admission is free or discounted with proof of Illinois residency (giving your zip code usually works!) The only one I have yet to experience is the Adler Planetarium
, but it is high on my lists of to-dos before graduation. I’m definitely re-inspired by my trip to the Art Institute, and I’m looking forward to getting out into the city more the next few months.
When I finished student teaching in the fall, I thought my last two quarters at DePaul would be a breeze. Thinking that taking three classes, instead of six or seven as in previous years, would be a piece of cake, I picked up extra shifts at my work, agreed to more babysitting gigs and committed myself to maintaining a strong GPA through the end of this year. Now almost done with the quarter, I’m realizing that I was very wrong! Though I am still managing to get all my work done, it has been a real challenge to keep up with my various jobs (four, to be exact!) and still make time to relax and see my friends. I think it’s pretty common for college students to overwork themselves, which is why I want to share a few coping skills that have been working for me in dealing with the stress of college.
The first and most important thing I’ve been doing to keep myself afloat is getting enough sleep at night. I have heard horror stories of my peers who have procrastinated so much that giving up a night of sleep is their only way to get work done. THIS IS BAD. Even if I haven’t finished my work for the day, I always make a point to get at least seven hours of sleep at night and wake up earlier if necessary.
Exercising has also been a saving grace for me these last few weeks. Regardless of how much work I have to do, I try my hardest to get to the Ray Meyer Fitness Center at DePaul at least three times a week. Even if I only have time for a quick run or weight lifting session, getting my body moving makes me feel empowered and motivated to get things done.
Though it may not be the healthiest coping mechanism, food helps me get through all of life’s challenges. Often times I’ll set a goal – such as, get all of my homework due Monday done by Friday afternoon – and if I do it, I get a pizza. Who wouldn’t do homework in exchange for pizza? There is nothing more satisfying than a big slice of pepperoni pineapple from Renaldi’s or a massive plate
of beef Pad Thai from Noodles in the Pot after a long week of online quizzes,
discussion posts and readings. Side note: these foods are more satisfying if I
eat well during the week - something I have been striving to do since the
beginning of the New Year!! The addition of a Whole Foods with a gigantic salad
bar on DePaul’s campus has been a dream-come-true for my waist line…
Lastly, my friends are crucial in minimizing the stress of
school. Doing homework with my best friend Kelsey has been a major factor in my
ability to keep up with my classes. Even though our assignments are always
drastically different, it’s still fun to celebrate the completion of a task
with a high-five or another cup of coffee. (Coffee and College go hand-in-hand
for me. Addicted? Maybe. Necessary? Yes.)
One of the major lessons that I have learned this year is
that my education needs to come first. College is becoming more and more
expensive each year, and though DePaul offers great scholarships, student loans can still
be scary! Have bills to pay or enjoy having money for meals, concerts and
experiences? Me too! Working is important for so many college students – myself
included – but never forget that college is for learning first. Enjoy your time
as a student; wherever you end up, never let work negatively interfere with
your success in college.
Enough about me already – let’s talk about another DePaul student that you should know about. Over the past 3.5 years I have had the opportunity to meet and network with some truly phenomenal musicians and teachers. Last week, I had the privilege of attending a performance by my colleague and good friend, Natalie Vanderlaan, a 4th year music education student (like myself) and fabulous vocalist, pianist, and composer. I decided to interview Natalie about some of her recent accomplishments and how DePaul has helped her along the way.
First of all, let me tell you that this girl has accomplished A LOT over the past few years. Here are just a few highlights:
- Member of the DePaul Choirs where she performed works such as Beethoven 9 and the Mozart Requiem.
- A vocalist in Chicago’s annual Schubert celebration,
“Schubertiade” for two years.
- A chorus member for the opera, La Boheme her freshman year.
- Music director at Etc. Music School in Evanston, IL, where
she helps to create and direct original musical theatre for children
kindergarten to 12th grade.
- Music director and pianist for a show at Second City Chicago.
- Regular performer at the DePaul “Lounge” – every Thursday
evening, DePaul brings in student musicians to give performances for anyone who
wants to attend.
Thursday night at the Lounge, located in the DePaul Student Center, was where I saw Natalie perform last week – It was awesome! Not only is
Natalie a great singer, but she also wrote a majority of the songs she
performed. I kid you not; this girl could give Sara Bareilles a run for her
money. I don’t think I could have been more impressed.
In an interview with Natalie after hearing her perform, it
was really awesome to hear her talk about how much DePaul has helped in getting
her to where she is now.
“Through DePaul I’ve learned to be a
compelling and original performer – and to not apologize for taking the stage
and for making a statement” – Natalie Vanderlaan
Natalie said that the most helpful skills she’s learned
came from her music theory, music history and music education classes at
DePaul, and says these classes were really foundational in her recent
accomplishments. Natalie also stressed the importance of collaborating with her
peers - taking advantage of the knowledge and skills of others is crucial for a growing musician and educator.
“I chose DePaul not only for its excellent track record with
music, but also because of the Vincentian ideal and integration into the city
of Chicago. DePaul celebrates and empowers the inherent dignity of every human
being, all while providing us with opportunities to strengthen our skills and
learn through experience in the city”
So true, Natalie. Thank you DePaul, for surrounding me with
some of the most talented friends I could ask for.
As a soon-to-be music teacher, there is nothing more
inspiring than being surrounded by successful teachers and talking about
education. Every year, several DePaul music education students make the
three-hour car trip to Peoria, Illinois to attend the Illinois Music Educators Conference – ILMEA for short. Over the course of two days, I attended four different clinics, two concerts, and a DePaul reception held for current
students and alumni.
This year we were able to bring 13 DePaul students ranging from freshmen to seniors. We took three cars – I was lucky enough to drive a minivan rented from Zipcar –
and arrived early in the evening. We made it in just enough time to attend band and choir performances, which were really good. Since I’m a bassoonist and interested in teaching band, I attended the band concert and absolutely loved all of the music. Listening to quality music played by talented musicians is really motivating and always reminds me of why I love music so much.
The next day, we all went our separate ways and attended hour-long clinics that were most applicable to our interests. Between 8:30am and 5pm, I was able to attend four different clinics: Assessing students in the Performance Classroom, Warm-Ups and Ensemble Development That Work!, a student teaching panel (I was on the panel!!) and a “new music reading” concert where all the pieces were written within the last couple of years. A huge perk of ILMEA are the exhibitors that attend the conference; music and instrument distributors, representatives from different colleges and travel companies are only a few examples. I decided to skip a clinic so I could browse for some new music, and I successfully purchased some new bassoon pieces to work on over the next few months. Although the day was long and exhausting, I felt that I’d learned a lot and had a great experience.
After all the clinics and rehearsals had ended, our group went to a collegiate (college students only) dinner provided by the conference. The idea was that we would be able to meet and greet with students from other universities – but unfortunately the space was too small to accommodate the large number of students who attended! We were able to meet a few people, but we mostly ended up spending more time with each other…but we weren’t complaining. To complete the day, we went to a DePaul reception held in a large hotel room to reconnect with our professors and meet with DePaul School of Music alumni. It was great to see friends who have graduated and hear about the successes of DePaul graduates – it gave me a lot of hope for my own career after graduating! DePaul has prepared me well to be a music teacher, so I have no doubt that I’ll have plenty of success stories, too.
As much as I loved growing up on the East Coast, I was always disappointed with the amount of bakeries that existed in the state of Maine. Finding an ice cream shop or a candy store was never an issue – but when it came to a half-way decent piece of cake or a cookie, no such luck. In terms of satisfying my sweet tooth, Chicago has gone above and beyond my expectations...which is why I’ve decided to fill you in on some of my favorite bakeries, all of which will make your time at DePaul sweet! (pun intended)
Shameless plug – one of the best bakeries in the city happens to be my place of employment. Besides the fact that I LOVE my job frosting cupcakes and making lattes, we serve up about 13 different specialty cupcakes every day of the week. Not really into cupcakes? Grab a delicious cookie or cheesecake for the sugar rush you’re craving. It’s a great place for a study break, date night or a hang with your new college friends!
Literally a 5-minute walk from the DePaul School of Music, Swirlz is a small bakery with a rotating list of amazing cupcakes. My absolute favorite cupcake is the chocolate caramel pretzel – always available on Tuesdays and Fridays! They also have a selection of vegan and gluten-free vegan cupcakes. This is a great place for an afternoon pick-me-up between classes and rehearsals.
Though not particularly close to campus, (about 10 minutes away by train), Dinkel’s is worth the commute. Not only do they serve gigantic cupcakes, they have a huge selection of cookies, pies, doughnuts and breads available every day. They make beautiful cakes, too!
This one is also really close to the DePaul campus! The Twisted Baker is new to the DePaul neighborhood, and it’s a great spot to grab breakfast and get some work done. My boyfriend and I love their egg sandwiches and coffee – they also make decadent tarts, all kinds of scones and unique mini cookies. I love the quiet atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, and friendly staff.
Looking for something a little different? Café Vienna specializes in Austrian baked goods. They are currently only open on the weekends – but it’s definitely worth the wait. They have a great tea selection, and the desserts are so big I usually can’t finish them! I absolutely love the opera cake (vanilla cake with chocolate and espresso buttercream), and I always leave with a few specialty cookies, too. You can check out their unique desserts and tea selection here
As you can tell, I’m a bit of a dessert fanatic. If I had chosen to attend college elsewhere, it’s quite possible I wouldn’t have discovered my love of bakeries – and especially my love for working in one! Thank you, DePaul, for keeping my love of cupcakes alive and fueling me with all the sugar I could possibly want.
Though there are a lot of things I miss about Maine, eating lobster is definitely in the top five. For those of you who are new readers or maybe just don't remember, I lived 18 years of my life in the great state of Maine before moving to Chicago for college. About two weeks ago, my boyfriend, Will, and I were trying to brainstorm a gift for his father’s birthday…and that’s when it hit me. We decided to host a “lobster bake” at his parent's house with real Maine lobster, or “lobstahs’” as we New Englander
's would say, shipped directly from my hometown.
My dad was crucial in this whole process, and I’m so thankful for his help in making this dinner work out last week! He had eight LIVE lobsters sent in a giant box that arrived just in time. I wasn’t at Will’s house when they arrived, but he told me that the FedEx woman was beyond curious about the scratching creatures within the box! As a native of Maine, I knew exactly what to do with them – boil water in a giant pot and start throwing the lobsters in - letting them sit until they turn a bright-red color. It didn’t occur to me that Will’s family had never experienced the full sacrifice of a lobster – not that surprising since seafood doesn’t come as easily, (or cheaply!), around here. Once they broke their emotional attachments with the crustaceans, we put them in the pot, head first, and awaited that bright-red glow.
Will’s mom was extremely helpful in setting up an “authentic” lobster bake dinner. We had melted butter, shell crackers, potato salad, veggies…and plenty of napkins! The lobsters turned out to be “hard-shell”, meaning extremely difficult to crack into – but it made for some good laughs.
Having lobsters packaged, shipped, cooked and served was not an easy task, but it was worth giving Will’s dad a birthday to remember. It also reminded me of home, it’s easy to feel home sick when you’re living so far away! It was really nice to take a break from the craziness of college to celebrate and indulge in one of my childhood favorite foods and pastimes.
I mentioned in a previous blog that I had attended the
Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic right before I went home for
I’d like to give you a little more information on just how AMAZING this event is - Especially for anyone who might be interested in pursuing a degree in instrumental music education!
The Midwest Clinic is a four-day clinic that takes place at
the McCormick Place in Chicago. McCormick Place is a giant convention center with rooms that seat hundreds of people – the perfect size for the thousands of teachers, and future teachers like me, to congregate and nerd-out over instrumental music. I would normally attend all of the days of the clinic, but because of student teaching I was only able to attend one day. There are several concerts, tons of clinics and a room full of almost every music-related business you can think of - there is even a collegiate-track for pre-service teachers called, "Generation Next", which provides clinics that are more applicable for college students!The cost of the
entire clinic for a college student is only $50 dollars – and I’m telling you,
it is worth every penny.
On the day that I attended the clinic, I was able to make it
to three different clinics. There were upwards of 20 clinics and concerts occurring, but I made sure I had time to walk around
exhibits and meet and network with other people. The best clinic I went to was
about a program called United Sound, which is an organization that provides
resources for schools to include students with disabilities into their band and
orchestra programs. In my high school student teaching placement I had the
privilege of working with some diverse learners, and it really impacted my
teaching philosophy in terms of having an inclusive band program. I’m so glad I
attended the United Sound clinic because now I have a resource that I can use
in my own classroom in the future! I also attended a clinic called, “The ten things you must do now before your first job”, which was also very
informational and worth attending.
I’ve learned that as an educator, networking is one of the
most important things you can do. I was really lucky to have a cooperating
teacher, ( the person I did my student teaching with), who introduced me to some band
directors from around the state. Just after a short conversation, it was really
neat to have them say they’d keep their ears open for open teaching
positions…score! It’s inspiring to talk to educators who have built strong band
or orchestra programs – their dedication to and passion for the profession
reminded me why I decided to be a teacher in the first place.
Had I not moved to Chicago and attended DePaul, it’s
possible I wouldn’t have attended the Midwest Clinic at this point in my life.
Not many people I know can say that they experienced a North Texas Wind
Symphony concert before graduating from college! Though I haven’t taught in the
field yet, I still think it’s important to learn as much as possible before
getting on the podium for real. I always take advantage of the exhibitions and
usually walk out with several books for my continually growing resource
library. Attending the Midwest clinic, no matter where I end up after this
year, will always be at the top of my priority list as a teacher and musician.
One of the toughest aspects of wanting to attend music school is the audition process. For those of you who aren’t musicians or don’t plan to apply to music school, auditions are short, live performances that perspective music students must play for an audience of instrument-specific teachers. For example, when I applied to DePaul I had to perform the first movement of a famous Bassoon concerto
and some scales for two bassoon faculty members here on campus. Though academics are still important for getting accepted, the audition often becomes more important in the decision process.
What you might be thinking now is, ‘why are you bringing this up right now?’ DePaul School of Music
audition season is right around the corner! Starting the first weekend in February, musicians from all over the country will be here throughout the month (only on the weekends!) to audition for a spot in the undergraduate and graduate classes for the fall of 2016. It’s an exciting time, but for all those students auditioning it is probably equally or more of a nerve-wracking time. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some information and tips for auditioning at DePaul.
Regardless of major, everyone MUST audition!
It’s important to remember that all of our majors in the school of music require an audition. Are you interested in Sound Recording Technology
or Performing Arts Management
? You are also required to audition! Even if you are not a performance major, you will be required to take lessons and participate in ensembles
. You can check out the audition requirements for each instrument here
. Not feeling the performance aspect? DePaul School of Music is now offering three different minors that do not require an audition: Music Business
, Music Recording
and Music Studies
. These can be declared once you’re already a DePaul student, so don’t worry about it until your first quarter.
Take the audition, and then make a day out of it!
During the audition weekends, current DePaul students will be offering music school and campus tours for perspective students and parents – do it! Not only will you get another look at all DePaul has to offer, you’ll get to talk to a current student about his or her experiences here. You’ll also be able to attend an information session with the director of admissions
to get a recap on degree requirements
and financial aid
. Lastly, DePaul is surrounded by delicious restaurants and fun things to do – check out the Lincoln Park Zoo
or see a Chicago Symphony
performance. Get a taste of what it’ll be like to go to school here.
Perhaps most importantly, be prepared for your audition.
Your entrance audition is your chance to show the DePaul faculty just how talented you are, so be prepared! At this point, you should be practicing every day for at least a couple of hours. Play your audition materials for anyone who will listen. Record yourself all the time. Take lessons with different teachers (even better – take lessons at the schools you are applying to!). The audition plays a huge role in decisions about admission and financial aid, so make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
Lastly, if you have questions, please ask!
During the audition weekends, DePaul hires current students to help make sure things run smoothly – don’t be afraid to ask them questions! Have a question about a program? Ask. Don’t know where to go for lunch? Ask. All of our students are eager to help and share their experiences, so take advantage of it. You can also email the admissions office at email@example.com
if you have application or scheduling questions.
I wish you all luck during the upcoming audition season – and for those of you not auditioning, perhaps send some good vibes to anyone you know who might be. The audition process may seem, and quite honestly IS, daunting, but it’s all worth it for the chance to pursue your passion – it was for me!
Happy New Year, Readers!
Though I had every intention to write some new blogs over
the last seven weeks, I’ve been busier than ever with the end of student
teaching, clinics and getting home for the holidays. As we are quickly diving into a new year, I figured
now would be a great time to give you a few updates about what I’ve been up to
DePaul’s fall quarter concluded right before
Thanksgiving, however I continued student teaching for another three weeks once I
returned from spending the holiday in Maine. I think I’ve mentioned this
before, but I was required to student teach for 16 weeks – 4 full months – to
obtain a k-12 teaching license, for which I had to give up about half of my
winter break. While most of my friends were catching up on sleep, work and
their social lives, I continued to get up at 5am and drag myself to school
every day. It was definitely a struggle
to stay motivated, but I did it! In the final week I conducted my first concert
ever and was sad to say goodbye to the students I’d make connections with
during my time in both teaching placements.
Before heading home again for the remainder of my winter
break, I had the opportunity to experience two really neat things in the city.
The first was a concert held by DePaul called Christmas at DePaul - It is so
awesome! It’s a collaborative concert between the DePaul Music School, Theatre School and the St. Vincent de Paul church on campus. The university hires
current students and alumni from the music school to perform in a giant
orchestra with a chorus of over 200 members. Christmas at DePaul really gets me
in the spirit of the holidays with several Christmas carols and a reminder of
the real importance of the holiday, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to attend
the last couple years. Due to the concert’s growing popularity, tickets are
free and distributed through a lottery. I’ve been very fortunate to have a
friend in the orchestra who has been able to give me complimentary tickets, but
you can bet I’d have put my name in the lottery if I had to!
I also had the opportunity to attend the Midwest International Band Clinic before leaving the city. This clinic brings in
hundreds of world-famous clinicians and performers to hold master classes for
anyone interested in teaching band. They also have a huge exhibit hall where
you can try instruments, talk with various band-supporting companies and
purchase all kinds of books and equipment. The Midwest Clinic is one of the
highlights of my year and I’ll share more about it with you later.
My winter break has come to an end, but I’m grateful for the
time I had with my family and friends back in my hometown. I’m feeling
refreshed and renewed – and aside from feeling glad to be done student
teaching, I’m feeling ready for more knowledge and more experiences. Even
though I’m nearly done with my time at DePaul, the gift of becoming hungry for
knowledge and my desire to be the best teacher I can possibly be are things
that will stick with me forever – and for that I will always be grateful to
DePaul and my professors.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season – I’m looking
forward to sharing more of my DePaul experiences with you in 2016!
Regardless of how busy I’ve been as a music major these past few years, I’ve managed to pick up a new hobby in college: running! I did a little bit of running in high school, but it was mostly just a 5k (3.1 miles) here and there. I came to college with a mission to be healthy and active, and though I definitely eat more pizza and burgers now than I did my first two years of college, I’ve done a pretty good job sticking to my goal.
Though I’ve never been a fast runner - clocking in at about
11:30 per mile - I’ve accomplished some pretty neat things during college thus
far. I started off slow with a few 5k races around DePaul…for any runners out
there; you should know that the city of Chicago has a TON of races. In January
of my freshman year, I decided to take the plunge and sign up to complete a
triathlon during the following summer. I had never really been a swimmer or
biker, but I was up for the challenge. I did all my training at the Ray Meyer Fitness center, which is DePaul’s gym. (You get a membership as part of your
student fees – it’s worth it!) I completed the triathlon that summer, and then
my first ½ marathon the next summer…my mom even came out to run it with me!
Over the past three years, my best friend Kelsey and I have
run some of Chicago’s best races (in our opinion, of course.) We did the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k (about 5 miles) two years in a row, the
Crosstown Classic 10k (6.2 miles) and just last weekend we ran the Hot Chocolate 15k (9.3 miles – Kelsey’s longest race yet!). All of these races took
place down town in the heart of the city – and I don’t know many people who get
the opportunity to run on the streets of Chicago. Though a challenging race for
two people who hadn’t been doing much training, the Hot Chocolate race was
sweet – literally! At the end of the race we were given hot chocolate,
chocolate fondue and a variety of small snacks to dip in the chocolate. I also
ate m&ms and marshmallows along the route of the race…bad decision? Nope!
It was worth the running cramp.
Though my education has been the most important aspect of my
life for the last few years, I’ve found it’s equally important to have hobbies
outside of music to keep me sane! Running became my hobby because it’s on my
own schedule, it’s keeping me active AND I get to unleash my competitive side
(though I’ve never run fast enough to win any prizes…It’s still competition-like!).
My ultimate goal is to run a marathon sometime in the next ten years – and I
have no doubt I’ll be checking this off my list.
You can check out a list of races in Chicago here!
This past week, an exciting announcement was made: The
construction of a new School of Music building has begun! There has been talk
of this new, state-of-the-art building for a couple years – though due to
funding the project has been delayed until now. There is a lot of excitement
amongst students, faculty and staff who have been anticipating this for quite
some time. As prospective DePaul students, especially if you’re interested in
the School of Music, there are a few things you should know.
1. There is going to be a lot of construction.
Though the School of Music building and the concert hall
will remain standing, the building that sits parallel to N. Halsted st. (also known
as McGaw Hall) will be demolished in January. The parking lot that exists now
will no longer be available, as crews will need the space for construction. You
can see a construction timeline here.
2. You will have a place to practice.
Another reason why construction has not begun until now is
because crews have been renovating a building on campus for us to use during
this time. Don’t worry! It’s only a short walk to the Annex (the previous home
of the Theatre School) from the School of Music. Students will be able to
practice from 8am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends. Need more time?
You’ll be able to head over to the O’Connell building to practice between
9pm-12am. There are also practice rooms under the DePaul concert hall and many professors
allow you to sign out their studio rooms. Getting your daily scales and etudes
in won’t be a problem.
3. You’ll take the same classes and same lessons with our amazing
Though facilities certainly are an important element in
choosing a college, I think the faculty and programs available trump buildings.
Regardless of the construction and renovations, you’ll still be taking lessons
and classes with the same esteemed faculty.
4. It will be worth the wait.
This new building will have four different performance
spaces, designed specifically for our DePaul ensembles. A 505-seat concert
hall, a 76-seat jazz hall with a “club” vibe and two recital halls; a
140-seater and a 81-seater to provide students with the best possible setting
to showcase their talents. Brand-new studios, practice spaces and classrooms are
also in the plans. I heard from a reliable source that there will be five whole
classrooms and storage space just for the music education department – how
amazing is that?!
The musicians, faculty and staff are what make the DePaul
School of Music special. Though you will have a beautiful, new facility at some
point during your time at DePaul, it’s the people inside who make your
education worthwhile. This period of
construction is a small price to pay for the outstanding space that will help
to showcase the extraordinary musicians (including you!) who attend DePaul.
If you’d like more information about construction, FAQs and
facility facts, click here.
One of the biggest challenges of moving to a new place is being away from your family. Though I love living in Chicago and being a DePaul student, I definitely get home sick from time to time. That’s why I get so excited when my mom comes to visit, which she did a few weekends ago! Not only do I get a full fridge of groceries and a weekend of free meals, it’s a great opportunity to venture out into the city and find something fun to do.
My mom has visited so many times over the last three years that we’ve pretty much exhausted all the big tourist attractions. I was excited to discover a Halloween event happening downtown during her visit, so we could break-free of the traditional trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Don’t get me wrong – I love the zoo! But sometimes it’s fun to mix it up. After a delicious lunch at one of my new favorite restaurants, Nando’s, my mom, my boyfriend and me hopped on a train, wearing our Halloween headbands of course, to check out the festivities.
The Halloween Gathering was a new event this year, sponsored
by the Chicago Cultural Mile Association. You can read more about their mission here, but basically the goal is to make the Chicago Cultural Mile, which is located between the Chicago River and the Museum Campus on Michigan Avenue, a popular destination for visitors and tourists. During the day there were several performances, crafting opportunities and attractions for both children and adults. To conclude the festivities, there was a Halloween parade – which is the part of the event we were able to attend. Groups and organizations from all over the city participated in the parade, including: The Field Museum, The Art Institute, Poems While you Wait, The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians, several Brazilian dance organizations and universities
within the city (including DePaul – represented by Theatre School and School of Music students!!). There were also several more – all of who were wearing
costumes and representing their organizations in various ways (The Field Museum
had a giant puppet of “Sue”, who is the T-Rex that lives in the main lobby of
the museum!). It was a really cool event, and I was really glad I could share
it with my mom while she was in town.
I’m so lucky to be living a city where the arts are
celebrated, and I think my mom enjoyed it too. There is never a dull moment in
this city – now is the time to embrace it!
The most common question I hear when I tell people that I’m from Maine is, “Why come to Chicago?”
When I was in high school, I was one of those go-getter types. I wanted to be a part of everything and experience as much as I could; honors societies, science club, team sports, music in and out of school, and mission trips were only some of the things I was involved in during those four years. When it came time to apply to college, I saw it as an opportunity to try something new and get out of the New England bubble that I'd known my whole life. I wanted a college that was going to challenge me in my music and academic studies, provide networking opportunities and help me become the best musician and person I could be – and not to mention, give me a big, new place to explore!
I initially favored DePaul for two reasons: it’s in a big city and it offered me the most financial aid. My first visit DePaul was also my first time in Chicago, and I was in love with the big city vibe! Though not directly downtown, I thought it was so cool that I could hop on a train and be right in the middle of the 3rd biggest city in the country in less than 15 minutes. DePaul also offered me a great amount of financial aid…as a music student I was considered for both academic and talent scholarship awards. Though the scholarships now come as one combine package, (meaning, students receive one lump sum of scholarship instead of two different scholarships), audition performance and high school academics both still affect financial aid for music students.
After doing a little more research on DePaul’s offerings,
reputation, and mission I was completely sold. In the school of music
specifically, several of the faculty members play in the various symphony
orchestras and other high-achieving ensembles (Chicago Symphony, for example!).
Check out the DePaul Faculty pages if you want to
know more. DePaul also offers several different performing ensembles: two
orchestras, two choirs, one wind ensemble, jazz bands and combos and many other
smaller ensembles. There is never shortage of performance opportunities around
here. When I made the switch from performance to music education, I was sold
all over again with a future of studying with inspirational educators, working
in local schools and being able to student teach in some of the best schools in
Illinois. (Not to mention – my advisor specializes in social justice in
education, which is something I’m really passionate about)
DePaul is a Vincentian school and I’m passionate about the
commitment to social justice and community support. You can read more about
DePaul’s Vincentian identity here. In short, St. Vincent de Paul asked the
question, “What must be done?” to help those in need, and DePaul does as much
as possible to continue this mission through service to the surrounding
community. DePaul has several organizations that help students find volunteer
opportunities, such as DePaul Community Service Association.
Though I often miss my family, easy access to the beach and
eating cheap lobster, I will never regret choosing DePaul for my college
education. DePaul has prepared me to be a great teacher and person; and for
that I will always be grateful!
I recently hit the half-way point in my student teaching! Just to provide you with a little more information, music education students teach for 16 weeks – which is divided into two 8-week long sessions. For all other education majors, student teaching only lasts 10 weeks (which is exactly one quarter at DePaul). The reason why music students have longer teaching experiences is because our certification is grades K-12, while others are certified to teach specific age groups. I began teaching 4th-8th grade band August, and although I had a great experience, I’m excited to be heading to a high school to complete my next 8 weeks of teaching.
Also this past week, I submitted my edTPA portfolio to the state of Illinois. edTPA is a newly mandated teacher assessment tool that is now required for all teacher candidates who are applying for a teaching license in Illinois (there are quite a few other states doing this, too!). If you might be interested in becoming a teacher, edTPA will become a very familiar term to you! The portfolio is made up of three major “tasks” that prompt the teacher candidate to explain their processes of planning lessons, teaching the lessons and assessing the students. For example, my portfolio was based on an 8th grade saxophone sectional, where I planned all the lessons, taught all the lessons and then assessed the students on the material we covered. Though the process of edTPA can seem daunting, its purpose is to help us plan, teach and assess with greater attention to details so we can be the best teachers possible! The DePaul College of Education has done a great job providing students with the tools and resources we need to pass the edTPA. I should know what my score is in the next two weeks, and as long as I score a 35 out of 75 points, I will be applying to be a real-life teacher in no time!
In the past 8 weeks, I have learned the following things
about middle school students:
- Most of them have at least one shoe lace untied, and they
like it that way.
- They talk using their "outdoor" voice 95% of the time.
- They ask questions that they already know the answer to,
such as, “Do I have band today?” when they have band every day of the week
- They are insanely creative, and need more opportunities to
express themselves at school.
In the program I was teaching, all students used Noteflight at least three days a week. Noteflight is a web-based composing
program that offers school memberships that allow students to create their
own work, review the work of others and submit assignments to the teacher.
Students in my classes were composing melodies and pieces that even I would
struggle to write – and I’ve studied music theory! I loved seeing the students
fully engaged in writing their own music, and their creativity was truly
Though I know high school will be different in many ways,
(they most likely won’t give me as many hugs on my last day), I’m looking
forward to the new challenges I will face.
If you want a true glimpse into the kinds of things middle
school band students say, watch the video below. It is the most accurate I’ve
ever seen and describes my experience perfectly.
Since I have been waking up at 4:45am to be at school on time over the last eight weeks, having a social life on weeknights has faded into a memory of the past. Don’t get me wrong, student teaching thus far has been a great experience and I’m learning so much...but if sleep wasn’t a top priority before, it certainly is now (and generally before 9pm these days!) However, because I had to submit a massive teaching portfolio on Friday, I was released from school on Thursday to work on it. In honor of being able to sleep in until 8am that day, I decided to head to the Lyric Opera of Chicago
to see Rossini’s Cinderella
on Wednesday night while I had the chance.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago has an awesome program for college students called NEXT
. Through this program, you can register to receive emails about $20 dollar tickets to most of the operas that are performed throughout the year. There are even dedicated “college nights”, where students can arrive early to a show for Q&A and pre-show talk sessions with different Lyric employees and performers. Watch out though: there are specific show dates for student tickets – you’ll want to make sure to check when they’re available so you don’t miss your chance!
Luckily for me, there were student tickets available for the Wednesday night performance of Cinderella. Better yet, I got to choose my seats online! I was able to score two seats – one for me and one for my best friend, Kelsey – on the main floor near an aisle with a perfect view! The opera was in Italian with subtitles and ran for about three hours and twenty minutes with an intermission. Though it was slightly different than the cartoon we all know, no fairy God Mother or glass slippers, I absolutely loved it! There were dancers dressed as mice, colorful costumes and a fairy-tale wedding…what more could a girl ask for in an opera?
I’ll be milking the benefits of my DePaul student ID this year – I’m planning to visit the Lyric Opera at least three more times this season. On my to-see list: Wozzeck, Romeo and Juliet and The King and I… so much opera, so little time!
One of my all-time favorite hobbies is browsing through Weekly Groupon
deals. If you've never heard of these two websites (also an app for various smartphones), it's important that you know how life changing they have been during my college career. Both services provide discounts to area restaurants, events and activities - usually saving you upwards of 50%! I always check these sites before going out to save as much $$ as I can.
This past week on Groupon, I saw a deal for something called "Red Bull Flying Bach" and decided to check it out. (I mean, it said Bach - what music major wouldn't be curious?) The cover picture for the Ad was dancers flying through the air over a life-size piano. Red Bull Flying Bach turned out to be a performance by the Flying Steps (breakdancing World champs) literally breakdancing to Bach music. Unfortunately, the $35 dollars for an $84 dollar ticket Groupon was sold out! Unable to find cheaper tickets anywhere else on the Internet, I decided to take a gamble and beg for a student ticket at the box office the night of the show.
$30 dollars and four flights of stairs later, I'd scored a seat in the balcony at the historic Chicago Theater to see the show. (Note: student tickets are generally $25 dollars to Broadway Chicago shows. This was a special event so it was slightly more expensive!) As I read the program and observed the stage set up, it became evident that yes, there would be breakdancing and yes, two different pianists would be providing the Bach. Within 3 minutes of the C Major Fugue from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, several dancers were performing head spins, moving hand stands and other intricate breakdancing moves. It was hands down (get it?) one of the coolest art forms I've ever seen in my life.
One of the best things about being a college student in Chicago is the access to art. Pretty much every venue in the city offers student tickets between 15-35 dollars. Here are some other things I've done with my student ID:
Need some inspiration to keep practicing your instrument? Go see the Chicago Symphony or an Opera at the Lyric. Need a good laugh? Score some cheap tickets to the Second City. Want to try a new restaurant or try a paint night or cooking class? Get yourself on Groupon or LivingSocial pronto!
Whatever you decide to do, be sure to take advantage of your status as a student to save some serious dough! Happy experiencing!
I am currently a senior music education major in the School of Music. I began my time at DePaul as a bassoon performance major, and though I love playing my instrument I quickly realized that teaching was a much better route for me! For this quarter, I’m student teaching grades 4-12 band and will be back on campus for winter and spring quarters to finish my degree. After graduating in June, I’m hoping to get a teaching job (preferably band!) in a school and continue playing bassoon – the two things that fuel my passions of performing and teaching.
When I’m not in class or teaching, I work in the School of Music admissions office as a student worker and spend my weekends frosting delicious cupcakes at Molly’s Cupcakes
. I absolutely love both of my jobs! I get to meet lots of people through giving tours and answering phone calls and being surrounded by baked goods every weekend is like being in Heaven (though has been damaging to my waist line). When I’m not working, I love to exercise, go to concerts and festivals, eat out at my favorite restaurants and spend time with the wonderful people I have met during my time at DePaul.
DePaul has opened so many doors for me, and I never imagined I’d have as many opportunities as I have had here. I grew up on the southern coast of Maine with my parents and younger brother (who now attends DePaul – what a coincidence!). Though it’s sometimes hard to be away from my family, (18 hours by car, 2.5 hours by plane to be exact), moving halfway across the country to a city like Chicago for my education is something I will never regret.
Here are some of the amazing things I’ve been able to do through DePaul and being in Chicago:
Travel to Sierra Leone, West Africa to teach music during winter break
See concerts at the Lyric Opera, Ravinia, the Chicago Theater and Symphony Center
Run the Chicago Rock n’ Roll half-marathon and other smaller races
Teach music in local schools and take part in lots of other music-related opportunities!
I’ve also had the privilege of being a member of NAfME collegiate (National association for Music Education) and was a Chicago Quarter mentor in the Discover Chicago program that all 1st year students participate in. I’m extremely lucky to be studying in an amazing city at a fabulous university, surrounded by some of the most talented individuals I have ever met. I’m looking forward to sharing this year – my final year as an undergraduate student at DePaul – with all of you. Thanks for reading!