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My Five Favorite Memories

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.

Throwback to 2012: Downtown!
2. Student Leadership InstituteWinter Leadership Conference

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.

 3. Bakery-crawling

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!

Dancing in Sierra Leone, Africa

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 our campus!


Back to the Lyric and to Symphony Center

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. 

Look at all the great costumes from "The King and I"!
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…

DePaul Violinists at Symphony Center post-concert!

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!


Preparing for Adult Life

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.

       1.     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!

 2.     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.

 3.     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 this June!

 4.     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! 


Performing with the Chicago Symphonic Winds

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 is teaching.

 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!


Walking for Multiple Sclerosis

A local organization that is near and dear to my heart is the Greater Illinois Multiple Sclerosis SocietyMy 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!
 
Me and Will at the 2015 Walk MS

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 year!

Me and Will at the 2016 Walk MS


Congrats, Accepted Students!

​​​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 visit.

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 agree.


Status: Officially Employed!

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!


Shufflin' for the Last Time

​​​​​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!


Me and Kelsey at the end of our last Shuffle!
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 15​k​, 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.


DePaul Opera Theatre Presents "Die Fledermaus"

​​​​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, props, galore!

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.

DePaul presents "Die Fledermaus"
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.

Spring Break and Easter

​​​​​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.

Will and Me after Easter services at St. Paul's!
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.

A Cappella at Auditorium Theater

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.

Less than 24 hours later, my boyfriend and I were at Auditorium Theater​ buying tickets to the Varsity Vocals International Collegiate A Cappella Semifinals​. Let me give you a little more background info before I tell you how ACA-AMAZING it was. (I’m sorry. I had to!)

Our view of the
stage!
Varsity Vocals​ 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!


Teach Abroad: Sierra Leone, West Africa

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). 

Sierra Leone is in West Africa.

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!​

Dancing with some students!
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.

To the Art Institute!

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!

Bronze Bowl with Lace, Ursula Von Rydingsvard
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.​

Coping With College

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.​


Student Spotlight: Natalie Vanderlaan, Vocalist

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.​

Natalie Vanderlaan, Senior, Mezzo Soprano

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.

Natalie performing at "The Lounge" last Thursday

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.


DePaul Students take on ILMEA

​​​​​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​.
DePaul music students with our advisor, Dr. Kelly-McHale
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.​

Two good friends who have become great teachers!
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.


Know Where to Go: Statisfy Your Sweet Tooth!

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)​

1. Molly's Cupcakes ​- 2536 N. Clark St.

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!

A few cupcakes from Molly's - decorated by me!
2. Swirlz ​- 705 W. Belden Ave.

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.

3. Dinkel's Bakery ​-3339 N. Lincoln Ave.

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!

4. The Twisted Baker​ -2475 N. Lincoln Ave.

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.

5. Cafe Vienna​ - 2523 N. Clark St.

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.


A Maine Lobster Bake in Chicago

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. 

Will and I holding the "lobstahs" before their fate.

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.


The Midwest Clinic - The College Prospective

​​​​​I mentioned in a previous blog that I had attended the Midwest International Band and Orchest​​ra Clinic​ right before I went home for Christmas. 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.​


Auditioning for DePaul

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 musicadmissions@depaul.edu​ 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!

​​​​​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 since Thanksgiving.

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!

"Christmas at DePaul", St. Vincent de Paul Parish

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!​


Running for Chocolate in Chicago

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!

Kelsey and I at the finish line - finished in under two hours!

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​


A New Home for the School of Music

​​​​​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 faculty.

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.

This is a sketch of what the new building will look like!
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​.


Halloween on Parade

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.

Puppet of Sue

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.​

Me and my boyfriend, Will, at the Halloween parade! (Taken by my mom)

 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!​


Why I Chose DePaul

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 Facu​lty 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!


Student Teaching - Half Way Done!

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 every 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 inspiring.

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.​

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A Night at the Opera

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! 

Cinderella with the dancing mice...classic!
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!

Breakdancing and Bach

​​​One of my all-time favorite hobbies is browsing through Weekly Groupon ​and LivingSocial​ 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:

Field Museum​, all access pass: $25
Lyric Opera​ (Oklahoma!, Elektra, Die Meistersinger): $20
Broadway Chicago​ (Stomp!): $25
CSO concerts​ (too many to list!): $15

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!

About Me!

​​​​​Greetings, readers!

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!