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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.