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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.


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!


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.

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.​


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​


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!


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!