DeBlogs > Ruth Hogle
As my last few weeks of DePaul are quickly passing by, I have a couple more performances to look forward to. This week, I will be performing with the DePaul Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Center for the final time. The week after that, I will be performing in the string chamber showcase with my quartet, which will officially be my last performance at DePaul University. In honor of my final performance being one in a chamber group, I will talk about my chamber experience here and how that has been one of my favorite things about being a music student at DePaul.
For my first quarter of freshman year, I signed up for chamber music, remembering how much I enjoyed performing in smaller ensembles in high school. There ended up being shortage of cellists that year, and I ended up being placed in a string quartet with three graduate students that first quarter. Graduate students! It was a huge learning opportunity for me and was also incredibly overwhelming. To think that I am still younger than those players were when they played with me is pretty amusing to me. It was really great to work with such advanced, dedicated musicians, even though it was terrifying as a little freshman.
After that quarter, I played in a handful of other traditional string quartets, multiple trios and quintets with clarinetists, a trio with violin and piano, and I am now in a cello quartet (with two cellos, violin, and viola).
Something that I have learned from my experiences is that each group has its own personality and way of doing things. I have been in some intense groups that dedicate a lot of time and focus to the group. I've sat down with chamber groups for the first time, and we have all already listened to the piece and practiced our parts. I have also been in groups where we are still sight reading the piece in our coachings (oops!)! I have worked with people who have very particular ways of rehearsing and essentially run our rehearsals. I've also been part of groups in which we are all very casual and each have musical ideas to say and opinions to share, amidst the jokes and catching up about life.
In addition to that, who you have as a coach makes a difference. I have greatly enjoyed having coaches who play different instruments than I do. I have been coached by multiple clarinetists, pianists, violinists, and cellists. Each coach has their own way of doing things. Some have us run a movement each time we meet (which is usually every week for an hour) and make notes in their score for us to read later. Others have us go section by section and break everything down in a meticulous manner. Some coaches really emphasize the musicality and communication of the ensemble, and others let that be understood and work on the balance and technical aspects of playing together. Each time, I have learned something more about the music I am playing and how to be a successful performer in a group.
I spent two quarters in the same piano, violin, cello trio last year, which was the first time I stayed with the same group, and that was an extremely valuable experience for me. While I love having the opportunity to play with so many different people, having a sense of comfort with one another really brought our collective music-making abilities to the next level. We were also playing one of my favorite pieces, the Brahms Trio No. 1, Op. 8 in B Major. So gorgeous!
My chamber group this quarter has been one of the most enjoyable, as I am good friends with everyone in the group and enjoy working with them. We are able to have fun during rehearsal and be productive, since we all have a good amount of chamber experience. I am very excited to perform in the DePaul Concert Hall with them in a couple weeks for the string chamber showcase!
And my favorite part of performing with chamber groups? Getting to dress up in something other than my black pants and top that I wear for orchestra concerts!! It's always enjoyable to coordinate and get creative with different colors, as I believe the visual presentation is also very important in a performance. So that is something I've already carefully thought about for my final performance at DePaul!
Something that I will greatly miss about DePaul once I graduate is the Ray Meyer Fitness Center. I headed over there this past Saturday morning to burn some calories and get my heart pumping and kept thinking to myself, “Why don’t I go here more often?!”. Especially when the weather isn’t desirable or you are looking to use a machine, this is the place to go.
In regards to machinery, my favorite one to use is the elliptical, but I have also used the treadmill and stair steppers. A lot of the machines also have individual televisions connected to them, so you can watch TV as you work out, to distract you from the agonizing pain you’re in (or maybe that’s just me?!)! I enjoy listening to music as I work out or watching Netflix on my phone, especially because there is no background noise. Something that I appreciate is the gym doesn’t play music in overhead speakers, so it is a quiet, clean environment.
Now that my recital is over, I have been able to explore the city and all the amazing things it offers a bit this past week. And this weekend, I did one of my favorite activities: shopping!
Whether you're not that into it or are a shopaholic, it's helpful to know where some major shopping areas are, so I'll share about the stores I usually go to when I need a pair of shoes, a table, or a jacket.
North State Street (Off the Monroe red line stop):
Nordstrom Rack: If you are looking for classier, slightly more expensive clothing, go to The Rack. They have a great selection of accessories, and casual and fancy dress for men and women.
H&M: This is my favorite store! I view it as sort of an older version of Forever 21 with slightly better quality. There are a variety of styles of clothing sold in the store for both men and women. My favorite thing about the store? Their super cool chandelier!
Payless Shoesource: I am obsessed with this place! I have gotten multiple pairs of flats, heels, and sandals here. If you are looking for affordable shoes, go here.
There is a Ross, TJ Maxx, and a Target store right around State Street as well with great prices and products!
Water Tower Place (Off the Chicago red line stop):
Forever 21: While I have recently become enamored with H&M, Forever 21 is a great store for younger women- especially college students! They offer a great variety of styles of clothing, and the store inside this mall is two floors of fashion heaven.
Marbles: The Brain Store: If you are tired of looking at so much clothing, check out this super cool store! They have a great variety of interesting games and toys that work your mind as well as your hands. The employees are super friendly and love to show you things. I just bought a complicated puzzle of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" that I cannot wait to start!
The LEGO Store: Another fun place to go is this big LEGO store in the mall. It is full of different kits and huge figurines made up of thousands of Legos, making it a neat place in which you can explore and embrace your inner kid!
Plato's Closet: If you are looking for cheaper options and are perfectly fine with wearing second-hand clothing, I highly recommend all three of these stores. There is a Plato's Closet off Broadway Street that has so much clothing, you could spend hours going through each section (trust me- I have!). I actually got my dress for my sophomore recital there.
Salvation Army: There is a large Salvation Army just a short walk away from campus, and it is full of excellent deals! I am not even exaggerating when I say that I got a designer blazer for $.50 because of a huge sale they were having once! They also have great used furniture, dish ware, decorations, and appliances that are perfect for college students who are furnishing their first apartments.
So if you want to explore all the retail options the city has to offer, start with these! But prepare yourself to be intensely sore, tired, and hungry after! Once you are at that point, you should check out my posts about junk food in Chicago!
The Practical: Learn
how you work best and go for it.
Everybody else is just as unsure about life as you are.
It really is true. Although we all express it differently (or don’t ever express it!), most people have no idea what their futures hold. Many of us aren’t quite sure what we want sometimes, and all of us have insecurities. I entered college with high expectations of myself; I thought that I had to have everything figured out. I also thought that I had to have everything together all the time, and I kept to myself the fact that I actually had no idea what I wanted to do with my major or with my life! I would show up to lessons, terrified that my professor might find out that I wasn’t feeling confident in my playing that week. Or, I tried to not let my new friends discover that I was actually super homesick and stressed some days. And with time, as I discovered more of who I was and what my fears, insecurities, and dreams are, I realized that those are important things that I am allowed to share with others. Once I began to stop expecting so much of myself and allowed myself to open up to others about how adjusting to college can be hard, I learned that I wasn’t alone. You are entering a completely new stage of life when you start college. Entering college marks a time in your life where you are more independent than you have ever been before, and it’s scary. You’re faced with big decisions that must be made in a not-so-distant future. So, allow yourself to not know everything about yourself or about life. And tell people; you might just be surprised by how many others feel the same way! And this nugget of truth doesn’t even just apply to college freshmen- all of us are unsure and scared about life sometimes!
straightforward: You go to school in an incredible city—embrace it!
Something I love about winter is the fun dates. For those going on their very first one, or the long-time couples who have to make a point to go out and do something new, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the winter season. Instead of being discouraged by the negative-degree temperatures and slick sidewalks that could easily be the death of anyone, we Chicago inhabitants try to embrace the snow, ice, and sharp cold. So what is the best way to surround yourself with all these aspects of winter- the snow, the ice, the slick surfaces that will most likely cause you to slip and fall? Ice skating!
My boyfriend and I made it a goal to go ice skating at Millennium Park as soon as we got back from Winter Break. However, the quarter started in full speed, and it just felt like too much effort to put on an extra pair of tights under my jeans, find my thick gloves and skates in the back of my closet, and take that oh-so-long twenty-minute train ride to The Bean so we could skate right in front of it. So finally, here we were this past Sunday. We had both finished all our work for the weekend, and the temperature was almost 40 degrees. It was time. I discovered my skates were not actually as far back in my closet as I had thought, and I found mittens that would get the job done. Before we left for the park, my roommates reminded me about the new ice skating rink set up directly behind Millennium Park. It is called the Maggie Daley Plaza Silver Ribbon, and it is the same cost as The Bean rink. I had been to the other rink before, and skating around a winding course seemed to be different and interesting to both of us, so off to the Silver Ribbon we went!
We arrived just in time to get in line for my boyfriend’s skates and watch the Zamboni sweep the ice for its last twenty minutes. We stood, watching The Ribbon become transformed into a shimmering, sleek river of ice. We took plenty of selfies together to pass the time. Once my boyfriend rented his $12 skates, we picked out a locker, got a legitimate picture of us in our skates (and no, we did NOT use a selfie pole!) and set out to the ice. So you know how I said earlier that the zamboni had transformed the ice rink into this flowing, idyllic river? I took those thoughts back as I stepped onto the raging river of doom for the first time. I had not skated in over a year, and I forgot how terrified I feel wearing sharp footwear on intentionally slippery paths, while being surrounded by other people with equally sharp footwear and crazed looks in their eyes as they speed past you. I clung to the wall the first lap around and didn’t even last the second lap- I ended up taking a break halfway through, sitting off to the side of the rink in conveniently-located picnic benches that were most likely placed there for the tired, trembling, terrified, and totally scarred. I watched plenty of children and adults fall. The toddlers bawling their eyes out made me realize that that would be my future if I were to fall on that ice.