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GoForth Journal

GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
S, HS junior, continues his jazz bass musician path.

We have experienced sort of a transition of focus. Efforts in the past have pertained to the capabilities of S himself. Discovering the ways to prioritize and address technique, repertoire, practice routine, and other habits and characteristics. With an outlook of 1 year until audition season, it seems like executing the plans that are now in place will be alright. Whether or not this satisfaction with the plan indicates that the path is laid out perfectly, there is now more time to redirect attention from S to the colleges where he would like to study. More time is now available to learn exactly which schools start to accept application on which dates and how this can lead to auditions in which months. More time to learn who are the teachers at each place and how they are regarded. More time to lay out plans for college visits over (our, not their) spring breaks.

In this spirit, S went on his first official college tour this week with a sample lesson, a chat with music admissions, and even being invited impromptu into a practice room to try out a song on the bass with a small group. S was very satisfied with what he saw of the college lifestyle.

Replies to: GoForth Journal

  • bridgenailbridgenail Registered User Posts: 587 Member
    Maybe this post helps me understand when parents say "I really enjoyed the audition experience and wish I could do it again". I always think "Really? I found it a tad stressful!" Of course I was by no means as informed.

    Your journey seems like a pastoral walk through the countryside. Mine was more of an action movie. I got to the end and thought "Wow that was like being in a car crash." I'm not sure exactly what happened but I definitely was upside down and screaming some of the time. Still she did get acceptances (despite my driving) so all was good!

    You may be one of those fortunate parents who would do it all over again.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    @bridgenail - A year ago, S was auditioning for drum corps. That was hectic. The difference was the amount of time available to prepare. The drum corps audition era involved finding teachers, learning technique, and figuring out which corps to apply to at the same time.

    With jazz bass, S will have a year to develop audition material on top of what we believe is a sound foundation. And then several months starting now to iron out the targets and applications. I can't imagine what it would be like to have years of informed preparation and expert guidance.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,218 Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    bridgenail, your post made my day. I needed a good laugh and you provided a really good one.

    Loved this: "Wow that was like being in a car crash." I'm not sure exactly what happened but I definitely was upside down and screaming some of the time."

    Go Forth, sounds like your son is in good shape and still enjoying himself.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    @compmom - I always have a mind towards whether something has been overlooked in the plans. It is almost uncomfortable to feel comfortable, but I can't think of any Chicago-area stone that has been left unturned as far as confirming that S's performing abilities are mainstream college prep.

    As far as enjoying goes, it just gets better. S was part of a trio formed by some music-mates that played a paid (S's first) gig out at a restaurant, which has now become slated as a monthly gig.

    Summer will have one out-of-area and one in-area jazz camp week, and the remainder of summer's music time will be college applications and pre-screen video making. Busy, but fair.
  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 Registered User Posts: 497 Member
    edited December 2015
    @GoForth, just so you're aware, my son is applying to 6 music schools, all for jazz studies, and half of those schools have a specific audition repertoire that wasn't announced until late August/early September. It was a combination of specific songs or "choose one of these 3" type requirements. I think there was some overlap with the previous year's repertoire, but the lists did change. There was also some overlap between schools. And for the schools that didn't specify, it made more sense to "re-use" the specifically required songs for the prescreens. Of the 6 schools, 4 required prescreens and I think he ended up recording 7-8 songs to cover them all.

    Obviously, your school list will be different but I just wanted to give you an idea of what our experience was. I think it's easier for classical students to have their audition repertoire set before fall.

    For the applications, again half of the schools used the Common App, which came out the beginning of August. All but one school had additional essays of their own. He wrote more essays than prescreen recordings...

    Also, one last note. He did his prescreens in a recording studio with pro musicians (all of whom he already knew). Afterwards, he decided that he didn't like any of the takes on the ballad and re-recorded just that song with his student combo, at school with his own equipment. We were surprised how good the recording quality was for the second take. We were also surprised how much better the group sounded, as a whole, with the pro back-up. I'm sure the evaluators can separate the applicant's playing from the group's but, still, the overall effect was really noticeable. (And note that his school combo wins high school competitions.)
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    edited January 2016
    Hi. All is going well with S. He is learning, improving, and performing a lot. We are not aware of any particular chop deficiencies that would appear on pre-screen videos later this year, so he might be in good shape. It looks like S will have even greater opportunities in his upcoming senior year.

    Of course, the junior year homework load is annoying and subtractive from music practice. S has been maintaining a rigor, course load, and GPA that would be worthy for almost any major, and the question is how much to ease of the academic rigor for the senior year.

    The original plan for senior year was:
    Honors Physics,
    AP Calculus AB,
    Humanities (AP Eng Lit),
    Honors Spanish IV,
    Civics / Resource Management,
    Teacher's Aid / Phychology (pass/fail)

    S has Biology, Chemistry, and AP Chemistry as sciences up through now. He could drop Physics and still have the 3 sciences that seem required everywhere. I would not advise that if he were STEM, and I think physics is cool, but also rather non-earth-shattering to S' mind at this point. The question is how foolish is it to drop Physics in support of being a music major. The other option would be to drop Spanish IV (S has had I, II, and is in III), but he wants to continue the line of Spanish even into college as electives. The other classes are basically mandatory, and we were looking for a way to gain more freedom to work on music, basically to be as strong as possible for college and Grammy, etc. auditions. The loss of one of these honors classes (being replaced by study hall) would drop him by 0.01 GPA points on a 12-point scale from rank #1 to possibly still rank #1. Thoughts?
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Registered User Posts: 2,679 Senior Member
    Civics and Teacher's Aid are not needed for college and won't be added into the GPA (nor will PE but I suspect it's required by the high school?) Admissions at most schools will simply ignore those classes. Why not do regular physics rather than Honors Physics? That's what my very smart and capable son did - always planning to take advanced physics in college (which, unfortunately he never ended up doing.) Neither of those physics classes will be as hard as AP Chemistry, I would think. He may want to take some acoustics courses in college and they'll require some physics knowledge. Physics and music have many crossovers and would be useful to him. The class rank means little to nothing for admission to a music program, or even for academic merit awards, and will mean absolutely nothing once he's in college - but having studied physics will mean something for his entire life.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    edited January 2016
    Clarifications: Civics is a required semester class. Physics just comes as honors physics, no 'regular' physics. Smaller high school with limited palette - ~800 kids total 9-12. Wherever I put a slash (/) it is a semester divider. He needs the semester of psychology and Civics to achieve 3 years of social studies, having 2 years already. The Resource Management is also a required semester class.

    So, Teacher's Aid could be disposable - it is the only form of volunteering his time that he will have. He is one this semester and actually does teach, rather than just file papers.

    Just clarifications there. Let the thoughts continue. Thanks.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,218 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    If he drops physics and later wants to do STEM, he can take it at college. My son did AP Physics as a senior and got a 5 but still elected to take physics freshman year, and so did many others: students often like to take the whole sequence of classes for the major at the college they are attending, and I think reducing stress is another factor.

    If your son wants to focus on music, it can really good to pare down other things, especially if he has already satisfied a requirement for, in this instance, science. The volunteering may not impact his time outside of school. If it doesn't, then it is a good way to mature a little, and even gain poise in public.

    There are cases where a scholarship is available to the #1 and #2 in the class, for instance, at our state university. Hopefully that is not relevant here. The focus on GPA and rank is, in my opinion, destructive.

    Is he better at or more partial to math or English? I would even look at those classes. Unless he loves the academics, and I forget now if academics are also a priority.

    You can write a note to colleges to enclose with the guidance counselor letter, or the gc can write, explaining these choices in the context of focus on music. Colleges don't mind, and even show more interest, in a kid who is committed; and of course conservatories don't mind at all.
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Registered User Posts: 2,679 Senior Member
    @Compmom makes a good point that he can take Introductory Physics in college. Do you think he will?

    However, yes, if the schools to which he's applying will not care that he's only taken two lab science disciplines - although three years of study - then he'd be fine dropping physics. Though it's a pity he can't drop those other classes instead! The idea of sacrificing physics for resource management or Teacher's Aid seems rather sad.

    I can't remember - are there any rigorous academic admission schools he's considering? Are you hoping for academic merit awards? I would agree completely with @Compmom to not worry any further about class rank or even his GPA, as long as it doesn't plummet.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    I reworked the presentation of the schedule:

    Semester I

    Honors Physics [or a Study Hall?]
    AP Calculus AB [need this 4th year of math]
    Humanities (AP Eng Lit) [need this 4th year of English]
    Honors Spanish IV [he wants to continue the Spanish path]
    Civics [required - 3rd year of social studies]
    Teacher's Aid [possibly optional, but useful, and no homework]
    PE [required]

    Semester II

    Honors Physics [or a Study Hall?]
    AP Calculus AB [need this 4th year of math]
    Humanities (AP Eng Lit) [need this 4th year of English]
    Honors Spanish IV [he wants to continue the Spanish path]
    Phychology [pass/fail to preserve GPA and allow slack - 3rd year of social studies]
    Resource Management [required]
    PE [required]

    Up to this point, he has been STEM ready, but at some point, you have to go from option-rich to action-specific, which is what is being looked at - is this the right time to make that move. I think Physics would be a breeze for S. It would be an 'A' and boost his GPA by 0.01. But it is one more hour of time (compared to a study hall) plus homework time not available for music. Maybe that is OK. We could be in over-react mode with what APUSH (note taking) and AP Chem (extra lab hour) are doing to hurt his practice time.

    @compmom - Based on my estimations and calculations, S would probably retain rank of #1 regardless of the choice and would almost dertainly stay above #3. I do not know of scholarships that specifically will be there or not for rank 1 and 2. I agree that eventhough his rank is high, it is something not to fascinate over at this point, and he can just keep putting out a good academic performance and be fine. It would probably be more productive scholarship-wise to take the study hall option and study for the ACT, for example.

    He is not seeking any dual-track college focus. He really does want more quality time to focus on music. Academics are not a high priority, in that he would be happy to take Spanish, Acoustics, or other useful and interesting classes which could be found widely. He is kind of balanced between English and math - not a genius at either, but not bad.

    @SpiritManager - The set of schools at which S might apply is not yet settled. Maybe University of Miami. Maybe Indiana University. But for sure UNT. Likely our local easy-visits in Chicago - UIC, DePaul. And then a small number of other options between Chicago and New York.

    Overall, I was simply reviewing the Common Data Sets looking at required years for each study, and Physics became an easy target. Now, UNT actually requires 4 years of science, plus other things our HS does not even offer. But I have written to their admissions and learned that ACT scores, GC letters, and ultimately a 'custom' review can work around that requirement. On the other hand, if it is well known that AOs would say "where is this kid's physics!?" and toss his file in the trash, I would like to know that.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    To add: actually where S 'suffers' (the source of A-) is say social studies, where you are asked in a multiple-choice fashion "What was more important in the demise of the native americans?" He probably knows all the facts from the class, but will form an opinion that maps to one of the wrong answers. He can fully back up why he picked his answer, but that is not part of the test. I am affected similarly and always thought of these as mind-reading questions. I have trouble with surveys because I don't know exactly what is being asked, and I have a lot to say about it, and can answer several ways truthfully.
  • lots2dolots2do Registered User Posts: 384 Member
    @GoForth, I would suggest Music Theory, Piano lessons and Choir - voice or singing lessons.
    Some of this may be available through your S's high school. Take advantage of any and all of this that
    is offered.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    @lots2do - Hi there. S' music chops are adequate to allow us to start gambling that he will get in somewhere as a music performance major on jazz upright bass. Thus, we are willing to even consider dropping a staple academic class.

    S did AP music theory last year (sophomore) with a '5'. He does do singing lessons and sight sings well. He uses piano as a secondary instrument. These are all done outside the HS. He is likely to be in the most senior group of his youth jazz band next year, which also has more performance obligations than this year - for example, they are a guest band at the all-states. His music time is divided into classical technique (which is not equal to a multi-year star classical performer), jazz theory, transcription, some listening (needs more time on this), private lesson singing, composition (piano is nice here), performance in organized youth group, and performance for pay in self-organized small trio.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,090 Senior Member
    Just a thought looking backwards from the other end of the periscope: a number of friends of my kids over the years have decided to go to medical school (it always seems to be med school for some reason, not engineering) after graduating from conservatories or even MM programs. They have brushed up on the college science classes by either taking courses specifically designed to prep non-science majors for med school applications, or, in the case of kids who did not take a lot of science in high school, have taken community college classes for a brush up. A number of them have become paramedics as a temporary job while doing this preparation. Some are still in this process, but as far as I am aware, the others have had success in gaining admission to (top) med school. I think the single-minded determination needed to succeed in music makes this kind of project doable for a highly-trained musician. I recently visited a doctor in her fifties who told me she has an MM from Peabody in piano performance! But I see anecdotal evidence of this in the young generation as well.
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