<p>I think you are correct that recommendations from "names" in the theatre business have very little influence in theatre students' acceptance to college programs. I think the only time they influence a decision is when a student is truly on the fence ; then the recommendation might tip the student, but only if the recommender had actually worked with him/her. As you probably recall, my D's vocal coach was the music director for the U. of Cincinnati's musical theatre program for 10 years. (Soozie and I know each other from the musical theatre thread. For you other readers, suffice it to say that U.C. has one of the top ranked programs in the nation.) D's coach talked with her quite a lot about auditions. He said that there was only one recommendation letter that he could recall that actually made an impression on the auditors. Shoshana Bean, who is now a well known young Broadway performer, came into her audition at U.C. with a letter in hand. The letter was very short and direct. To paraphrase, it said, "I have recently worked with Miss Shoshana Bean. She would be a great asset to your program. I recommend her highly." Signed, Stephen Sondheim. She got in.</p>



<p>My D actually said thank you in a very public way at her H.S. graduation this past May. She and several of the other seniors put together a video that was shown at the graduation ceremony. She admitted that she had never thanked us before and said that she wanted us to know how much our efforts had meant to her. Who knows, maybe we'll get a thank you someday at the Tony awards.</p>

<p>Dancersmom, very true indeed. What we do here in our community for our child is often beyond what others do in terms of time and driving, though I know many who also do it. Most are not of great "means". </p>

<p>Like your daughter, mine knows affluent kids who do this, though not here in our local community. She has friends out of state (from the summer program she has attended for seven years and counting) and many are from affluent backgrounds, though not all. She is well aware of the contrasts and how it is often not a big deal if those kids want to go back to the program (expensive program) or fly here or there and do this or that. She knows the difference, believe me. </p>

<p>I would say one of the best moments with my 18 year old was when we said goodbye to her upon dropping her off at Brown. She happens to be the kid the family who acts the most appreciative so she is not the one I remind how fortunate she is for the time/efforts/money we have put into her endeavors. Anyway, she said (paraphrasing): "Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to go here." And I knew what she meant because we told her to apply to wherever she wanted to go and that we knew she had worked hard to achieve her goals and now it was our time to step up and make them happen despite not being able to afford it. She knew she had full rides and scholarships to her safety schools but we let her go to one of her reach schools anyway and I know she appreciated the support. She truly acts appreciative all the time and that is what matters to me and that she never has taken it for granted. My kids have friends from a wide spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds. They have local friends who don't have much. They have local middle class friends too. They have friends from summer programs out of state who are very well to do. They really get a sense of the various opportunities and differences out there. </p>

<p>By the way, I was thinking of you yesterday and mentioning your D to my D because she told me that a friend of hers in FL just got in rolling admissions to the dance program at FSU and I was telling her how good that is there and so is MT there, though my D did not want to go to college in FL but I told her how you said how strong the dance component is there (she is a dancer like your D) and it got into a whole discussion of what she hopes her MT program would have, should she be fortunate to be admitted to some, and even have a choice (as you are well aware, the admissions odds are very difficult with these programs). There is lots of talk among her out of state friends about the various programs as so many are applying (or attending). She has many friends who live in FL too. She is not appying to FSU but it sounds like your D has found a perfect program for her and must be very talented to even get in in the first place. </p>

<p>I hope my D has a happy outcome in the spring like yours did. </p>


<p>Speaking of connections:</p>

<p>A friend of mine is having a letter of recommendation written by Justice Scalia.</p>

<p>Ilcapo, you live in rarefied territory! :-)</p>

<p>Soozie, your daughter is very level-headed and you did a great job with both of them.</p>

<p>When exploiting "connections", it's best to use only those that can really speak from significant personal experience with the student. Many students (and parents) solicit recommendations from political figures, wealthy industrialists, etc. in the belief that a generic letter from someone important will tip the scales. If these kinds of letters do any tipping, it will be in the wrong direction. :)</p>

<p>On the other hand, a recommendation that can speak to the student's enthusiasm, creativity, willingness to learn, etc., from first hand interaction (including an example or two) can be a plus for the adcom. The Sondheim note is a good example, even if it is a bit bare-bones. (Ideally, the context of the joint project and the specific attributes that made the student a standout would be helpful to an adcom trying to figure out if the recommender REALLY knew the student or was repaying a favor to her parent.) What works, works... ;)</p>


<p>From what I have read about your very talented younger D this past months, I'm sure that she will have a happy outcome this spring. I bet she'll have several choices. Good luck as the audition season starts.</p>


<p>'Tis true the Sondheim note was very bare-bones, but it didn't need to be longer. Anyone in this country involved with a musical theatre program knows who Stephen Sondheim is. He's considered to be one of the great theatre composers of the second half of the 20thc. If he writes a note saying a kid is talented and should be considered, auditors will sit up and take notice!</p>

<p>dancersmom, I love the story of Shoshana's letter of recommendation! :) Just wanted to mention quickly that I have to apologize for not replying to your very nice email. I had problems with my hotmail account and have been busy for the better part of a month with the college visits for D3. But yes, the show I referred to was The Last Session and yes, I remember Terry. D2 and I travelled to Cincy for a visit of four days and saw the show twice as well as got together for a barbecue with friends from all over the country who love Steve and TLS. Lots of great memories. And yes, he's doing well. Just premiered his new musical at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. So things are going well, both musically and healthwise!</p>


<p>I completely understand having hotmail account issues. I've had them in the past. I really didn't think anything about not getting an e-mail from you. I know how busy parents of seniors are! I'm glad to hear that Steve is well. I hope his new musical will be successful. It's kind of cool that you remember Terry. He's a super person and I'm happy to report that he's doing really well healthwise as well.</p>