Origins: 3 Year Plan Part 4

The Formal Education

I started what would be a 6 year ride as a music major in August 2003.

After leaving school officially with my first bachelor’s (but sticking around to sing in the choirs) I had a full time job with the now out of business vitamin chain Great Earth Vitamins, now known as Earth Wise Vitamins (I’ll have you know that I am a Certified Dietary Supplement Specialist, Master Level). I was still working almost 40 hours a week when I decided to go back to school full time for my music degree. This was my general schedule:

  • M: 810am-1250pm Class, 130pm-930pm Work
  • T: 935am-155pm Class
  • W: 810am-1250pm Class, 130pm-930pm Work
  • Th: 935am-155pm Class
  • F: 810am-9pm Class, 1245-930pm Work
  • Sat: 1245-930pm Work
  • Sun: 11am-4pm Work

So I was basically getting ~40 hours/week at work in addition to 12+ units. And boy, was I tired! I remember getting home around 10pm on a Tuesday night and realizing that I still had reading and homework to do for my classes. And I hadn’t even eaten dinner yet. Some nights I would just get home and sit in my empty, dark living room and stare at the TV, which I hadn’t even turned on. I was simply too exhausted to want to even make myself dinner, let alone even get up off the couch. I don’t think my body ever adjusted to this first semester. I did figure out an efficient routine though – Home by 10pm, homework/reading, shower, asleep by midnight-1am, up at 730, changed by 740, out of the house by 745, get to school/look for parking around 755, in my seat by 808 – all for my 810 class. I can’t say that I was on time all the time, and I admit that I missed more than my allotted share of 810am Ear training classes, but I slowly adjusted and by the 2nd semester I was getting into the flow of things. I also think cutting back my work hours to less than 30 also helped.

I realized when I started school again, that my musical background gave me a head start compared with that of the average 1st year undergrad student. First off, I was about 10 years older than your normal 18 year old. Also, my years arranging a cappella enabled me to test out of Ear Training 1. And, having passed out of Class Piano 1, I took Class Piano II for fun as a minor. This should have been a good thing, but I think in hindsight it was mostly bad. Bad as in I put barely any effort into my schoolwork that first year. About the only things I cared about were my performing ensembles, Chamber Singers and University Chorus.

This apathy also carried on to grad school in Chicago. I could care less about ‘Heroic Beethoven‘ (Sorry Ludwig!) well at least when it came to performing at that specific moment in my life. Looking back, my mindset was more in line with getting an Artist Diploma or its equivalent. However, my technique was not quite up to par. There’s really no in between stage, so I was forced to have to take academic classes. It’s not that I didn’t learn anything in my academic classes. I learned a great deal, and had some really great teachers. But my heart just wasn’t into it. I did everything last minute, and I was even put on academic probation in my 3rd semester. I think what saved my grade in that Heroic Beethoven class was the fact that I participated in the discussions and also that, while my papers may have been late, I still turned in quality work. Well, as quality as last minute papers can be!

I was having a good time, sailing along as a music education student, seeing the world, meeting new friends, until one day, a teacher planted a tiny seed in my mind: Why don’t you sing opera?

I’m still trying to figure out which pic shows my bigger brush with fame:

CCPA students with Joyce DiDonato

CCPA students with Joyce DiDonato


Me, the Legaspi twins and *NSYNC

Me, the Legaspi twins and *NSYNC