Growth at Every Step

Ketchel Carey ‘23

I was nervous when I first auditioned for Chorus. I did choir in high school, but was absolutely amazed at the musicianship by the choral showcase. I doubted I’d measure up.

My preliminary audition immediately soothed those fears. It was held in the directors’ office and was incredibly relaxed. People always say, “an audition is a learning experience.” And it is! It’s just that, often, you learn how to audition. This audition actually taught me about music. The chorus’s growth mindset was apparent from the start. Robert, the director,  immediately launched into a lesson about choral resonance and breath support when I struggled in my upper vocal range. I was asked to repeat a sequence of pitches, but did so imperfectly. Rather than just grimacing as I’ve seen in the past, Robert asked, “Which one did you get wrong? How can you get it right?” It felt like a mini voice lesson.

You can imagine my excitement to advance to the next audition. My first try had been so positive and instructive that I was sure I would learn more from the next. This audition would be with a piece we would learn in a group setting and then sung in a quartet. I waddled into the practice room for group rehearsal after briefly getting lost in Lincoln basement and was blown away within the first five minutes. Warm ups had always felt perfunctory in high school, a sort of, “Let’s remember what singing is” type of thing. Robert’s were completely different. I felt the energy and focus build in the room as we worked intonation, support, and technique. I was more and more impressed as the rehearsal continued. We read everything from the get go, no piano involved. The choir launched into  music making from the first minute. I wound my way back to my dorm after rehearsal more than a little intimidated. The speed of sightreading in the group rehearsal of the audition piece amazed me. I diligently practiced my piece, but was still nervous when my audition came. I knew the standards now and was afraid I wouldn’t meet them.

Turns out I had nothing to be scared of. I was the last audition of the night at 10:30 pm. The auditioner before me had driven to the auditions and kindly offered to wait for me and drive me back to North Campus. After a short wait, the chorus secretary took me to the audition room. We began almost as soon as I went in. It wasn’t perfect, but it was joyful from the get go. I knew I wanted to make music with these people. Just as before, Robert took the time to teach me and improve my performance where I struggled. Everyone said goodnight and my newfound friend drove me back to my dorm. I didn’t think I’d gotten in. After all, I’d made so many mistakes. However, I wasn’t at all disappointed because I learned so much just in the few minutes I’d spent with the chorus. I slept as soon as I got home.

I slept, that is, until I got a phone call at 11:30 pm. I promptly hung up, thinking it was a telemarketer. They called again. I hung up. “Who’s calling me at 11:30!” I thought. I answered on the third call  and was so happy that I did. I had made it into the chorus. Just a few days later I was in rehearsal. Now, just a few days after that, I’m certain it will be one of my favorite parts of my college experience. Much like all the best parts of life, it will be great because I will be learning and growing with like minded people who believe in each other. It will be great because I took a risk to get here.