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Mini Rant

Okay, mini rant… So I just finished my AP Gov Test and it went really well. I was happily surprised. I had one issue with a FRQ but I bs-ed my way through it. After the test Jordan, Sam and I went out to lunch then chilled at my house. While we were eating, Sam tells us that a girl in her testing room cheated but wouldn’t tell us who. So naturally, Jessica and I started guessing who it was. After a while, we finally guessed correctly- Frankie… Unfortunately, Jordan and I weren’t too surprised; neither one of us liked Frankie at all but still. I like to think that all of us are pretty smart, Jordan and Sam were in the top 25 and I am an AP student, so hearing that someone cheated makes all of us so annoyed. We all work hard and the question everyone in our class (of the seniors who took that AP Gov test) did not know what the question was asking so we all bs-ed our way through it.

I think that worst part isn’t that Frankie cheated but how she cheated. She was  done with her test, went to the bathroom and six minutes (yes, six minutes, Sam counted) and came back, flipped to the question that everyone struggled with, and crossed some of her answer out and continued writing. She was so blatant and obvious! It was painful… But not only did she blatantly cheat, I hate this girl. She is so annoying and mean. She was the reason I would come home from school and cry all of freshman year. So, just her producing carbon dioxide makes me want to throw her head against a wall.

Anyway, I hate that she cheated and got the answer correct on a question that everyone struggled with. It isn’t fair and what really isn’t fair is she can’t and won’t get caught. She went to the bathroom, used her phone, and got an advantage from it. It is just SO infuriating. I studied my butt off last night and the cases on the FRQ were not mentioned. It kind of blindsided everyone, even our teachers when we asked.

I know I need to get over it, and I will. But right now, I am SO frustrated. She cheated, and risked voiding everyone else’s test…

Okay- rant over

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Stage Fright

On March 5th, my friend Ayan and I competed in the IHSA Solo and Ensemble and played Duo Concertant Op. 3 by Francois Devienne.

Here is a link to the song- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GoVfRL9cfo

During the judged duet, Ayan and I nearly got a perfect score, 39.1/40 total point. We were so proud but when we received our score sheet, we were docked an entire rating. The ratings are as follows-

Division I: Superior (40-36)

Division II: Excellent (35.9- 28)

Division III: Good (27.9-20)

Division IV: Fair (19.9-12)

Division V: Poor (12-8)

It can be equated to the school grading system A, B, C, D, F.

After weeks of preparing Ayan and I were ready. This was his first IHSA competition while I was a veteran at it. Ayan and I were confident and walked into the room and made our judge take note of us. We left the room with what should have been a Division I Rating (or an A) and later learned that we had gotten a Division II Rating (a B) due to our music not being in the proper order. Long story short- we should not have been docked because the rules were not clear in the rules book but whatever (still a little salty…)

After this frustrating experience, Ayan and I decided to audition for our school’s V-Show (Variety Show) because at least no one could dock us for our score! After auditioning, we were asked to memorize our piece for the show. This was so hard for me because not only was the piece hard itself, memorizing music is like playing with matches in a log cabin. Week after week, I had struggled with this music and just when I found the confidence to perform in front of others, I had another layer of anxiety added.

Well the week of V-Show has come and I am so nervous. It is just becoming real to me now and my mind won’t stop playing games with me. Yesterday during dress rehearsal, my director was in the audience and I just froze. I had no idea what I was playing nor did I want to be there. I am scared that I will freeze for the real thing. It is constantly on my mind and I am consumed by it.

Sometimes people say to picture the audience in their underwear… This would typically help get over the stage fright but not when you can’t even see the audience! That’s right, the entire auditorium is black and all eyes are literally on us…

I am so worried but I guess I will give an update this weekend. Wish us luck!

La La Land Music

If you haven’t seen the mistakenly best picture yet, you’re not missing much. When La La Land came out, my boyfriend and I went to see it. As big theater geeks, we were very disappointed in the movie itself. However, the one thing that caught my eye, or ear I guess you could say, would be the music. Here is a link to the entire soundtrack- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmKlaGpmYig

Despite the movie itself being pretty cheesy, the music was a unique blend of jazz and pop (I suppose…?) If you read my last post, I talked about themes within TV shows. This movie had the same idea. However, the idea in this movie was a simple four note melody which continued throughout the movie with different variations.

In the opening scene, viewers get a 1960’s feel with the first song, Another Day of Sun. It is an upbeat fun song. I personally felt super happy and it was a good start to the movie. The energy was bright and bubbly. Other than the confusion for time period, the Another Day of Sun started the movie off really well. After this number, I expected the movie to live up to its hype… That is another conversation…

The biggest musical technique that the soundtrack used was a repeated theme. The song Mia & Sebastian’s Theme, gave the audience a beautiful serene mood. The tone of this song was subtle and took a spin on a positive A Major key signature and made it rather dark. This tool made song sound bright but the intervals and mood of the piece felt dark yet comforting. Another theme, City of Stars is played throughout as little interjections but it brings a feeling to the movie, a feeling that everything will work out. It is becoming more and more common to use this idea of variations on a repetitive theme more recently. In older movies (pre 1980’s or so) there is one theme that is played the same way. Take Jaws for an example- there is the classic theme of terror as the shark is approaching, and it stays constant throughout the movie. This was a brilliant tactic on John William’s part but every time the theme played, the only difference might have been a key change- not a variation. As movies and Hollywood have evolved, so has music techniques.

The final song I truly enjoyed was the song from the iconic dance scene, Lovely Night Dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftaFCm-vt8s Other than Emma Stone casually pulling out dance shoes from her purse, this scene was perfect! The dancing was crisp and innocent, much like a 1970’s musical. Although I did not really care for Stone’s voice, for this specific song, it fit like a glove. Stone’s voice was airy and young sounding throughout the entire movie. Not taking any credit away from her, but it was not a strong voice. However, in a piece like this, it was necessary. It made Mia seem more relatable and human. Let’s face it, most of us can’t sing or we pretend like we can. For this specific song, that was what really made Stone’s character feel relatable.

In the end, La La Land was a mediocre movie with great music so, I cannot really say how I feel. Watch it yourself and make your own opinion.

Music Through Time & Space

Some say that time and space travel is impossible. Well Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” and Audrey Hepburn said “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m Possible.’” So, I challenge you as readers to just go with me for a minute-

I would love to experience life in the medieval time period (okay, maybe not life with the black plague… but some sort of experience) but I can only use my imagination based on old paintings and photos. However, listening to Renaissance period music, I could get a fuller grasp on the time period. Here is an example- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SvEttR6HTY

Just by listening to this and piecing the puzzle together from my eyes and my ears, I can nearly get a 360° view on it.

Many people want to go to Ireland and experience the country’s rich culture. Despite the food and drinking aspect, one can almost travel to Ireland though photographs and music. Try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsDN-u66r7I . You can experience Ireland while in your pajamas at home in your underwear, if you so choose.

My point of this post is not to dismiss the new medium it brings to our world. It allows us to experience more and enriches the culture of every nation. I know now many songs are pop and in English, but just imagine a time when music was our sole source of entertainment! What a life… Music is a story in itself and I hope you don’t neglect a moment to soak up an entire story by ignoring the music.

Name That Show!

My favorite shows include Gilmore Girls, Friends, and Parks and Recreation. All these shows are feel good shows but the biggest distinction between all of them is the theme music. These shows have very different plot lines but their theme songs share common ground. If you have not heard these theme songs, click the links below:

Gilmore Girls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OX8JtJffWo

Friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Niu9Zmrx0p8

Parks and Rec: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI7f4CgATiE

The show Gilmore Girls is a family-centric show about Lorelai Gilmore and her gifted daughter Rory. In order to get Rory the best education, Lorelai must borrow money from her parents, with whom she does not have a strong relationship, and with any loan, strings are attached. Gilmore Girls’ theme some is “Where You Lead” by Carole King. This song is “warm and fuzzy” with a message about always being there for one another (who ever it is). This song is the perfect intro to this show but I think the thing I love most about it is the way it develops the show. Yes, it sounds cheesy but I believe this theme song sets the tone for the whole series. It says “I will follow you” and “I’ll be there where you lead.” This literally spoon feeds the audience the theme of the show but it is a feel-good song for a feel-good show.

If you are reading this and you have NOT heard of the show Friends or do not know anything about it- please leave… (Only slightly kidding!) Anyway, this show is about six friends, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey, who live together in Manhattan (because it is plausible for 20-something year olds to afford a high rise apartment) and nothing seems to go exactly as planned. The theme song is “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembandts. This song is a summary of adult life- Your job’s a joke. You’re broke. Your love life’s D.O.A. but remember that I’ll be there for you. Friends are suppose to rely on each other in the hardships and be able to celebrate the small joys of life. The theme song is telling the audience exactly that and setting up the premise of the show. Despite the arguments and unemployment at times, something will always draw Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey together.

Finally, the Parks and Rec theme song is not a song of words more a song of a loving happy bubble of a perfect world.Parks and Rec is about Leslie Knope and her co-workers at the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee Indiana. It is a comedy with a honest struggling love story. The theme song is perfect. There is a tumblr quote that says “I bet the Parks and Rec theme song is what goes through a Golden Retriever head all the time.” This quote is honest and the truth! It is a song that describes the main character of Leslie Knope and sets the tone of the show.

Overall this is what makes up shows- their theme songs. Not every storyline is memorable but hearing the consistent theme song is what makes the show pop with an extra layer.  

IWU Wind Ensemble Review

While visiting Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU), I got together with Megan Losch who recommended we go to the Wind Ensemble. She needed a concert review as well so we decided to kill two birds with one stone.  The program was as follows:

Euphonium Concerto- Martin Ellerby
I. Fantasy
II. Capriccio


Godzilla Eats Las Vegas! – Eric Whitacre


Sinfonia V: Symphonia Sacra et Profana- Timothy Broege
I. Prelude
II. Rag
III. Alla turca
IV. Chorale
V. Rag
VI. Ragtime alla turca
VII. Chant and Pavanne

La Fiesta Mexicana- H. Owen Reed
I. Prelude
II. Mass
III. Carnival

The first piece, Euphonium Concerto, featured sophomore Jack Duffel. The piece was very well done. It contained complex rhythms, time signatures, and technique. My one critique I would say was the soloist needed to play out more (or have a microphone) and/ or the band needed to be more of accompanying. At points it felt like the soloist was competing against the band rather than him being featured. Other than that, I found the piece to be very well done and technically clean. One part about the piece that I found really interesting was the mini bassoon/ tuba duets throughout the two movements. It was an interesting combination on sounds that is not typically exposed like it was in this piece. Yeah, the tuba and bassoon usually play the same part (bass line whole notes or metronome quarter notes) but it is never really exposed. This piece did exposed the bass line of bassoons and tubas which made the piece that much more interesting.


The second piece, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, was super fun to listen to and watch. I have played and sang many Eric Whitacre pieces and I feel as if his songs are either out of the ball park awesome or a foul behind home plate ( baseball season has begun!). This piece was by far a grand slam! Audience members were encouraged to follow a script written by Whitacre to make the story come to life. Let’s just say the song went from being notes on a page to seeing Godzilla come to life (literally and metaphorically)! The preformed pulled out sunglasses, Godzilla hats, and even had a dinner party on stage. The end of the piece was complete organized chaos. Lev Ivanov, the award winning conductor, flourished his hands and the band went crazy! Everyone was into it and I know for sure the saxophones enjoyed it; they just pressed random keys with no thought at all, kind of like a kind just learning to play.  However, in all this craziness, the tone was not lost. That for me was probably the most impressive part about the piece.


After a brief intermission, Sinfonia V as any other symphony- kind of boring, slow, and lyrical. But, the second section, Rag, was very upbeat and made the audience want to dance. If I played any other instrument, I would want to play sax just for this concert- not only in the last piece did they just press random keys, in this piece the saxophones just played their mouthpieces!  I think the audience could tell that the musicians genuinely enjoyed this section. In the fourth movement, Chorale, there was a beautiful bassoon and oboe duet followed by a bassoon solo. This solo and duet inspired me- this is what I will be apart of next year, the bar is set so high! In the sixth movement, Chant and Pavanne, the flutist played her solo perfectly! It was light and didn’t push vibrato, the vibrato came naturally. Since I am a bassoonist, I may be a little bias but the bassoon harmonies blew me away. There were many sections where the bassoon I & II has intervals of half steps and whole steps with the same rhythms. This meant that the margin for error (being out of tune, coming in early, rhythms) were close to none. It felt as if the bassoon players were both in synch with each other and were connected by the bocal (not the hip).


Finally, La Fiesta Mexicana stood out because of the polyrhythm (I believe that is what it is called) played by the chimes- a triplet in the right hand and eighth note douplets in the left. I can barely play douplets when there are eighth note triplets going on but to play both still makes my head spin! This polyrythm was a repeated theme throughout the three movements. In the third movement, Carnival, there was another unusual duet combination- the oboe and the trumpet. It had a very distinguished tamber yet a beautiful hidden sound. I don’t think someone who was not a musician would get the uniqueness of the sound or appreciate it as much, but Megan Losch and I were blown away.


Overall this concert was top notch. However, it was almost too laid back-to-back and lack of a better word, unprofessional in attire. During the intermission, a percussionist came on stage to talk with her friends in the audience without shoes. When the concert resumed, the percussionist still lacked shoes! Another thing I noticed was the pants, skirts, and dress length were all across the board. There was a saxophonist who had a short dress with sparkly tights on while another girl wore what appeared to be yoga crop leggings. All of the guys wore tuxes but the girls wore whatever black they desired. I think the thing that really got me was there were girls who were wearing different shades of black and not every girl had socks. There are many little things I take for granted and this concert made me realize that one of them was uniformity within a band. Ever since eighth grade, I was taught to look the same as everyone else in the band and socks were not optional. As annoying as this seemed to be, now I understand it. The uniform among band members makes the band look more professional and in essence sound better because people listen with their eyes as well as their ears. I guess it is just the little things that I appreciate. I wish I realized this sooner though! It does not seem like a big deal when I am performing, but as an audience member, I understand it.

Yet, despite the attire, the IWU Wind Ensemble deserved to be the winner of the American Prize! They played very cleanly and as a whole played with the same tone and love of music. Playing for the love of music produces a very different sound and it showed in this performance.


The only questions I am left asking myself are-
1. Why did the director leave / re enter the stage after every song?
2. Why did they re-tune after every song? (I mean I know the answer, it just seemed is)
3. When can I join?!
This concert was amazing to watch and inspired me for my future!

Beauty and the Beast Round 2

After seeing Beauty and The Beast with my mom, I went to see it with my boyfriend. There are small things I picked up but these little things made the movie even more magical. Here are some small things I notices-

  1. Audra McDonald played Madame Garderobe
  2. Dan Stevens further proves the point that accents make a person 100x more attractive (and English men are a blessing to us all)
  3. Do not underestimate a strong Bass
  4. Not all actors should sing but some may surprise you
  5. Still conflicted between who is hotter- the Beast or Prince Adam

Okay so Madame Garderobe was an amazing! I have never heard a stronger soprano voice. Then to realize Audra McDonald was behind Madame Garderobe, I was flabbergasted. I later discovered that McDonald went to Juilliard and studied musical theatre. Juilliard is a top school in the world and this actor who was seen as a doctor is suddenly a Broadway star? My mind was blown, but moreso because McDonald has so much talent that few people knew.

Next Dan Stevens is a blessing to this world! I saw him in Downton Abbey but could not care less. Downton Abbey was bOrInG! Maybe I thought that because my mom liked it, or maybe I did not care for the period piece, either way, Dan Stevens who? In this film, it was Dan Stevens? YES PLEASE!

Basses are strong and sexy! No one really gives them much credit because they sing one note- the bass line. They never have the melody and their part could be done by anyone in their sleep. But, Stevens gave so much more to basses. Steven’s voice in Evermore gave me goose bumps. He had a full strong sound that few people are gifted with. It was a surprise because no one expected it but also it was an incredibly hard song. Stevens pretty much belted the entire song without straining his voice. It was powerful and heartwarming. The second time was even better than the first.

Sometimes actors and singers try to pursue other areas and they shouldn’t. For example, Carrie Underwood, pretty good singer, God awful actor. Or Emma Stone, great actor, meh singer. However sometimes it works out for the better. This is true for Emma Watson. Yeah, her voice wasn’t breathtaking but it was innocent and sweet. Her voice gave the audience the feeling of comfort and youth. I again was happily surprised with the second dose of this movie.

Again, like most, I feel weird finding the Beast very attractive! At least Watson said herself that the Beast was very attractive! But, it is odd…

Either way, a small update on figuring out that Beauty and the Beast Round 2 was better than round 1.

The Final Audition

Every concert season we have to re-audition for chair placement in band. Chair placement is how we are ranked in band and receive our parts. For example, if you get 40/40 on your chair audition for trumpets, you would be considered principal trumpet player (or first chair). Sections rank from top to bottom depending on how many players are in your section. If you are lucky, like me, you only have only one person in your section rather than 10, such as the clarinet section.

For the past three years, I have been the only bassoonist in band until this year. This year a freshman joined top band and began some competition for me. I worked hard and earned my right to where I am today. After many auditions, I was on my last high school audition. Of course the audition came at a horrible time though. It was right before honor band and I was sick leading up to my audition day. Luckily my director allowed me to audition the day of honor band but after playing for a four hour rehearsal, we pushed it back to the following Monday. I practiced a little bit more over the weekend but was unable to practice as much as I would like because I had to work Anyway, Monday came and it was a normal morning- rushed. Because I was sick, I was on probiotics. Every morning my mom helps me out by getting my meds ready, now including the probiotic. These probiotics were white capsules with black writing but not noticeable, one of my medications for also is a white capsule with no black inking. Well both medications were out, so I thought. I took the white capsule without the black inking and went on my way. While driving to school, I noticed I was jittery and my eye was twitching. I just assumed it was anxiety over something stupid and shook it off but it kept getting worse and worse. When I got into my first class, my mom texted me in all caps “DID YOU TAKE BOTH MEDS ON THE COUNTER?!” I told her yes and she responded telling me that I took the wrong med.

Without my mom telling me, I could feel something was wrong. I was not normally a jittery person nor did my eye normally twitch. Needless to say, I screwed up. The entire day I was in and out of the nurse’s office to have my vitals checked. I was completely out of it and I felt like I was in a daze. The thing that sucked was I could not go home because of senior final exemption stuff. I sucked it up and went about my day in a weird haze so when my audition came up, I had no idea what notes were or how to even play what I prepared.

The audition was a bust! I screwed up everything but I felt as if I was not playing. My fingers were just running their course, even though I did not have it down to muscle memory yet. There were random notes everywhere and I had no idea what happened later.

When I got my results back, my director’s comments were “I know you weren’t feeling well but you had extra time to prepare, I expected more.”

I was furious! I worked hard but had no idea what was going on during the audition. I was drugged and in a haze. The thing that really got to me was the fact that they usually give at least one positive feedback comment but mine was all negative. I know I did not do well but it was frustrating for my last audition! There was nothing saying how much I grew or how my tone was even thought I was unaware of my surrounding. As annoyed as I am, I am so glad I am done with band now! Final concert coming soon, thank god!

Beauty and the Beast

After honor band, my mom and I had one thing on our mind- Beauty and the Beast! I have loved this movie ever since I was little and I have been waiting for almost two years to see it again in theaters. Thankfully, it was everything I hoped and dreamed it to be.

It started differently with a more elaborate back story of the prince and his castle and then it was exactly as I remember it to be. Emma Watson, who played Belle in this remake, is one of my favorite actresses and after the Harry Potter series, the world has been waiting for her to do something big again. Once she announced she was going to be the role of Belle in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast, the world held its breath. This was Watson’s next big thing.

Like many, I was worried that this movie would not do the original justice. Would Emma Watson be able to sing? What would the Beast look like? Will the ballroom scene be as magical as it was in the original? As critic reviews came out, I went into the movie with high hopes of reliving my childhood.

*SPOILERS*

The movie was everything I hoped/ expected and more! Not only was the acting and singing incredible, what really caught me was the costumes. Everyone in the opening ball scene had gorgeous, elaborate, and unique costumes. The dresses were tighter at the top and fluffy at the bottom, just imagine dancing in them… Then I was hit with this beautiful opera voice accompanied by this marvelous harpsichord. Although the actress looked familiar, I could not put my finger on what exa

Honor Band

On Friday March 17, I had a decision to make: go on my AP Biology field trip to the Field Museum or to do District 211 Honor Band. After lots of thoughts, I chose to work with Jay Gephart from Purdue University. I was asked to do honor band and I am glad I chose it over a field trip.

This past week I have been super sick! I have not missed a full day of school for being sick since I was in 5th grade with the swine flu, so I guess it was my time to get sick again and miss three days… But this held my back from working on my music as intently as I should. I had to prepare my band audition (which thankfully I had an extension on) and honor band. It was a lot on my plate but I somehow managed to juggle it.

All of Friday was rehearsing and preparing for Saturday’s concert. It is kind of crazy to think that a bunch of different students from five high schools, most of whom have never met, were able to put a concert together in 24 hours. The D211 Honor Band compiled the top students from all five high school band programs and put on a professional concert. In order to do this, everyone had to lift their own weight. Despite being sick, I was able to hold my own. However, the student that I was sitting next to could not. It was frustrating because many of us worked incredibly hard to perfect the music and here was this kid practicing the music next to me! For anyone unfamiliar with music, there is a BIG difference between practice and rehearsal.

Rehearsing is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I guess where practicing is the peanut butter and rehearsal is like the jelly. Practicing is working on individual challenging sections and getting better on them during the musicians time, like some people just eat a peanut butter sandwich, which is good. Rehearsal is the ensemble’s time to practice as a whole to piece the music together as one ensemble. Not many people eat just a jelly sandwich, so in order to enjoy that jelly sandwich people add peanut butter which is the practicing. Likewise, in order to rehearse, musicians must practice individually.

After forcing myself not to get annoyed with the kid, I had to focus on myself and my own music. This concert consisted of four songs but the one that was the best was Minimalist Dances composed by Matt Conaway. Of course being a bassoon player, I was stuck with rests for the first twenty measures but it allowed me to take in what was going on. The third clarinets began to play a groove that the second clarinets had to fit into while playing a different part and then adding the first clarinets in. It almost seemed as if the entire clarinet section was playing different songs but they set our foundation. Once all of the layers of the band were added on, the race began. There were accents everywhere but in different places for every section. This then became a unique polyrhythm that the band had. Every section had a soli (a solo that everyone plays) that was passed around the band. In the middle of the piece, the bassoons, trombones, tubas, and possibly some other low winds played a semi-chromatic sequence. This sequence was played with a pizzicato style, meaning that we had to sound like a bass.  I honestly was uneasy about the piece because it seemed kind of an awkward piece but I loved it! There were so many components to it that it was like a puzzle to build.

The concert the next day was nothing short of success. Everyone put their hard work in (well except for some) and to see the payoff that quickly was unusual yet rewarding. It was the first time in a long time that I truly loved playing my instrument. For a while, it felt like band and practicing, and even playing my bassoon was more of an annoying chore than a pleasure but this concert reminded me why I love what I do.

Check out the song!                                                                   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OI5o5Hcpr8