On February 10th, 2012 (my mother’s birthday), I showed up at the Kodak Theater at the Eastman School of Music at 9:00am, along with dozens of other prospective students. It was audition day, and I was thirty-three weeks pregnant. Needless to say, I felt a little self-conscious heaving myself into one of the seats with my ten-pound audition binder, and I was nervous. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t let my heart rate or blood pressure go haywire because it would be bad for Bun, but when I learned my audition time was 10:30am (the first slot!), I freaked out.
Off I went. I felt good about my audition afterwards; it was 45 minutes long even though it felt like five, and I knew that regardless of the outcome, I had done something pretty amazing. I’d managed to prepare a challenging audition program: two instrumental sonatas (Sonata in A Major, Op. 100 for Violin and Piano by Brahms, Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 5 No. 2 by Beethoven), five songs in different keys (for soprano, mezzo, etc.), an aria, and a memorized solo (Bartok’s Suite Op. 14), and I had to sightread. I was also applying for two graduate assistantships–class piano and choral accompanying, and had prepared materials for both interviews. I got up at 5:30 almost every weekday morning to practice at school before classes began, and practiced during every available free period and after school. Weekends were trickier because my kids were home and I needed some family downtime, but I did what I could. Daniel and I presented a recital at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, showcasing the vocal portion of my audition, and I played my solo piece. I found professional string players to help me with the sonatas, and had a lesson in Baltimore with Nancy to help prepare me. All of this was in addition to teaching piano lessons and classes, music theory, directing the Chamber Singers, doing the musical in the fall, and coordinating the school’s music ministry.
I don’t know how I did it. Besides, by February 10th I was a WHALE, and I still had eight weeks to go. I was standing in line at Pizza Plant with Connor and Adrienne on a Friday night about a month after my audition, waiting for a table. I knew I’d be finding out results pretty soon, and I’d been checking my email all day long, crossing my fingers. I took a perfunctory glance at my inbox, and there it was.
I’d been accepted.
I jumped up and down, screaming and shaking. My kids just stared at me, and when I told them the news, Connor let out a huge WHOOP! right there in the restaurant. I called Daniel, I called my mom, I posted it on Facebook, and I still couldn’t believe it.
Eleanor took her dear sweet time entering this world, and after a sonogram on April 4th estimated her weight at over eleven pounds, my midwife convinced me to have an induction. Just before midnight on April 5th, she arrived after an hour and a half of active labor (thanks, Pitocin, but I’ll never forgive you), weighing in at 9 pounds, 15 ounces. She was a tank. She was also a nice distraction for two weeks, and since I didn’t have to notify Eastman until a month after my acceptance, I wasn’t actively thinking about the huge decision I/we had to make.
A telephone call from Dr. Jean Barr, coordinator of the Accompanying program, gave me the push I needed. It wasn’t fair to make others on the waiting list…well, WAIT, and I already knew in my heart what I wanted to do. We were going to move to Rochester and give this crazy plan a chance. I had promises for assistance coming every which way, and I viewed the opportunity much like I viewed my teaching job–it would be difficult, but I’d made it this far, and I wasn’t going to give up just because it was difficult. I was tough.
And then September hit.