Wow - I haven't blogged here since June? Really? How is that possible??
A lot has happened since last June. I walked Commencement at Foothill College, I attended the Walden School Teacher Training Institute, I took American History & German 101 at Palomar College, plus Vocal Ensemble at CSUSM, I started a new ensemble, I got a church job ...
... and it was at Palomar on the first day of Fall Semester that I saw a sign that said that CSUSM was accepting applications for mid-year admissions. They don't usually do that. Usually you have to apply in fall for the NEXT year's fall semester - meaning you apply Fall 2010 for admission to Fall 2011. This application period was for admission to Spring 2011, which starts in January. They weren't 100% certain they were actually going to be able to admit anyone - it all depended on the California budget that was in process of being approved - but things looked promising.
The sign said that the application deadline was in 2 weeks! So I filled out an online application that night & frantically ordered transcripts from all the post-secondary schools I've attended (BGSU, UC, LCC, FC, DAC, and Palomar), crossed my fingers & settled down to wait.
Long story short: I was accepted as a Junior with no conditions. That means that I suddenly went from being someone who was doing General Education stuff at the local Community College to someone who is in the middle of her Junior Year in College!
... and THAT means that I have to start looking at grad schools because I have to apply for them THIS FALL! Eep!
(I've actually been thinking off-and-on about grad school since this past summer, but now that I know I have to actually DO something about it "soon" I've been thinking about it more "on" than "off"!)
I have been planning to pursue a Masters in Conducting. I have a few options for schools. San Diego State University is of course on the list. It's the obvious choice because it's so close by. However, it's a very competitive school for music: they only accept 7 conducting students per year and the application requirements are difficult to fulfill. Not impossible, but difficult enough that I can see the program is obviously intended for people with a fairly substantial amount of experience with orchestral (or other large group) conducting. Plus, the classes are mostly in the evening to accommodate the working life of most grad students. Unfortunately, I mostly work nights - did I mention I have a church job now? - because the people I direct have day jobs. So where else might I go, if not SDSU?
California Baptist University is in Riverside. That's not too far away from me, probably about 1.5 hours. I have a friend who lives in Lake Elsinore who offered to let me stay at her place during the week while I'm attending classes. They have a Conducting program PLUS the FAQ page for their Performance degree says that you can study with a teacher of your choice. That is, you're not limited to studying with one of their faculty members. Hmm, does that mean that I could study Performance with handbells as my instrument? Could I possibly do a double degree - BOTH Conducting AND Performance? Again, though, their classes are mostly at night.
Azusa Pacific University is near Pasadena. A little farther away than Riverside, and requires dealing with a bit of LA traffic, but not outside the realm of possibilities. They also offer both Conducting and Performance AND they have a handbell choir, taught by Dr. Donavon Gray, who does a lot of teaching in AGEHR Area XII.
Another possibility is Redlands University in Redlands. North of Riverside and a bit inland, this is where my friend Beth Mays is currently working on a BA in handbells. I know she plans to pursue a Masters, too, and is also in the middle of her Junior year, so perhaps we could attend together?
All of these options, though appealing, would require me to spend a lot of time away from my home and my husband. Sure, we're used to a bit of that, since I travel so much, but it would be nice to not have it be *every* week. I found the fall of 2009 - when Brian was living in San Diego & I was still in the Bay Area - to be very difficult. Darnit - we got married because we wanted to be together!!
OK, so there's still one more option and it's looking more appealing to me all the time. Concordia University in Wisconsin offers a Masters in Church Music with Handbell Emphasis that can be completed by attending 5-week summer sessions over the course of 3 consecutive years. (If you miss a year, you have to wait for those topics to come back around again in the rotation.)
One disadvantage I see is that it's NOT a degree in Conducting. I'd really like to be able to be a "marquee conductor" in the handbell world. I'm making inroads in that regard & think that getting a degree would be an important step toward that goal.
However, the advantages I see to this are:
- I would very likely be able to start the same summer I get my BA, which means I could *finish* almost a year earlier than with the other programs -- Summer 2014 rather than Spring 2015.
- It would leave my regular year free to do things like re-start my solo performance career, teach more workshops, and maybe even relax a little! (Nah....)
- and perhaps most importantly: take other classes in Piano, Ear Training, Counterpoint, Conducting, etc., without being constrained by degree requirements.
This makes me much more comfortable with the idea of NOT doing a Masters specifically in Conducting -- there's nothing stopping me from taking as many classes in conducting as I can!
Now, where did I put that Concordia application?