Music. A Scholarship Essay

percussion-ensemble

The following is adapted from a scholarship essay I wrote on the prompt of “What are you average at and how does the Lake Wobegon Effect (a natural tendency to overestimate one’s capabilities and see oneself as better than others. Research psychologists refer to this tendency as self-enhancement bias and have found evidence for its existence in many domains) affect that?”

It was weird to write this, but also enlightening. 🙂


I come from a musical family. 

My dad played french horn and trumpet in marching band, but also plays piano and guitar, and, thanks to Amazon having a deal on them, ukulele. He taught my mom to play the drums a little when she was pregnant with me, and that’s my theory of where I got my passion for proper rhythm.  Mom was never classically trained outside of playing clarinet in high school, but she has a great ear for right and wrong, so she’s helped me train my voice.  My stepdad is a complete music nerd and we own way too many guitars and mandolins and octave mandolins everything inbetween.  I took piano lessons for five years and played percussion in a Christian homeschool concert band for the past two years.  All my sisters and I also sing in the same organization’s choir. 

All of this to say, music is a huge part of my life 

So, understandably, most people tell me that I’m good at music.  But I’m scared to believe them because I don’t want to be wrong.  What if they’re just being nice?  I’m afraid of having this false idea that I’m quite good when I’m really not, because that would be obnoxious to other people who actually are good.  I’m so scared of the Lake Wobegon Effect that I overcompensate by telling myself I’m average, if not slightly below.   

To help keep myself in this “humility,” I hold myself to impossible standards and compare my skills to others’ around me.  The internet gives me an infinite amount of people to compare myself to, but I’m also surrounded by very talented people.  I feel like if I can’t play guitar effortlessly like my stepdad, piano delicately and powerfully like my dad, drums and mallets perfectly and confidently like our band’s first-chair percussionist, or sing accurately and melodiously like the competitors on The Voice, why am I even advertising myself as a musician?  There are so many people better than me! 

I don’t want people to think that I think I’m as good as those incredibly-talented stars. 

But then I run into people who are amazed that I noticed that a song on the radio is in ¾ time.  Since I think I’m average, I’m shocked at their lack of knowledge.  Instead of understanding that not everybody understands what I do, my first mental reaction is that they must be unusually uneducated.  Which. Is. Not. True.  Instead of having a realistic appreciation for how much I actually know, I grade people on a curve, putting myself as something like the 67th percentile.  This makes people seem much less savvy than they are, since I really do know a lot about music theory.   

Every time I do well in an audition, I assume that it was just easy, or that the judges don’t have very high standards.  I’ve chained myself to this idea that I am unable to do hard things, that I am relatively unskilled, and that anyone could do what I do.  That there’s nothing special about me or my abilities. I hear the people complimenting me, but I also hear them complimenting other people who may or may not have done well.  The insecurities rise!  

But this attitude ignores my own hard work and the hours I spent crying at the piano when I was eight years old because I couldn’t figure out Three Blind Mice by ear.  It ignores the afternoons I spent playing the guitar and refining my strumming pattern even though my fingers were turning blue.  It ignores the moments when I’m in a room with a piano and feel my soul being drawn to it inexplicably.  I have a connection with and passion for music that I can’t ignore, lest I go crazy. 

If I ignore the power and beauty of the music I love, I will never be able to take advantage of all I can do with it in God’s service. 

And to tell myself these lies, that what I do isn’t special, isn’t good, or isn’t worthwhile, is to discredit God’s work in my life.  He is the one who gave me my passion for music.  He is the one who inspires me to bless people with my music and singing.  If He’s calling me to devote a bigger part of my time to getting better at some instrument, and I just point at someone else who’s better, then I’m no different than Moses reminding God that Aaron was a better speaker.  I’ve always yelled at Moses to man up and trust God. If He calls you, He knows you can do it! It’s through His power anyway, dummy!  Well, I guess I need to take my own advice.   

There’s always going to be someone better, who is legitimately good (in my estimation) at what they do, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to get better.  The idea of minoring in Music isn’t out of the picture just because someone else is way more talented than I am. If I can bless someone with my music (which, praise God, I’ve already been able to do), then it’s all worth it!  Whatever training I can get, God can use.  And I trust Him on that.  


Squid 🙂

 

J-SALT fam

The rain came down / And the friends came / Together

The power of piano / And paper airplanes / Thank you, Sarah / Paul

The dining hall / Is now my home / And J-SALT / Family


I don’t like how WordPress formats my poetry in the excerpt for the posts, so I’m trying a new format…

This poem was from the prompt “A Storm”, and I wrote it in Camp Gilead’s dining hall after cleaning up with the rest of the junior counselors, who were working as kitchen staff during Teen Week. The usual kitchen staff are SALT members (Service And Leadership Training), so we called ourselves J-SALT (Junior Counselor SALT). There is a piano in the Hall (don’t ask why), and our SALT leader, Paul, and the lovely Sarah, the nurse’s assistant who helped out whenever she could, played us some lovely piano pieces. It was a really sweet time, so I pulled out my poetry prompt journal to try to express what I was feeling.

Camp is officially over, and I’m trying to reclaim some sort of normalcy before I start school on Monday Hopefully I’ll get some more posts written and all that jazz. 🙂

Squid

Running 

I watched you cry today.
Your little feet were carrying you as fast as they could, when, 

BAM!  

Forehead, meet wall.

The waterworks came with a loud scream.

Mommy was back on duty, and sister-recreation time was over…

Or so I thought.

Less than a minute later, you’re back to

Running.  

With tears in your eyes 

But a smile on your face, 

We resumed the game as if nothing had ever happened.

But when we took a break, 

The sniffles returned, and you crawled into my lap, looking for security.  

A few moments of R&R…

And we’re back!

To running

-Squid

P.S. The Truth About Running – Studio C seems timely… 

On Solar eclipses… 

Although Floridians only get a partial viewing of this solar eclipse, I’m still really excited!!  

As I write this, my dad and sister are in the pool (the true Floridian way to wait), and I’m monitoring the camera equipment. 

Focusing on the sun is fun… *not*

I found a great blog post on the incredible design God put into our world as evidenced by perfect solar eclipses.  It’s amazing!  

Enjoy the eclipse, where ever you are!

-Sydney

Camp Staff Family Nostalgia; A Poem of Sadness and Love

I’m missing them,
Slowly forgetting
Those I once knew
So well.

Why does time
Have to
Fade
What I want to
Stay vibrant
?

The memories
I cherish 
Of a group of people
I love so much
Still
Are painfully drifting
Away.

A rush of joy
From bonding with
A whole new family
For one
Short summer.
But then
Having to leave
Them behind
Me.

-Sydney

Shoutout to:

  • Way too long titles
  • Finally using my real name;  I think it’s time…
  • Night poetry (this one was written at 12:12am)
  • Turning 17 in 4 days!!
  • Surviving my first summer as a junior counselor!
  • Semicolons for being underappreciated and frequently misused.

A Long Time Ago In a Galilee Far Far Away

No, I did not just mess up my Star Wars reference, I actually meant exactly what I said. Why?  Because a long time ago (the end of July 2016) in a Little Galilee Christian Camp High School Main Week 2 far, far away (In Illinois, which is a two-day drive from Florida) I had one of the greatest weeks of my life.

I had never thought that I’d actually go to a summer camp, but my dad knows a guy. 🙂 Mr. Bob and my dad helped out at church camps together when they were in college, and, this year, Mr. Bob was the dean at the second High School week. He invited my dad to come up to Illinois and help him out as a staff member for the week.  My dad loved the idea, but it was my birthday week and he would have had to miss my birthday.  When he mentioned this, Mr. Bob suggested that he just “bring her too!”  They were able to get a scholarship for me because my dad would be working there, so my dad and I drove for two days and arrived late, somehow.  Thankfully, we were able to get registered and my camp experience was commenced!

The worship for that week was a led by a band from Ozark Christian College called Frontline.  Each year, students audition to be part of this band, so the lineup always changes.  I was blown away by this group’s enthusiasm for worshipping God and learning to know Him better, despite the terrible things some of them had been through.  They were such an encouragement to me and I am so thankful to God for putting me with them. (Also, my dad had toured with their predecessors, Impact Brass! :D)

Ryan, their drummer, was my family group leader, aka “dad”.  If you’re not familiar with family groups, the premise is this: You have 60ish campers and 20+ staff.  That doesn’t give you very many opportunities for real relationships to form and for people to lose their shyness.  So, they split us up into 6 family groups of about 10-14 people, each with 2-3 staff members to lead it.  My “mom” was Amie, one of the four students from Central Christian College of the Bible.  I also had an “uncle”, Jacob, the sound technician from Frontline who likes Star Wars and Relient K and was homeschooled up until college. How could we not get along?

wp-image-584721704jpg.jpg
From left-right, back row: Brennan/Brandon (I never actually knew his name; there was another guy with whichever name isn’t his), Ryan, Isaiah (Poe) with Thomas behind him, my friend Hallie with whom I hung out pretty much all week, Zach, and Jacob. From l-r, front row: Rachel (one of two, both in my cabin), Aly (also one of two in my cabin), Lexi (my dorm mother’s daughter), Amie (the sass is strong with this one), me, and Taylor.

That was my amazingly crazy family and I loved them.  I mentioned in my preview post that our family name was The Spicy Bois… I suppose I should tell the story.

We were waiting in line for the zip line (we went by family group) and started talking about Florida since that’s where I’m from.  Fire ants were mentioned, along with the fact that a petition was started to change their official name to Spicy Bois.  Somehow, this was agreed upon to be our family group.  We decided that, in addition to a name, we also needed an anthem.  Soooo singing the words “Spicy Bois” over and over to the Jurassic Park theme became a regular occurrence.  I hummed it constantly, haha.

That week of camp was crazy.  My legs were really sore from walking to and from everywhere up and down hills, but they eventually just got strong… eventually. 😛  I laughed a lot, learned new songs, cried way more than I thought I would, and made some great new friends and memories that I hope I never forget.  I’m so thankful that God worked everything out, and there were so many fingerprints he left behind that I’m uncovering now.  Our God is good! 😀

Anyway, I’m sorry this a terribly belated post, but I hope you guys enjoyed it. 🙂

Squid

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Watching… Remembering

Hanging on the wall
There,
The opaquely-backed panes of glass
Watching…
Remembering…

The family’s
Comings and goings,
Tears and joy.
All stored within
A reflection of ourselves.

Mirrors they are,
And for a lifetime will remain,
But even they,
With all their memories
Cannot adequately reflect
The true emotions observed. 

Squid

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