Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
It is often thought that the fastest route to Carnegie Hall is practice. I would never discredit the importance of practice, knowing its vitality in my own vocal development, but I believe confidence is equally important to success for any performer.
My journey to Carnegie Hall began in my star-spangled dress at my first-grade talent show. After persistent encouragement from my mother and grandmother, I had prepared my own rendition of “The Prayer”, to audition for a spot in the annual show. An introvert by nature, public communication had never come easily to me and my tendency to remain silent had become an identity. Nothing compared to my peers’ shocked faces when I cautiously approached the dimly lit stage. Despite my thorough practice, I skipped a verse, feeling utterly defeated as I exited the stage.
For a long time after that first performance, I routinely became petrified when onstage. Because of my lack of confidence, despite my training, my voice’s quality rarely translated to live performance, and to save myself from future embarrassment I settled for private lessons and putting on never publicly enjoyed shower performances.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I began to emerge from my musical cocoon. After moving states and schools I had decided to fully surround myself with music, to ease the difficulty of acclimating to my new home. I decided to give vocal performance another chance, choosing to pursue group performance. Throughout middle school, I had made region choirs, competed in Solo and Ensemble competitions, and rehearsed with school choruses, but I continued to be reluctant to sing in front of audiences. In high school, auditioning and earning a spot in the Region Choir and a professional chorus boosted my morale enough to sign up to audition for my favorite musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat”. As it was my first show, and I was the only teenager auditioning, I realistically expected to be cast as an insignificant chorus role. I was astonished to learn I was cast as one of four Narrators, sharing the largest role in the musical. Unwilling to sing in front of my cast members throughout the first few rehearsals, I resolved to emulate the performances of the three other women playing Narrators, finding their vocals simple to reproduce, but their confidence challenging to replicate. As opening night approached, after three months of rehearsals, I was nearly overcome by anxiety. I was sure I would crack under the pressure of performing with actors who had years more experience and a confident stage presence. I approached the stage determined to match the confidence of my peers. That decision led to my first successful experience as an actress. After the final bow I realized that practice is important but confidence is crucial.
Stretching myself beyond my comfort zone allowed me to experience the confidence I lacked. Over the next few years of high school my new outlook allowed me to enjoy performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and three more plays at the Art Centre Theatre.The miracle of singing in Canterbury Cathedral, the Eismann Center and on the Branson Belle Showboat with my chorus; anxiety free and filled with an increasingly natural confidence was freeing.Instead of nervously dreading one of my most thrilling performances to date, I look forward to standing on the stage Carnegie Hall in New York City in the summer of 2018 .
As an accomplished vocalist and aspiring actress, I have studied music theory and composition and learned about the importance of maintaining vocal health. But by far, the most pivotal lesson I’ve learned is that confidence, even when it doesn’t come easily, is critical to any successful performance. Embracing a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ approach has allowed me to overcome overwhelming performance anxiety. Practice is a given, but confidence has been my route to Carnegie Hall.