I have thought about you all over the break and have prayed that you would find rest, restoration, and a renewed sense of purpose and strength. Each of you possesses a unique set of skills and talents, and it is increasingly apparent to me that you 1) deserve to be here, 2) have both the maturity and the fortitude to continue along this path.
For a few of you, you may have decided that you needed to change majors, or at least rethink your current major. This is completely normal and why you came here in the first place! I remember early on in my musical study at Rice, I often worried I hade made the wrong decision or maybe I overestimated my ability to follow this dream I had of being a professional musician. After a very long first semester of what seemed like endless hours in the practice room, learning scales, it was much less sexy and appealing than I had imagined. No worse for the wear, I elected to stick it out and just do the dirty work - that is, actually learn the scales.... and I mean, every possible kind of major, minor, harmonic, melodic, modal, pattern and arpeggio known to all of western music... That was my assignment and I absolutely hated every second of it... Or did, I?
When I finally stopped worrying about where I ranked, and how good everyone else was, and simply began the process of learning, something strange happened. I got better. I began to relish my little practice cave in the basement of the music building. I found a time early in the morning, before classes that allowed me to get in and get out. I found I enjoyed coffee.. I stared a running routine and ran to the music building before practice. I went to my first class a little less fresh and sat in the back.
I began to look forward going in deep on patterns, Arban etudes, and Blazhevich sequences... I found a mysterious sense of calm and security in the routine I had established - through necessity and invention. I began to take inventory of how far I had come and was proud of the quality and became less concerned about the monumental task ahead of me. I thought much less about how everyone else was better and more about how much better I was doing..
Perhaps you have found yourself neck deep in code, formulas, theory, biology terms, cellular work or anatomy. The first semesters of school may also have NOTHING to do with things that matter to you. You are "forced" to take Christian Scriptures, or Heritage, or a writing course, or perhaps you are plowing through British Lit!! This is where practice can help. Find your routine, do the dirty work, and eventually, you may just find some peace. Don't wait for your conditions to change to be joyful. Learn to chose joy in spite of your conditions.
I remember taking African Pre-history, Space Physics, Sociology, The Japanese Mind, Bismarck To WW2, Shakespeare, and a writing course that nearly decimated my GPA.... Oceanography or "underwater rocks for jocks" seemed a safe bet for a budding musician trying to spend hours a day practicing, but I was sorely mistaken.
It is so strange how at the time I considered these courses my plight and suffrage for a cause to purse my musical dreams - but now - I remember every one of those classes FONDLY! How is that possible? My professors showed mercy and were genuinely concerned. They helped me and they seemed proud, as if I possessed some innate ability that I myself knew nothing about... They actually thought I was worth the trouble... They would actually come to my Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra Concerts and make it a point to tell me how much they enjoyed the Mahler, or the Berlioz, and asked me to write a little something about the text found in Orf's Carmina Burana...
Like me, you may have made mistakes along the way and miscalculated one thing or another. Baylor is a good fit for you. You are becoming better people and I know you are developing into beautiful women with high standards, excellent ideals, and a true sense of strong character.
Life is very good. Try to love one another. I think you women are doing well, and I know you have great things in store. Pray that God will direct your paths, stay open in all your classes, and seek His face, feel His presence, and trust His love.
Say hello to me when I pass - you make my day. You are lovely and I am proud.