Final Moments of 2016

2016 has been such a blur, and I can't believe I made it. Here's where I went:

  1. Nashville, TN
  2. Interlochen, MI
  3. Detroit, MI
  4. Shenandoah, VA
  5. Rochester, NY
  6. Cincinnati, OH
  7. Ann Arbor, MI
  8. Baltimore, MD
  9. Fredonia, NY
  10. Waco, TX
  11. New York, NY
  12. Seagrove Beach, FL
  13. Atlanta, GA

Here's what I did:

  1. Auditioned at 9 schools
  2. Got accepted to all of them
  3. Saw Hamilton
  4. Had my first big band piece performed by the one and only Interlochen Jazz Band
  5. Got to collaborate with my wonderful roommate Liz to create a theater piece about body image
  6. Had my first choral piece performed by the Portara Ensemble (twice... I got to accompany the second time)
  7. Played in my first pit for my first show (RENT)
  8. Graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy
  9. Turned 17
  10. Put together a senior recital
  11. Started (and will soon be finished with) a Musical Theatre Song Cycle (more on that later...)
  12. Played some of my favorite music on the radio
  13. Moved to Rochester, NY to attend Eastman School of Music
  14. Had my marimba solo published by Row-Loff percussion
  15. Assistant music directed/accompanied my second show (The Last Five Years)
  16. Started rehearsals as co-music director for my third show! (Next to Normal)

Here's what inspired me:

  1. My colleagues. You never cease to amaze me.
  2. My parents. I have no idea how they've made a living as musicians while raising two (borderline insane) children.
  3. Pasek and Paul. I listened to their music every single day.
  4. Jason Robert Brown. I listened to his music right after the Pasek and Paul.
  5. Paola Prestini. It only took an hour long masterclass for her to remind me why I liked modern music in the first place.
  6. Sunday in the Park with George. I knew I could always turn to this show to see art that says important things, while still telling a good story. It made me think.
  7. Dog Sees God by Bert V. Royal. Even the most innocent of characters can struggle with real problems too.

Here's what I learned:

  1. I may get frustrated with my parents every time I'm home (@ dad please stop singing along to the Copland playing on the TV right now), but they're the only ones who will always be there for my after-class rants about modern music.
  2. Speaking of modern music rants.................. This year has taught me that the Second Viennese School is alive and well. But it's also taught me that I can and should work toward being able to look at my music and say, "It's different, but it's still something I'm proud of."
  3. Sightreading is hard. But it's my favorite thing to practice (sorry @ scales)
  4. Artistic insecurity is just as real is any other kind of insecurities, and acknowledging your brokenness does NOT make you weak.
  5. Some people don't like when girls are in authoritative positions. But if you're doing a good job, they can't complain about anything.
  6. There is real value in alone time, but if you're not careful, you'll go three weeks without any real conversation, and that's not good either. Finding a balance is hard, but necessary for sanity.
  7. "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation." I feel like this was kind of Jonathan Larson's way of saying the same thing as when Einstein said, "The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." Sometimes the most important thing we can do to combat the crazy world we live in is to make stuff.
  8. Suffering is good, somehow. This is really easy to say when you and/or someone you love is not the one suffering, but it's still true. Pain only prepares you for the future, and you can take full advantage of it if you acknowledge your brokenness (see #4).
  9. Sometimes when people aren't in your life anymore, that means you've learned all you can from them. Instead of being sad that you're done learning from them, focus on the new people you can learn from.
  10. DO NOT LOSE YOUR BACKUP HARD DRIVE. BECAUSE THEN WHEN YOUR COMPUTER CRASHES, THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO.
  11. Finding yourself is tricky. And that's why I won't say that I've learned how to do it yet. We all have labels based on where we come from, what we love, who we love, what we do, and why we do it, among other things. This year, I've become really conscious of the difference between nouns and adjectives when it comes to our labels. Can I be a composer without many of the qualities usually associated with the noun? Of course. I can be someone who writes music. Can I love musical theatre without feeling knowledgeable/capable enough to call myself a real theatre kid? Of course. I can just be someone who is passionate about musical theatre. This semester in particular, I've tried really hard to eliminate as many noun labels as possible from my vocabulary, whether I'm talking about myself or others. It helps to avoid putting myself and/or other people in boxes, as well as emphasizing the fact that we choose what defines us. The only nouns I use are the ones I feel really strongly about: I am a Christian, I am a musician, etc.. But beyond that, I choose to define myself with adjectives and verbs to describe what I care about, not nouns to loosely describe some twisted version of who I am. 
  12. Time is a valuable resource. Use it for yourself wisely, and if you're unsure of what someone else needs, usually some of your time is a good thing to give them.
  13. This year I've encountered quite a few instances where I did all I could do, and it still wasn't good enough, whether that was socially or artistically or academically. Sometimes, I was able to look at that failure and say, "I tried my best, there's nothing else I could have done, and I'm still proud of myself." But most of the time when my best wasn't enough, my thought process was more along the lines of, "If my best is awful, there must be something wrong with me." And I'm still learning to balance those feelings. How do you learn from failure without thinking you'll never be good enough? I think the noun-verb/adjective thing helped a lot: I can fail without being a failure, but it's still been tough to figure out what to do when I'm not proud of myself or my accomplishments. 
  14. Consciousness is the most important thing I have learned about this year. I have worked very hard to become more conscious of my emotions, my tendencies, my feelings, my peers' feelings, my habits, my thought processes, my surroundings, the things that make me happy, the things that make me sad, the things that make me think, and the way I think about them. Overall, I think I just thought a lot more this year, which opened me up to many more opportunities to observe and learn and change and grow.
  15. Finally, I've learned that when nobody is there and you don't know what to do, trusting in God always works. When everything feels out of control, I have a tendency to grab wildly until I find something I can be in charge of. But the two problems with that are that a. I can never be in charge of everything, and b. even if I could, I would inevitably mess it up. This year, I've prayed in ways I'd never prayed before. I've cried out to God in ways I never thought I would need to. And He has given me peace.

2016 has been a huge year full of huge accomplishments, and I've changed more than I thought was possible. Thanks for sharing it with me! Have a wonderful year :)

ThoughtsReagan Casteel