But Seriously, Music

A Ridiculously Long Post (With Pictures)

What is this feeling, so sudden and new? I felt the moment…
I walked out of my sophomore platform.
My pulse isn’t rushing,
My head isn’t reeling.
My face isn’t flushing.
What is this feeling?
Fervid as a flame, does it have a name?
Yes….yeeeeeeeeeees!
Freedom! Nearly-absolute freedom! And peace! And lack of stress!

Okay. Bad Wicked parodies aside, I am basically floating right now. Remember how I termed the past two weeks “Death Week” and “Lesser Death Week”? I wasn’t joking. They were every bit as crazy as I anticipated–maybe, in fact, even worse.

They started with my final project for music theory 2–I project which I intended to have done before break so I wouldn’t have to stress over it during and after break. Well. The “have it done early!!” thing didn’t happen, so the “stress and freak out!!” thing definitely did happen. Through the graciousness of my teacher who extended the deadline, the help of fellow librarians who covered my shifts so I could furiously compose, the encouragement of the other music students who were also furiously composing, the prayers of many friends and family members, the Cheerwine (it’s soda, not alcohol…don’t worry!) generously donated by that fellow I like, and (most importantly) the grace of God, it was somehow done in time–and it even got a pretty decent grade. Though yes, I will be doing revisions this upcoming week. But they won’t be as bad. Lord willing.

As soon as the project was professionally paperclipped and turned in, the focus shifted to the Christmas concert. Last week had no fewer than nine hours of extra rehearsals…not to mention the normal chorale and Jubilate and orchestra practices. And the private practice times. And the hours when we were actually having the concert. On top of that, each wing is supposed to decorate their hallway for the much-anticipated “open dorms”…the only time of the year when girls and boys can go into each other’s rooms. My wing chose the theme “Christmas in the Library,” and the fabulous Bethani and Taylor basically planned out the entire thing, made a list of needed supplies, and delegated responsibilities. (Thanks Bethani and Taylor! You’re fantastic!) (I don’t think they read this.) (But I’m giving them a shoutout anyhow.) I took some pictures because it looked pretty great. The pictures aren’t too great, but they’re pictures.

We stared with the circulation desk...
We stared with the circulation desk…
...where this sign warns that it won't be a typical library perspective.
…where this sign warns that it won’t be a typical library perspective.
Inside the "mousehole," giant books line the walls.
Inside the “mousehole,” giant books line the walls.
If you look closely...you might see the book I made!
If you look closely…you might see the book I made!

Do you know how many plastic tablecloths it takes to make an entire hallway look like that? More than 30. I am not kidding. It’s a lot of tablecloths. The lady at Dollar Tree thought we were crazy. But we won the contest, and thus get a pizza party…so it was worth it.

The concert itself went pretty well. Of course, there are always things that could go better, but overall, both performances went smoothly. And thus ended “Death Week.”

Me and my purty seester after a concert. Excuse the terrible quality.
Me and my purty seester after a concert. Excuse the terrible quality.

“Lesser Death Week” began with the realization that I had my sophomore platforms on Thursday. For those of you who aren’t in the world of music majors, “sophomore platforms” is like a mini private recital in which the music chairs decide whether or not you’re good enough to continue on in the program. Basically, the future of your musical education decided in fifteen minutes of performance. Let’s just say I was nervous–especially because I did not feel ready at all. During my final lesson of the semester, I stumbled through my pieces as if I had never seen them before, and I was pretty sure that was going to happen again on jury day. Monday I practiced until I could practice no more.

Tuesday, we took our Christmas concert on the road: in the afternoon, to prison, and in the evening, to a bank. It was a long day–but great. Being inside a high-security prison is a weird feeling, and it’s hard to describe what it was like. You know the sound the heavy door makes when it dramatically shuts and locks behind you? It’s a scary sound when it’s dramatically shutting and locking you in prison. And this may sound obvious, but it’s true: you’re standing on the risers, wearing a long, black, conservative-Bible-college dress, looking out at the crowd of inmates in their khaki uniforms, and you realize they don’t look like criminals; they look like…people. Normal people you would meet in a grocery store. And you can’t help but wonder, What did he do to land him here? And you realize that you don’t need to know. Because his sin in God’s eyes is no different than yours. And his soul in God’s eyes is no less loved than yours. And then a group of prisoners–the ones involved in the college’s extension ministry, so really, your classmates–stand up and sing as part of the program. And these men belt out “Joy to the World.” And you tear up, and most of the choir tears up, and you come away from the prison receiving more blessings than you gave. (Also, and on a shallower note, I can now say I have conducted a choir in prison, so that’s exciting.)

Wednesday rolled around, and I started freaking out because platform. is. tomorrow. So I practiced, then I cried, then I practiced some more. Finally it was Thursday, and somehow, by the wonderful grace of God, and with the love and prayers of so many many people…I passed. I don’t know how, but I did. I don’t even know if I deserved to, but I did. Immediately it was as if the weight of the world was taken off of my shoulders.

My final project just needs its last revisions.

Christmas concert is OVER.

Platforms are PASSED.

Death Week and its little sibling are FINISHED.

And to top it off, a very handsome fellow escorted me to Christmas banquet last night…which somehow led to us wandering around a sketchy gas station at 10:45 PM in our banquet outfits looking for a gas can and just so happening to find a glass bottle of Cheerwine.

Yeah, we have adventures sometimes.

And tonight we get to go to Bojangle’s and listen to a Christmas concert–directed by Pepper Choplin himself!–for a change, and tomorrow the ladies at church are having a craft afternoon with us, which is always sweet, and next week we’re all going to conquer finals and then go HOME.

So thanks for all your prayers and well-wishes these past two weeks…they worked. They weren’t easy weeks (you probably picked up on that somewhere in my whininess), but they were most definitely good weeks. Because God doesn’t work when things are easy…He works most when things are hard. He works by putting us in places where we have to face our selfishness and our worry and our laziness and our pride, where we have to submit to Him and choose to be joyful when we’re not feeling it and confess our sin so we can experience His forgiveness. He works by causing us to remember Psalm 62:5…

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.

My hope is from Him. My hope isn’t in this music major or in doing well in the Christmas concert. My hope is God Himself.

So thank you, friends and family and church family and random stalkers, for the prayers and the encouragement and the well-wishes these past two weeks. And thank You, Lord, for Your grace in leading me to these weeks and getting me through these weeks.

But I’m still glad they’re over.

Freedom is nice.

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