Written by Ali Lund. Media by Steven Potter.
As a freshman at Greenville College, there was nothing more intimidating than deciding to join the music department. I still remember when the idea of a Senior Recital scared me to death. The task seemed daunting and unappealing. I had heard horror stories of students failing their juries and having to drop their music majors after years of hard work. But I decided to take the risk. My recital seemed so far in the future that I was easily able to push it to the very back of my mind, almost forgetting about it completely. Little did I know, as I stepped into my very first voice lesson in Dr. Debra Marsch’s studio, the process of preparing for my Senior Recital had already begun.
Every semester, I added six different songs to my repertoire list. Classical songs, contemporary songs and everything in between. Each song had to be memorized and performed with polished technique. I was required to practice at least ten hours a week so that I was completely prepared to move on in my next lesson. My repertoire became harder and my voice began to grow. The change was so subtle that I barely recognized it and at times I became discouraged. However, by my junior year, I was finally ready to start preparing my repertoire for my recital.
Over the next two years I continued planning my program with the help of Dr. Marsch.
By the time I was done, my recital consisted of
sixteen songs organized into five sets. This added up to over an hour of music. Senior year was crunch time. I had already decided on the music that was going to make up my recital, but I wasn’t finished learning it all. There were songs that took me years to prepare because of their difficulty. I began putting more and more practice time into my schedule, meeting with my accompanist every week and locking myself in practice rooms every day. Any chance I got, I sang through my pieces; in between classes, early in the morning, or late at night. I spent the entire interterm of my senior year re-memorizing songs and practicing my technique. I also had to learn the translations of each song so that I could interpret the pieces as I sung them because I had to sing in French, German, and Italian . Nevertheless, by the time the semester of my recital came, I finally felt ready.
The months leading up to the recital were a blur. The day that I once dreaded as a freshman turned into the most exciting day of my time at Greenville. Then, Jury day came which was the most frightening day of the entire process. I stood before the entire music faculty as they randomly called songs from my program for me to sing from memory, and decided if they were ready to be performed. Words cannot describe the feeling of relief when I heard the news that I had passed. The rest was smooth sailing. I just needed to do final polishes, dress shopping, dress rehearsal and all the fun stuff. Before I knew it, it was my recital day! I will never forget walking out to center stage after being prayed for and introduced by my dad and looking out into the crowd of all the people who had come to support me. They cheered and I almost cried. Then, I sang and the nerves were gone. It was the most fun I had ever had singing those songs. The support and encouragement I received from my family and friends that night was overwhelming.
Now that I am on the other side of this adventure, I look back and see what a tremendous experience it was. One that I would never want to give up. I asked my good friend Carmen O’Keefe (she also just performed her Senior Guitar Recital), what her favorite part of the process was. She told me that it was the actual performance because it was the most free she had ever felt while playing her music. Especially because it was in front of the people that she loved. I would have to agree with her. There was nothing more rewarding then sharing the accomplishments of my time at Greenville with the people who have shown me love and support throughout my four years here. I couldn’t be more grateful for such an incredible experience.