A blog was the last thing I thought I would start. I don’t fancy myself much of a writer and have never been an avid reader because of my right eye that likes to lazily wander after about 10 sustained minutes of looking at something. But here I am, nearing the end of my time here at JMU starting a blog and readying myself for the new and exciting things in life.
Tomorrow , Thursday April 27th, 2017 will be the last time I step foot in a class at JMU. 5 years since being that nervous excited 17 year old freshman who knew a whole bunch and who also didnt know anything. 5 years later I can definitively say I am a changed human being after my time at Madison. Starting as a nursing major, then music education major and finally settling on a degree in vocal performance was quite the journey. I thought I started too late as a classical singer, as I really never took private lessons until I started with the best (and to be fair only) teacher I’ve ever had, school dad Kevin McMillan. Now I don’t say school dad lightly. In our family, a highly matriarchal family with fewer men and fewer strong men than strong women in the family, it takes alot for me to become very close and trust a male authority figure who then becomes someone so close to me as KMAC as he is affectionately known, has become. I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in music without him, and frankly, I might not even be in school if it weren’t for him.
There’s a little thing called burn out and exhaustion. Sounds pretty bad or dire right? Well I’m pretty sure I “functioned” for the first 4 years of my undergrad morning noon and night in a state of exhaustion everyday. University Women’s Chorus, TCC, Chorale, Madison Singers and eventually section leader of said ensemble, my first musical at JMU (spelling bee forever), 19-22 credits each semester, music directing theater shows, opera galas, opera ensemble and finally my first role with JMU opera theater as Lady Ella with my dear friend Elizabeth, opera guild exec, trying to sleep and eat and talk and breathe, choral director of St Stephens and a little thing called JMU Note-Oriety that I started leading at only 18 years old. All of that came second to my vocal studies which culminated with winning second place at the NATS national competition in Chicago 2016 with my Mother Desire McCray accompanying me on the 16 hour bus ride there and back and mouthing YOU SHOULD HAVE WON FIRST for all to see when it was announced.
But NATS was a pivotal time for me in my development not only as a singer but a young girl having courage to try to do what she loves. Ever since I’ve been so excited for my soprano journey. This 5th year at JMU has been so enriching for my soul. I was a part time student, I wasnt in ANY of the things I had done the last 8 semesters. I was just being Zoe, which I almost didnt know how to do, I had never had a semester where I was getting home when the sun was still out before this year. I had never taken a class at Urec until this year because my evenings weren’t booked in either the music building or forbes until anywhere from 730-11 every night. I have had so much more time to focus on my relationship with God and being reminded by his undying love for me has been one of the best gifts of this 5th year.
Tomorrow is my last day of class. Next Thursday is my last final of my undergraduate time here. Friday and Saturday of next week is graduation for the Class of 2017. Though I still identify deeply with the class of 2016, I was ready to join the class of 2017. It wasn’t to be. There is one single requirement keeping me from finishing officially, walking at graduation and receiving my Bachelors and that is (drum roll please) piano. PIANO. AKS, I’m coming for you and I will come out on top. With the support of my family, professor McMillan and the JMU School of Music, I will be studying piano and voice through George Mason University which I am SO excited for. Private piano lessons will be what will get me across the finish line at NEXT year;s graduation. On paper, I will be finishing my undergraduate studies 6 years after starting as there is a pride thing there that MADE me feel embarrassed by that fact. I now see that’s the way God intended for me to do it all. I am learning everyday the importance of Patience acceptance and forgiveness through this process. I am also earning that your self worth has jack shit to do with your credentials on paper. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive family who are behind me a hundred percent and will be throwing me the biggest “you’ve been done being a student for a year but now youre officially a graduate” grad party spring 2018.
So thats it. May 5th 2017 I’ll be singing the National Anthem at the JMU Honors College medallion ceremony. May 6th 2017 will be spent cheering my friends on that are walking in graduation and taking in the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley for one more day. May 7th marks my last Sundae at St Stephens as their Choral director and my very first day at my big girl job at Opal Music Studio in Old Towne Alexandria VA, 10 minutes from my house. Thinking since this is the year if acceptance and trying new things I’ll get on a bike for the first time since middle school and might even start riding my bike to work. June- July 2017 will be spent making beautiful music at the COSI summer opera program in Sulmona, Italy. August will be spent getting back to my job at Opal, starting my voice lessons with the AMAZING Patricia Miller who I cant even begin to explain her majesticness( is that a word? idk its my damn blog right) and continuing my piano lessons. September will also start my time as a substitute for FCPS schools, ideally as a choir (or theater) sub!!! FCPS teachers: hit me UP! I’ll be working at Opal Sundays and Mondays and will have my private piano and voice lessons Thursdays and Saturdays. Tuesdays Wednesdays and Fridays will be my sub days which I am also excited for.
I’ve got a plan for the upcoming year that involves some really fun stuff like a few more recitals, a few voice competitions I’ll be submitting for and a fun project I hope to finish with the Blue Sprocket recording studio in Harrisonburg. I’ll be milling around the DC area doing a whole bunch of fun stuff. Harrisonburg peeps: I will be traveling to the burg a few times for my piano tests and working with Blue Sprocket but in general I will no longer be a resident of JMU. JMU Graduating class of 2018: hello, I’m Zoe. I’m now one of you and I cannot wait 🙂 Here’s to the 2017 2018 school year as a JMU/GMU Duke Dog Patriot