This semester I decided to compete in the Concerto Competition, which gives one winning student the opportunity to be featured in the Connecticut College Orchestra Spring Concert performing a concerto or vocal piece every year. My clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, and I had made a somewhat spur-of-the-moment decision in late January that I should enter it this year, so I could experience competing in it.
The night before the competition, just after I finished rehearsing with my accompanist in Cummings Arts Center, I ran into Professor Dale Wilson of the music department. We discussed my preparations for the next day, and then Professor Wilson invited me to a dinner to discuss study away options with Fiete Felsch, a German jazz musician who was visiting campus. I like having good conversations with my professors and the guests they bring to campus, and I also like the Music Department’s sandwiches, so I decided to go.
I speak German, and I’ve always planned to study abroad in a German or Scandinavian nation in my junior year. Getting to talk with Felsch gave me the opportunity to learn about how to study music in a foreign country. Felsch first came to the United States to study jazz in Detroit as a high school student and went on to attend the University of North Texas, so his talk gave me an idea of how to adapt as a musician entering a different culture. Because I’m interested in continuing to study clarinet when I’m abroad, I asked him about differences in bore and fingerings between German and American clarinets. One of the programs I’d been looking at in Vienna contained a note saying that students taking clarinet lessons would do so with American instructors because of differences in the instruments. Felsch said most German teachers would take on American students because the differences are not extreme enough to interfere with teaching.
I believe that study away is an important part of the college experience, and that every student should have the opportunity to do so; I’m glad to go to a school where about half of students in each class study away. The robust study away program at Conn was an important part of my decision to come here. Preparing to study away takes a bit of housekeeping though; I need to complete many of my philosophy major and Ammerman Center requirements by the end of this fall so that I can go abroad in spring 2018. On the social side of things, this spring semester has been bittersweet for me because I realized that I’ll be able to count the days until graduation by the time my next spring at Conn rolls around. Competing in the concerto competition is part of my pre-study away plan; because it always occurs in the spring I won’t have another chance to compete until senior year when I’m hoping to win!