• Elissa May Murphy

Why I Chose Music School (again...)



Much to my surprise, my most viewed blog post has been all about my Eastman bucket list. If you haven't gotten a chance yet, please check that post out before reading this one!


While hopping around from long-term subbing gig to long-term subbing gig, I had simultaneously been applying to several institutions in pursuit of a masters degree (and - duh - a full-time job).


What programs did I apply to?

Where did I apply?

When did I begin this process?

Why did I go through such a hefty application process?

How did I ultimately decide to go back to music school over journalism acceptances?


Programs I Applied For:




1. Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY) - Arts Journalism

2. Harvard University's School of Continuing Education (Online / Cambridge, MA) - Journalism with focus on the Arts

3. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) - Arts Journalism

4. Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) - Music Education with State Certification


When This Process Began:


In seeking to begin a program circa Fall 2019, I actually began my research while I was a temporary admissions assistant at the school I substitute teach at (January 2018). I know, it sounds absolutely crazy that I looked this far ahead, but it's true and I'm so glad that I did! Several months earlier, I was getting out of the hospital with my new type one diabetic diagnosis and I wanted to make sure I gave myself plenty of time to mentally prep before just jumping into a program blindsided.


The Application Process:


Was incredibly rigorous. In May 2018, I had begun studying for the GRE exams (I will be getting none of that studying time back and I wholeheartedly regret stressing over this test). I ended up taking the exam in January 2019. Only Eastman and USC needed these exam scores. If there's any way you can get out of not taking it, I highly recommend.


Eastman's applications were due December 1 with an option for early decision due November 1. Around the early decision deadline, I had second-guessed myself once again and held off on submitting my application until literally the night before it was due...


The reason for this was because I was incredibly torn on whether or not to apply as an MM student or an MA student. An MM student meant I would have had to become part of the flute studio at Eastman (twist my arm). Even though I still practice on a regular basis, I chickened out with going through the audition process as an MM student and decided to apply for the MA program. This translates to Master of Arts which is very research-heavy. In hindsight, I'm glad I took this approach on account of already having a reputation as a woodwind doubler in the greater Rochester area. I know how to play. I already have a bachelors degree in flute performance. I don't need another degree to let the world know that I know how to play the flute. Though it coulda/shoulda/woulda been nice to pursue a DMA as opposed to a PhD (I'm going to need a new eyeglass script after all this reading).


The Outcome:


February 2019:


Acceptance from Syracuse University with a Graduate Assistant position teaching an undergraduate COMM course, plus scholarship.


Program duration: 11 months

Cost after scholarships & stipend: $34,000


March 2019:


Acceptance from the Eastman School of Music with scholarship plus


Program duration: 24+ months (depending on student teaching semester)

Cost after scholarships & stipend: $--,--- (in between the cheapest & most expensive program)


April 12, 2019 - 1:00pm:


Locked in initial deposit to claim position at the Eastman School of Music


April 12, 2019 - 4:00pm:


Acceptance to enroll in first two of twelve courses through Harvard's School of Continuing Education (must score a B or higher in order to gain official acceptance into the HES Journalism program).


Program duration: up to five full years to complete everything online with the exception of one mandatory course on campus (could be during a winterim or summer session)

Cost of attendance: $34,000


May 2019:


Respectful letter of decline from USC's Arts Journalism School after weeks of nagging them for my rejection letter.

Program duration: 10 months

Cost of attendance that I thankfully dodged: $84,000


Why I Opt'd For Music School Round Two:


Numerous reasons: Rochester. Maintaining this freelance lifestyle with a tad more financial stability by becoming a full-time educator over a freelance substitute, finally coming to terms with the fact that I like teaching (there, I said it), being close-ish to my family if I want or need to go home, etc., plus jobs in arts writing in Rochester are few & far between, and maybe pay... and that's just not okay... If I were to go to school for Journalism, my hours would be wonky, I'd have no backup plan to be a full-time music educator because I wouldn't be NYS certified, and what was meant to happen, simply, happened.


How I'm Adjusting To Life As A Student (again):



Although I thoroughly miss being at the school I've been subbing at for the last two+ years, I really enjoy my classes and my classmates. It's a pretty equal mix of me being an open book in carrying conversation during class discussion and the polar opposite where I still sense a hesitation when giving the answers to questions. I'm the kind of student that thinks of the correct answer, then I whisper it to myself, then the teacher looks at me to ask what the heck I've whispered, then I say it out loud, then it's correct and then I take a deep breath because I'm internally hyperventilating. I'll get to fixing that. It's from all the trauma I experienced in classes during undergrad. It's fine. I'm fine.


This, along with continuing to substitute teach, perform, and teach private lessons has allowed for me to really enjoy my quality of life. I'm so blessed to be where I am and look forward to what's ahead (before pursuing my doctorate - of course).


xx

© 2019 by EMM | Rochester, New York 14607