The College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University

When looking for a university to attend for graduate school, many questions, concerns, and even fears may come to mind. It is hard to know exactly what to expect by looking at websites and handbooks. Recently, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. I can honestly say that my experience at BGSU was very enjoyable and prepared me for the career that I wish to pursue in music. I would like to share my first-hand experience with you as you seek a graduate program.

From the beginning, BGSU was quick to respond to my inquiries and very helpful in setting up an audition time slot. I auditioned in the Spring 2003, and I was notified immediately of my acceptance. All of the criteria for the audition is explained in a mailing. It is different for each instrument. For voice, I believe I had to have a couple art songs in each main language (French, German, Italian and English) an opera aria, and an oratorio piece. A panel of vocal teachers observed my audition, and they were very warm and friendly. Honestly, it was not as intimidating as I thought it could be.

I decided to wait a year to attend graduate school after I learned of my acceptance because I felt I needed a break after my intense undergraduate program. In spring of 2004, I contacted BGSU again. I was relieved to learn that I did not need to re-audition; I had taught school for a year and was not thoroughly prepared for another audition. My correspondance with BGSU over the next few months was very adequate as I made arrangements to attend in the fall. The chair of the vocal department was able to offer me a graduate assistantship which was a huge financial blessing. The assistantship required that I teach music at a private school for 10 hours a week. In return, I my tuition fees were waived, and I received a stipend of about $400 every month.

The week before graduate school we were required to take classes in a program called GradStep. This program is intended to help incoming graduate students with their responsibilities of being a graduate assistant. I found the program very beneficial, and it was a great opportunity to meet other students as well. Also during the week, we were required to take the dreaded entrance exams into the music department. These were feared by most of the students. The exams were difficult, but BGSU had supplied study sheets for the students ahead of time. There were 2 tests covering music history and music theory. Because of the results of my exam scores, I was required to take some make-up classes. I know that is not comforting information, but the classes were very informational and helpful in my course of study. Also, during the first couple weeks, you are able to meet with an advisor to plan your schedule. The advisor will let you know what exactly you are required to take and some optional electives that will benefit your concentration.

The journey of the next 2 years at BGSU through graduate school was very rewarding. I found my instructors to be professional, intellectual, and sincere. Each class was very beneficial to me and added to the complete experience of my Master’s program. In particular, my applied vocal teacher performed in Germany for 20 years and had taught at the university for over 10 years. His experience proved very valuable in my training. If he did not know an answer to a question, he would find it somewhere for me. I respected his position and ability and trusted his guidance and instruction.

Since my concentration was in vocal performance I was very interested in performing. I was very pleased with the opportunites that were given to students to perform in a public setting. I was able to perform 4 leading roles in the operas The Marriage of Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, The Magic Flute, and Little Red Riding Hood. Also, I participated in master classes with Marilyn Horne and Thomas Pasatieri, sang in seminars and concerts, and traveled with the Opera for Youth class. I believe I became a more confident performer as a result of the opportunities given.

In order to earn a Master’s degree, you must give a recital and take an oral examination or write a thesis and be able to defend it. I chose the first option. My private vocal instructor thoroughly prepared me for the recital. When the time came to perform, I was confident and excited about the recital. The oral examinations are feared by ALL graduate students. However, before the big day comes, you are given the list of questions that you will be asked. So, you have ample time to prepare for the exam. I began lightly studying a couple months ahead of time, and then, spent quite a bit of time the final 2 weeks before orals. My studying proved to be adaquate, and I passed my first time. My panel of judges provided a relaxed setting which put me immmediately at ease. I remember feeling like I was going to be sick as I walked into the room. One of my panel members gave me a mint and that little action provided so much comfort.

After the recital and oral examination, I was ready for graduation. The crowning moment of my experience at BGSU was when I was asked to sing the alma mater and national anthem at the graduation ceremony. The journey through graduate school had been truly rewarding. I left feeling prepared to face the challenges before me in my career of performance.

America’s Got Talent 6 Audition for Darren Taylor (Professor Splash)

America’s Got Talent aired ts 2011 Houston auditions on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. Darren Taylor (also known as Professor Splash) was featured prominently and advanced to the Las Vegas round of the auditions.

This act appears to be pretty dangerous. It surely at least requires extensive training to avoid injury. It’s not totally unique, as I’ve seen this act years back on “That’s Incredible” or some show like that. Nonetheless, it is comparatively unique when considering what we usually see on America’s Got Talent.

Basically, Professor Splash jumps from a certain height into a kid’s 12-inch wading pool. He did it from 26 feet for the Houston auditions. One of the reasons I think AGT does have mass appeal is because of acts such as this. You just can’t expect to see this act anywhere else on television.

However, only certain kinds of acts generally stand much of a chance of winning. Darren Taylor’s act is literally a few seconds. That does not really make for a show and is more like something you would expect as part of a bigger show or some kind of exhibition at a special event.

For that reason, I do not expect Professor Splash to be winning the 6th season of America’s Got Talent. It will just be the same exact thing every single round and only for a few seconds.

Resources:

AGT 6 Results and Recaps

NBC.com America’s Got Talent Website

Star Simpson, College Student, Arrested with Fake Bomb at Boston Airport

In what she probably thought would either be a funny joke, an interesting political statement, or an art project, a college student at MIT in Boston went to Logan airport to meet someone arriving and got herself in a little trouble. She decided to dress for the part, that’s for sure – she apparently showed up with something that looked like a “device” on the outside of her shirt, and some play-doh in her hand. She told officers that she was displaying “art.” And that it was part of a course.

When the police showed the sweatshirt Simpson was wearing it didn’t look anything like a bomb. It was a 9 volt battery plugged into a fake circuit board pasted on the back, with the words “socket to me” and “Course VI.” The circuit board didn’t even look real, but you can imagine some being very concerned. Alot of people at airports are often on edge anyway.

I was in the airline business for a few years, and have seen quite a few different outfits show up. I worked at LAX, LAS, and other high volume airports. Still, I don’t remember anyone wearing a fake bomb. Thins is the same city that went on full freak-out mode over those glorified lite-brites that were being put out to advertise the movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Not exactly the city to pull a security prank in, especially at the airport. The same airport that some of the 9/11 hijackers boarded aircraft at. You can imagine they don’t want to drop the ball like that again, so they just might be a little on edge.

In typical bravado cop-speak, a spokesman for the police said that Star Simpson was “lucky she was in jail, and not the morgue.” Well, possibly, as trigger-happy cops aren’t something we have never heard about before. The story is of personal interest to me for a couple of reasons. First, having spent so much time in airports I find them fascinating. Second, I had a somewhat similar event happen to me.

Mine wasn’t at an airport, it was on a busy street in Virginia Beach, Va. The big four-lane street that goes along the hotel strip and boardwalk areas of the beach. It was in the 80s, so forgive me if I can’t remember the street (Atlantic Ave comes to mind, but that might just be coming from Monopoly memory). I was in the Navy. And mind you, these were the days when the military wasn’t looked upon in the same heroic warrior-cult fashion as it is today. Some people loved to give us a hard time.

It was a hot summer day, and people were using water guns and balloons all over the place. There were four of us in a jeep with the top down, and we were getting soaked. So we stopped at a store to get some ability to retaliate. I found a squirt gun that looked like a mini M-16. We started back out on the road with me holding on to the roll bar and squirting at others in the fashion of the old “rat patrol” television series. In the slow traffic we only made it about three blocks. A van came from the other way, squealing to a stop across the two lanes on the other side of the road. An officer opened the door and leveled a shotgun at me through the window. Four or five others came running up from behind, guns drawn. It was all pretty comical, except for the part where they said they almost shot me.

One of the officers said “let’s have the gun.” As I picked it up and brought it over my head to give them, I pulled a little hard on the trigger. I didn’t mean to, but the “gun” fired. It squirted water, but it also had a “rat-tat-tat” kind of sound effect. I still remember the face of the officer as he stepped back and damn near fired at me.

In the end, they arrested me (in far more humiliating fashion then was needed, face down in the middle of the road, but hey, I suppose I asked for it) I spent about two hours in jail until the Navy Shore Patrol came and got me. They took me back to my ship and released me to my command. The officer on duty thought it was hilarious and nothing else came of it.

The moral of both of these stories is no matter how funny or artful a particular act might be, it might be best not to pull it off when there are some who might not take it as a joke that also are quite heavily armed. To the public, I say don’t be too hard on Star Simpson. And to Star Simpson, I say that yes, you are lucky. What were you thinking, girl?