Oh, Say Can You See?

I don’t think anything has had quite an impact on my college experience as music. I’ve been singing pretty much from the moment that I learned how to talk, and it’s led me to some pretty incredible places and opportunities. When I was younger, I mainly just sang for fun. I entertained my parents on long car rides with every song from every Disney movie, and in middle school my friends and I hit up the local karaoke cafe nearly every other weekend to belt out the latest Carrie Underwood hit. But as I’ve grown up and matured, so have my venues and music styles.

I first started singing the national anthem in high school to open up the home football and basketball games. My performances eventually caught the attention of LMU’s athletics director, Roger Vannoy. During my sophomore year of high school, he asked me how I’d like to sing at a Railsplitter basketball game. I, of course, said yes! I remember feeling so nervous the very first time I sang there. Tex Turner Arena was enormous, and there were quite a bit more people in attendance than there ever were at home. But I gave it my very best, and it must have been pretty good because Roger invited me back many times while I was still in high school. The game announcer even began introducing me as “a future Railsplitter” after I was accepted to LMU! Now that I am officially in school here, I get even more chances to sing at sporting events throughout the year. I even got to sing for last year’s nationally televised “Pack the House” game against Anderson University (see the video below). The national anthem wasn’t actually included in the television broadcast, but the 3600 people in attendance in Tex Turner were the largest crowd of people I’ve sung in front of to date!

Singing the national anthem opened up the door to a world of other opportunities to pursue music in college. Before the first week of classes had even gotten underway my freshman year, I was already being recruited by LMU’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry to be its new praise and worship leader. I accepted this task and immediately set to work putting together songs for the Thursday night Connect services. As time went on, the role expanded from a one-woman show to an entire band, and now we hold weekly rehearsals to work together on a set list and practice our songs. I’ve been very lucky to be able to hold this position every semester so far, and I hope I can continue to sing and play for the BCM until the very end.

During my freshman year, I was also a member of the University Concert Choir. I had to audition privately for the choir director in order to determine which section I would sing in, and then it was time to start rehearsing! We had practice twice a week, every week leading up to our concert at the end of the semester. For the fall semester concert, we did a collection of Christmas songs, and our spring concert consisted of a Latin hymn and a song in Italian. I’d never sung in a different language before, so it was really exciting learning how to pronounce the words. I haven’t been able to participate in choir the last two years because of class scheduling conflicts, but hopefully I can jump back into it soon!

I’m not actually in this video because I couldn’t participate that semester, but here’s a little sample of the University Concert Choir!

My involvement with sports events and student music groups has caused a lot of people to recognize me recently around campus. I mostly get stopped by other students, but some of the most surprising “Hey, I know that girl!” moments have actually come from faculty and staff at LMU. Some of them even lead to some pretty high-profile appearances to promote the University. Cindy Whitt, the Vice President for University Advancement, recently asked me to fill in for her at the 128th National Congress of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), which was held in the University’s dining hall. MOLLUS is a patriotic order that was established shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s death. Its original members were Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers who had worked hard during the Civil War to preserve the Union, and all of the current members are descendants of the original legion. During this year’s meeting, the group awarded a few of its members for their lifetime of service and appointed a new commander-in-chief, and I sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to start off the ceremony. MOLLUS was by far the fanciest event I’ve ever been invited to. The attire for the evening was black tie, and the LMU dining hall staff personally waited on us and served a steak dinner with an enormous chocolate cake.

Just last week I was invited to participate in something truly unique–the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum‘s presentation of “Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Music of Gettysburg.” The ALLM had invited famed Lincoln actor Dennis Boggs and some local musicians, including myself, to recreate the day that the Gettysburg National Cemetery was dedicated. Boggs started out by reminiscing about his travels to Gettysburg the day before, then the show got underway with performances of funeral songs as well as actual prayers that were said. Boggs even gave Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, and museum director Thomas Mackie, playing Edward Everett, delivered a shortened version of Everett’s two-hour oration. I, again, sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as well as two songs from the 1800s. One song was so old that the tune hadn’t been recovered along with the words, so I got to use a little extra creativity and write my own melody for it. But the best part by far was getting to wear a 19th-century dress. I had to wear a hoop skirt underneath for the poofy, flowing effect, and watching me practice walking around in it must have been entertaining! I really enjoyed playing a part in a Lincoln reenactment, and I’m looking forward to joining the famous president again next month in “Christmas with the Lincolns.”

Getting involved in music has been one of the most exciting parts of my college experience so far. I’ve become sort of the “go-to” girl for events at LMU, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each new opportunity that has come my way. I look forward with each and every appearance to representing this incredible institution with Railsplitter pride!

Want to know more about how college can help you grow as a musician? Feel free to ask me any questions by dropping a comment below or by emailing me, and be sure to follow my blog to stay up to date with each new post. Also, if you’re interested in majoring in music, LMU’s favorite band geek LMU Chase has some great insight for you!

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