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Getting ready for college: the beginning of my story

As an excited, enthusiastic 12-year-old, I decided I wanted to become a professional violinist. I felt I was destined to make the violin a permanent part of me. Even at that early age, each performance I gave opened my eyes to a whole new side of myself―a Grant who used his natural enthusiasm to offer something to others. The exhilaration I experienced while on stage was something I wanted to make audience members feel as well. In those early days, I can’t say my musical expression was always ‘tasteful’: after embracing a habit of moving very passionately to the music while playing, I had to learn to refocus some of that energy into the actual music! But I never let go of my dream to perform on big stages around the world, and I knew that a major step in achieving that career would be to study with a masterful teacher at a conservatory of music.

From that point on, I counted down the years I had left until I'd embark on the college stage of training. Five years, four years, three years, two years― I never stopped counting. I’ll admit: my confidence regarding the future did waver. As I studied from different teachers, had different learning experiences, and worked to achieve great but unexpected improvements in my playing, I felt like I was becoming a new person― a new artist―all the time. When the count reached ‘1 year left’, I didn’t feel like I’d traveled to that point. Through all of the constant transformations I was experiencing in myself, I felt like I’d suddenly opened up my eyes to find a new stage of musical study knocking at the door.

Before I knew it, I was preparing a final list of schools to which I’d actually apply. A combination of childhood dream-schools and new discoveries, I designed my list with priority on inspiring faculties and competitive climates. My mom and I printed off countless web pages describing audition requirements, faculty biographies, and anything else that looked useful. My dad helped me put together a binder (yep, the infamous 'college binder') to organize everything after papers began to disperse all over the house! Fortunately, I had my schools picked out early―so early that the audition requirements for one school changed (well ahead of audition season) while I was choosing my audition pieces! It was early 2015, and I had my eye on the prize: the acceptance letters I wanted to receive come April 1, 2016.

Photo by Julian Houston

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