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Kelsey Z.

the decision

May 1, 2007 at 3:52 AM

A letter of rejection can be like a dagger through the heart. You work so hard and put so much of what you are into your performance that to have it rejected for whatever reason, it's like having your best friend ditch you at a social outing because she/he doesn't think you're "cool" enough anymore. Or something like that. Rejection, no matter the form it comes in is not a happy place to be in. It can tear a person down and make them depressed and troubled but on the other hand, it can be fuel to work harder and try to achieve new heights and make the rejector feel shame and loss at what they've done to you. As a musician, I have had to deal with rejection a lot. The first music camp I ever auditioned at, I was rejected. The following year, I got accepted into not one, but two programs. I took my chances and picked another, harder to get into program, and was once again met with rejection. That rejection letter, that most recent one from last year really tore at me somehow. My teachers, friends and family thought I would all be accepted, although my friends and family always think I should get accepted, that's what friends and family are for, but even my teachers were encouraging that I would get in, no problem. I gave myself room to hope a little, unlike with the first rejection letter I had years prior when I hadn't allowed myself to hope or dream that it might actually happen, this time, I gave in and I hoped that my intense want to attend would be enough to get me into the impossible. Hope. Encouragement. I didn't get in. I was met with rejection. Again. I went into my room calmly to be alone, I dealt with it in my own way and the fight began to prove my worthiness. There was always that twang of doubt in the back of my mind though that I couldn't do it, that I needed to give up and make way for the younger, better players out there and get a real life for myself. I persevered.

University auditions have by far been one of the most emotionally trying things I've ever done when it comes to my music career so far. I knew over a year ago when I started thinking about where to apply that it was going to be a challenge but I had no idea. That roller coaster you can be on through a good stretch of practicing and performances that sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly drops has not only the drops but cork-screws, and loops and all of them leave you clinging to the handle bars for help and the hope that you'll make it through the ride alive. If I had to describe my university prep year this past 8 months, roller coaster, a big one with all the terrifying fixings, would be the best example I could describe. I had my highs and I had my lows and they, like a roller coaster, would sometimes change in an instant. I'd be thrown a curve ball and not have the experience or tools capable of being able to negotiate it and hit the home run.

Up until last September I would go through one, maybe two major burn out periods a year. They might last a week or two at the most and were usually the result of a combination of school, work, performance, practice and lack of sleep and ability to keep up with it all. Starting in September, I was feeling good. I was energized, back to work with a flourishing studio of students that would prove to only grow and provide me with a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment and challenge! I was taking only two courses at school for first semester to upgrade so I'd have more things on my transcript when I applied (I ended up dropping one of those because my teacher was very unreasonable) and all in all, I felt great. October rolled around, I was still feeling pretty good, but the pressure was starting to settle in a little more heavily as I realized I'd be having a very limited amount of private instruction to prepare for these auditions and I had hopes of auditioning for the Banff Centre over the Christmas holiday. I eventually decided in November after some major burn out (I felt really gross about practicing and the whole bit for over 3 weeks) that I would not audition for Banff and focus on the more important things. My mom consented and I managed to get a lesson a few days before Christmas which boost my energy and enthusiasm through the Christmas break. January rolled around and I was still feeling pretty good although I usually had about 2 days a week where I felt frustrated with my ability to advance in my playing. By February I was agonizing over the auditions and all I wanted was to be done or give up. It was incredibly hard to stay focused. I was getting sick of the repertoire, I felt I had reached a more or less stand still point in my audition repertoire. It was a gruelling month to get through and my mind was on overdrive constantly. I wasn't sleeping properly at all and mood wise I was in a perpetual state of PMS throughout. Finally March 1st rolled around and I was starting to see the home stretch. I had a lesson a few days before my first audition that gave me the boost I needed to stay focused. The day before my first audition (as most of you already know) I managed to injure my hand pretty badly. Despite the pain which I can honestly say is the most pain I've ever experienced, I played that first audition and wrote the theory and English entrance exams. I put myself into that amazing performance element and managed to block out the pain through much of my performance though I sure felt it towards the end. I made it through though. With very little physical practicing for my next audition I managed to memorise the third piece which I had stuck out of my mind while I worked on the repertoire for my first audition. I got through that audition, then came my final audition. With next to no practicing for weeks on end, my endurance levels were not what I would have wanted and with little sleep the night before I walked in and played. I didn't get nervous at first though I was severely over-tired and stressed hoping my coffee would keep me awake and focused for what I needed to do. The nerves hit when my pianist started the introduction. I felt like that roller coaster of up and down with my level of burn out to my level of enthusiasm was realising itself in my playing - starting out badly, getting better, worse, better again, worse etc. But I survived!

Rejection is what I expected. Rejection is what I had prepared for. The postal system lost one of my audition packages, it arrived late. Papers that weren't my responsibility from my school and elsewhere didn't arrive when needed. Rejection it seemed was written across my forehead (unless you asked my friends and family - that in itself put stress on these auditions to succeed). Nothing was going right. More stress. Less sleep. Harder to maintain my focus. That burn out thing was really taking over this time around.

To my surprise, but apparently not to anyone elses, I received my first letter of acceptance. I was thrilled! Last week, early in the week, a second letter of acceptance. I was feeling completely on cloud 9 and was so sure that I had my studies figured out. Surely I wouldn't get into 3 out of 3 institutions. Especially considering the competitiveness of the 3rd place. To my complete shock and surprise I got in! So I was left with the decision of three places. I was left feeling like, why couldn't just one place reject me and make my decision easier! But no. Life has a funny way of surprising us and this has been a huge surprise and incredibly overwhelming but also incredibly thrilling.And now the decision has been made. It was a hard choice but I've researched, sought advice from someone I respect a great deal in the music field and have come to a conclusion. I will be staying here on the west coast this year and be one of their new violin performance majors at the University of British Columbia. I'm so excited and I can't wait to get started.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 4:09 AM
Yeah,Kelsey! You go, girl!! I'm so very happy for you and what a great choice you've made! I hope you love UBC as much as I did (I spent 8 years there, not counting the three years prior to that I worked there as a full-time research assistant!) It's big and competitive school, but there are so many programs to choose from and so many brilliant people (prof, undergrad and grad students) to work with. Make sure you get yourself familiar with the student bodies early on and you'll settle in a lot sooner. It'll be a beautiful life ahead of you. Enjoy!
From Jennifer Leong
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 4:16 AM
Oh Kelsey, you're such a tease, titling your blog "the decision" and then spinning a long, suspenseful tale. Congratulations on your decision and on rising to all your challenges.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 4:36 AM
Congratulations, Kelsey, on getting into all three schools and on making what I'm sure is a wise decision. I'm very happy for and proud of you, and I hope your college experience will be great.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 5:12 AM
Now would everybody please spare a thought for the poor three institutes that are terrified of being rejected by Kelsey...
From Nick Lin
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 5:48 AM
Always hope for the best! Although sometimes the result might be devastating but overall it's better to be optimistic:D
From Samuel Thompson
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 7:27 AM
Dear Kelsey-

Thank you for writing and congratulations!!! Knowing rejection quite well (not needing to get into that here), you're right, one can either wallow in self-pity or use the energy to reach a new horizon.

Mind you, while I'm still reaching for that horizon, I'm still getting rejections. Go figure - invited to yet another competition, but rejected by the organization from which I applied for a grant...

It would be very interesting to really hear people talk about all of this - how to use rejection to one's advantage.



From Eugene Chan
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 7:49 AM
See you at school. :-)
From Emily Grossman
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 8:28 AM
Man, that took guts! Way to go!
From Neil Cameron
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 10:20 AM
Kelsey, sincere congratulations!


From Hope Paolotto
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 2:59 PM
Congratulations Kelsey!!
From Ray Randall
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 3:03 PM
After college I was rejected by almost every airline I applied to as a pilot. The funniest was United. They gave me three psychological tests that, as a Psych major doing graduate work, had been grading for two years. I knew all the answers. Hee hee. I received a rejection letter, that I still have framed, that said, "on the basis of our psychological exams we feel you would not be happy in an aviation career, thank you for your interest in United." Go figure. On the other hand I had a wonderful, happy, 36 year career at TWA. Besides, of all the airlines I applied with TWA was the ONLY airline that asked me if I could fly a plane.
Flying gave me the time off to pursue violin seriously with no pressures. I played in several professional orchestras so I had the best of both worlds.
Good luck to you.
From Ray Randall
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 3:12 PM
P.S., Forgot to mention. The lesson here is never ever give up. If they kick you out the front door get back in via the back or side door. Life will be full of rejections. Live with them and work all the harder towards your goal, whatever it may be at the time. Accept a rejection as a call to bear down and give it your all.
On the other hand, be realistic. If you have the talent for what you want to do then by all means push hard until you get what you want. If you do not have the talent required to succeed against superb competition then don't chase a rabbit down a hole into an "Alice in Wonderland." fantasyland.
From Ihnsouk Guim
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 3:18 PM
Conrgatulations, Kelsey!

Ray, your funny post is getting me really worried about getting on board of an airplane.


From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 3:44 PM
I was rejected by UBC when I first applied. The reason being my English wasn’t good enough for university work. I went to a local college instead trying to improve my English, and was also rejected from the English department for the same reason. So instead I signed on to an epistemology course because there were a lot of empty seats still available after the term just started. I did well in that course and learned my English through studying philosophy! The following term, I successfully transferred to UBC. They apparently figured that if I could do philosophy, my English must be good enough, so much so that I did an honors and a masters both in philosophy and then a law degree after that. The truth is, my English will never be good enough, not if one takes a critical look at it and compare me with an equally educated native speaker. Fairness is not an issue here...

What I’ve learned from rejection is:
a)One door close, another open: it’s time for new opportunities;
b)It’s time for an appeal process: someone may have made a mistake that is correctable. If the decision is not changed, at least I know the reason behind without the painful guessing.
c)It’s time to re-examine your approach to the goal and to see if you can do it differently next time. Especially if you have gone through an appeal process, you’ll learn a lot from others. Something they say you may not agree and most will be upsetting to know; yet, these are the kind of stuff help us grow.


From Natasha Marsalli
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 4:01 PM
For the record, I'm going through the same college mess thing right now, this being the end of my junior year. One of the things that keeps me going is my best freind's life motto: "Life sucks. And then you die." It sounds awfully pessimistic, but it all winds down to: bad things happen and when we die we'll be free of it all, but while we're here on earth, we have to ignore the crud and put our best foot forward in all things. Sounds like you've really learned that! Congratulations; you're an inspiration for all of the millions of us that go through the same thing!
From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 4:24 PM
Congrats to you!
From Karin Lin
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 4:39 PM
Yay! Congratulations and best of luck to you.
From Rob Schnautz
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 7:26 PM
Congratulations, Kelsey!

Sounds like you've had quite a hassle! I hope college goes well for you!

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