Hayes High School held a signing event and panel discussion for three musical senior students who committed to colleges May 7.
At the signing event, Bella Bosco announced her commitment to Western Connecticut State University, where she’ll study musical theater; Adryán Rojas announced his commitment to the Manhattan School of Music, where he’ll study violin performance; and Fredericka Shanks announced her commitment to Bowling Green State University, where she’ll study music education.
The three seniors spoke to other music students at Hayes and discussed their auditions and selection processes.
Bosco said she auditioned at 15 different schools and has been preparing since last summer. She decided on Western Connecticut a few weeks ago.
“You get a vibe at every audition, just how it works and how the people respond there and how the students are,” Bosco said. “From the second I set foot in their brand new visual performing arts center I knew it felt different, and it just felt so welcoming.”
Bosco added the program accepts only 16 students in its freshman class and recommended that students auditioning for schools or programs start early.
“I had to go through rounds of prescreens, so I had to send a bunch of things in digitally beforehand and then I was accepted into in-person auditions,” Bosco said. “So make sure you have everything in ahead of time and early to make sure you are guaranteed a spot. Really research all the programs. There are so many different opportunities out there, and you really have to be your own advocate. It’s your dream, so take charge.”
Bosco said leaving Hayes is “bittersweet,” but she’s excited to be able to take more theater classes and take part in shows. She also gave thanks to her parents for taking care of getting her to auditions and for all of her music teachers.
Rojas said applying for violin programs is very competitive, and every audition required him to send in prescreening videos ahead of time. He applied to 12 schools and was invited to audition at 10 of them.
“(Some had interviews but most of) the auditions were extremely impersonal,” Rojas said. “They’d said, you can come in, they’d ask me to play my pieces, and they’d say ‘thank you, next.’”
Rojas said he’s excited to study at the Manhattan School of Music, because he’ll be so connected to music.
He added the school is the number three music program in the country, and only about half of the students at the school are from the United States. He said he was excited to meet and play with a variety and diversity of people.
“There’s going to be over 600 performances during the school year,” Rojas said. “I’m going to be right next to Carnegie Hall. I’ll be able to hear the New York Philharmonic play. One of the reasons I wanted to be in New York so bad is because the music scene there is huge. All those connections I can make there I wouldn’t be able to make anywhere else.”
Rojas said he appreciated the help of Stacy Lemke, the orchestra director at Hayes, and his violin instructor, James McCullough.
Shanks, a cellist, said Bowling Green was the first school she visited, and she fell in love with its staff and teaching program.
“It really felt as if the staff really cared about our success,” Shanks said. “(I loved) the people there, the community, the energy of how it felt while I was there.”
Shanks added that after her audition, she had a private lesson with one of her future professors.
“I really enjoyed that,” she said. “He helped me play 10 times better immediately, so I was like, ‘This is definitely where I want to go.’”
Shanks told students that they should prepare and “make sure you’re good” before the auditions.
“Don’t procrastinate with your pieces,” Shanks said. “Don’t only focus on the audition piece. Do your scales and techniques, and make sure you are getting good tone. Make sure you are playing to your best ability, not just playing the piece. Stay calm. Think, ‘these people are mostly going to be my teachers,’ and ‘it’s not as scary as it seems.’”
Shanks said she is looking forward to graduating and attending college, and she was thankful for her sister’s help throughout the process.
“I’m excited for that next big step,” Shanks said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
The students said they were thankful that the school held a signing day event in their honor.
“It was adorable,” Shanks said. “I went to a lot of signings with my friends and always thought, ‘Dang, I wish I could do that.”
Bosco thanked the school’s music boosters for setting it up, and said it’s been a personal goal of hers.
“I was so happy,” she said. “I’ve wanted to do that since sophomore year, because so many kids go into music. I really like that we did a Q&A, because there were a bunch of younger kids in the audience. I know some of them are going into the theater and music, so it was good for them to hear different experiences.”
Rojas said the music program at Hayes is one of the best in the state, and he is glad it received some recognition.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.