• October 11Contact: [email protected]

Answer: Practice. Practice. Practice.

Question asked of all Music Performance scholaraship awardees - "What advice would you offer Freshmen who would like to be where you are today?

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“I knew we were in for a long ride when she handed me a completed application to the Sewanee Summer Music Program at the age of 13. When she got accepted I knew we were going to be poor” stated Sarah Strasinger’s mother, Susan when asked when she knew Sarah was serious about playing the bassoon. “I knew right then that when she told me she wanted to go to the University of the South to be ‘one with her instrument’  she was pretty determined to get better and was going to pursue performance in bassoon seriously, what we didn’t know is if she was going to have that determination through middle and high school.”

Sarah Strasinger04Her love of music shines as brightly as the day she first picked up the bassoon, and that light only grows stronger. Sarah Strasinger is recent Overton High school graduate from the Music Performance Academy at John Overton High School and is one of 13 students in this class of seniors who have chosen music performance or music education related as a major in college.  This class of seniors, who recently performed their Senior Capstone Recital, is the inaugural class for the brand new Academy of Event Planning and Music Performance or EMMP.

Sarah explained in her interview she studied piano under Kay Bond and Laura Boucher, but started out as a flutist. “She started out as a terrible, terrible flutist, and when she moved to bassoon, well, it sounded like mating whales in our house, so when she got into Sewanee for the summer music festival we very happy” her dad, Mike Strasinger explained. “I sort of miss the whales though.”

She is one of the 5 in this year’s group of graduates that rose to even a higher level of music scholarship as Strasinger is one of Overton’s EMMP student’s who will be receiving significant college scholarships related to musical performance as a major. Strasinger, along with Chandler Franco (Tennessee Tech Unv.) , Molly Stevens (Vanderbilt Unv.) , Jonathan Tyree (UT Martin) , and Hailey Wilhelm (Middle TN State Unv.) will be pursuing music degrees in college. Sarah added a few awards to her repertoire since starting at Overton. She was most recently the Semper Fidelis recipient at the Band Award Banquet, and it is an award she is very proud of because it among other ideas, this awards represents how much she practices.

Sarah Strasinger09

Recently, at the 2015 Overton Commencement Ceremony, as the Music Performance student of the year, Sarah carried the banner representing this academy in the procession leading the seniors in the Promenade. She is the Music Performance Academy Student of the Year. Mrs. York, the Academy Coach at Overton had this to say about Sarah. “As the Music Performance Ambassador, Sarah has been responsible for tons of tours the year. She has had to know the specifics of what parents want to know about the music program. Sarah was voted the Music Academy student of the year by the faculty for many reasons, but it was primarily because of the way Sarah always represents the school and is willing to help out with any event.”

**Video is excerpt of  the complete performance of  “The Planets” by Gustav Holst under the direction of Jo Ann Faletta; Sarah choose this work to showcase because because it was her first time to play a full non-arranged, symphonic work.

The Bobcat Beat interviewed her recently as a Capstone completer and Ambassador of the Year.

BB: You’ve had many offers for scholarships, have you decided where you are going to go in the fall?

SS: Yes, I am going to Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland Ohio.

BB: Why did you choose Baldwin Wallace over other colleges?

SS: I felt that I would get more experience with a world class orchestra there than any other college. The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra is well, one of the best in the US. The bassoon professor, Jonathon Sherwin is a member of that orchestra, and I would be studying with him,

I also know one of the  conductors at BW, Octavio Mas~Arocas, so I would have more connections with them.


BB: How much is the scholarship covering and for how years?

SS: It is covering 95%. It is for all four years. I have housing to pay for.

BB: Did you have to audition to be accepted at this school? Can you describe the audition process?

SS: I had to audition at all the schools I applied to but I also had to get accepted into the regular school first. Like, I just couldn’t go to the music school without first getting into the school. I was really nervous about some the schools, because getting into the schools like Baldwin Wallace, Butler and Depauw are pretty competitive.

But the process is the same pretty much at every school. I first went to a little welcome where the band director or the orchestra director talks to the people auditioning. At one school, I just walked into the audition – I didn’t like that much.

But, once you listen to the instructions, you go to a piano placement, and music theory test. I warmed up for a little bit, and then I went into my audition. A couple of schools provided practice rooms to warm up, some provided a room.

In the room is usually 2-4 people including the bassoon instructor that you play your prepared pieces for  few minutes, and then all of them asked me questions about myself. I had some time to kill before my theory test so I just hung around and walked around the building. Then I went to my theory test where they asked some questions to figure out which theory class to put you in. Then the same thing with piano. And that was it!

Practice, practice, more practice. And when it gets hard, practice harder. Oh yea, read everything on the applications too”

— Sarah Strasinger

BB: What emotions run through you before, during, and after the audition?

SS: I felt excitement and nervousness through out the all thing. At BW, they talked to the whole group about how to not be nervous which really helped, but I tend to block out my emotions after the auditions, so I don’t think about it after.

BB: What was the competition – like in terms of the number of people you were up against, their skill level, etc?

SS: At every school it was different. First, you have to schedule the auditions, and it is kind of a nightmare because all of the schools schedule the auditions on the same weekend, so you might actually see the same people at one school, and then see them at another school.

When I was at DPU and BW, there were maybe 6 – 7 bassoons, but at Memphis I was scheduled in a way where I did not see anyone else, which was strange. I’m not really sure what they were like skill wise because I don’t like to freak myself out by listening to the competition. But they were all very nice.

Sarah Strasinger08BB: Do you have any tips for underclassman who are want to pursue scholarships like these?

SS: Practice, practice, more practice. And when it gets hard, practice harder. Oh yea, read everything on the applications too.

BB: How much time did you put into preparing for the audition?

SS: I have been preparing my pieces since about winter of my junior year. I seriously have been working on them over a year and half. But, applying to college, even if you are not auditioning is time consuming.

BB: What degree are you pursuing, if you’ve decided on one?

SS: I am going to be majoring in music performance with a primary in bassoon and minoring  in arts management or maybe I will double degree.

BB: What do you hope to do in the future?

SS: My goal is to one day teach at a university.

Sarah Strasinger07

BB: Where do you see yourself in a year or two?

SS: Practicing in a room somewhere in college.

BB: Are there any people who  you  have inspired?

SS: Not anyone I know of,  but I would like to think so.

BB: Who are the people who inspired and motivated you to pursue music?

SS: My bassoon instructor Hunter Thomas,  and my orchestra director Mrs. Miller. They have given me so much. All my music teachers though push me to get better. I have had wow so many that I love! Paul Waters, Kay Bond, Matt Davich, Pat Gunter, Ms. Boucher, Ms, Burton, Mr. Easley, and Peter Kolkay have all been an inspiration, too.

Sarah Strasinger02

Other awards Sarah has earned are Thor Johnson Scholarship, performances with the NAFME National Honors Orchestra this past year; 3 times Mid-State Band; Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and acceptance with scholarships to Memphis University, Depauw University, Tennessee Tech University, Butler University. She will be accepting her full scholarship to the Music Conservatory at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio.

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