**This was begun on December 5, 2013**
I have completed the requirements for a Master of Music: Oboe Performance at McGill University.
I feel happy, sad, exhausted, relieved, and a whole mix of other emotions that are just as polarized. I have been in school since I have been four with one semester off at 23. I am now 26. The last three years have been filled with life-changing events. I don't know what the future brings, but it is not as certain and does not include a specific goal, such as a degree with many requirements. This in-and-of-itself is scary. What is life without degree milestones? I guess I will find out.
In the last three years, I auditioned for grad schools and the Army, chose to go to BGSU for Dr. Leclair and the assistantship, met my husband, blindly followed my professor to McGill, became engaged, performed two recitals, got married, and finished my degree requirements. I ended up doing a total of 5 semesters of master's work.
Isn't this crazy? I remember how often I struggled with what I wanted and what was easier. I am glad I chose the more difficult roads. It helped so much having Justin to support me through all of it. We were only dating for a few months when I decided I wanted to stay with Dr. Leclair. It was awkward at first because I thought he would want to break up with me, and he thought I would want to break up with him. Once we figured out that we wanted to stay together, the rest was history. We have done over a year-and-a-half of a long-distance relationship and I truly believe that it helped bring us close much faster than had we continued living four blocks away. He helped me through my emotional struggles, with my sublet disaster in BG, and supported me through the happy times as well. I am so happy to have met him. I owe that largely to my oboe professors. Professor Fink suggested I study with Dr. Leclair and she convinced me to come to BGSU instead of take an Army contract.
At BGSU, I met some amazing people, but I am really happy that it led to McGill. McGill has so many phenomenal teachers and students. I was challenged in everything to be a better musician and scholar. The oboe studio is competitive in a good way. The school is top-notch in the music world and it forced me to step up to the plate. I had to grow-up in my personal and musical lives.
I learned to live in a country/province where French is the primary language (and I do not speak French). I navigated foreign paper work, set up a bank account, found places to live, rode the Greyhound to Toledo (very frightening) and Amtrak through the beautiful Adirondacks. Justin and I have driven between Rice Lake, Wisconsin and Montreal more than once. I learned how much I can travel with just a bike and my feet. In a way, I reverted back to fifteen with my transportation, and it was liberating.
I rediscovered my love for biking. From this love, I dropped fifteen pounds that I had gained between turning 21 and Ohio and learned to re-love my body through this.
In oboe, my tendonitis virtually disappeared the first semester I began studying with Dr. Leclair. She was insistent that I learn how to breathe correctly with good body use. I had been living off of massage therapy before studying with her and for the first time since my freshman year of college, I was able to claim pain-free arms. From her, I learned the importance of playing absolutely in-tune, techniques to develop phenomenal rhythm, and different stylistic nuances. We studied scores and listened to recordings. She asked me to be her personal assistant for her book, for her tenure documents, and for the Berio marathon concert. She was there for every single concert I played at McGill and always gave honest feedback so I could become a better oboist. She always had time for extra lessons during the week. She transformed my reed-making. More importantly, she transformed my mind from being negative and often punishing myself in non-constructive ways, to a practical problem solver.
The last three years come down to Dr. Leclair. I am so thankful that my life has been shaped by a strong, positive, intelligent, talented, and dedicated woman who took a chance by accepting me as a student.