Greetings readers. Apologies for my lateness! I am now settled in Bloomington and have begun Week 3 as a Hoosier! This last month has been full of interesting experiences, many of which I can share with you. Hopefully some of it is of interest.

Entrance Exams

          Before starting school and during my orientation week at IU, entrance exams took up most of my time. (**Warning:  My experience may be specific to IU. These exams and studying suggestions may not be relevant for different testing mediums.) At IU (Jacobs School), I had four entrance exams to take:  Music History, Sight-Singing, Aural Music Theory, and Written Music Theory. I did very in all of these courses in undergrad, I studied a lot for the exams, and I STILL found them very difficult. My advice is not to underestimate these exams. They will probably exceed the difficulty level of any test in undergrad and will (hopefully) only test you on things that will be useful to you in the future (ex. critical music analysis questions rather than a memorized list of dates). If you don’t pass, you often have to enroll in review courses which cost you more money and time. So it literally pays to do well on them.

          I passed 3 of the 4 (not sight-singing), but I have another opportunity to take the sight-singing test before having to take a review course. To prepare, I have created a daily practice regimen to improve, as well as target specific facets of the Piano Proficiency Exam that I need to take.

          I can’t go into too much detail here, but be looking for a new post on Defiance Duo’s website. In it, I’ll go into detail about studying techniques and other graduate school preparations.

School Experience

          After the extensive entrance exams, my normal class schedule commenced. I have courses in electronic music, post-tonal theory, and even choir! I was led to believe there were not too many percussion spots available in the bands, so I prepared a folk song for a choir audition. I was placed in IU’s University Singers, and we’re singing Billings, Ives, and Carter (among others)!

          However, do not fear. I asked if I could still use the percussion rooms to practice, and because of policy issues, I enrolled in Graduate Elective Lessons and now have access!


          By request of Kia Frank, I began reading a book called The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. It was a bit out of the norm for me (not a thriller with political intrigue or detective work), but it had a few twists and moral dilemmas that still have me thinking, even though I’ve already finished the book! Thanks Kia!

          Also, Philip Brown and I are happy, because the preliminary manuscript of our first book, Montem, is complete! Enter the editing process! Check back for updates.


          In the climbing world, I continue to grow stronger and am now working hard to master V3 problems. Wait for my next post for information on my new diet and training techniques.

          Also, in case you missed it, sport climbing will be in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo! Progress!