2004 graduate, Rachel Smith
Life After GDYO, with Rachel Smith
Q&A with Rachel
1. What is your GDYO story?
I auditioned and was accepted my junior year of high school and continued to play through my senior year (2002-2004). I’m actually from Tyler – about two hours east of Dallas. There was a cellist from Tyler, too, (Meredith McCook–her Spotlight is coming!) so we often car-pooled. That way at least one set of parents could have a free Sunday! One of my most vivid memories is of playing Mahler 4 in the Meyerson. I think that performance actually helped solidify for me that I wanted to be a musician. I also still have really wonderful memories of going on tour to Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic the summer after senior year. I missed my graduation ceremony, but it was completely worth it!
2. Do you still play? Tell us about that.
Yes, I do! I decided to pursue music performance in college, and then continued on to graduate school, so now my days are filled with teaching and performing. About two years ago I moved back to Dallas, and now I get to perform regularly with old friends from GDYO who are also in the area. It really is true that the friends you make at rehearsal can last a lifetime!
3. What have you been up to since leaving GDYO?
I ended up in Houston for grad school and stayed there for a few years after I finished. I’m thrilled to be in Dallas now – I’ve always loved this city! I continue to do some arts admin work remotely for the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) in Houston. I’ve actually really enjoyed seeing how the different kinds of work I do intersect and influence each other – there are many sides to being a musician! About six years after I graduated from GDYO, I got the opportunity to go back to the Czech Republic for a music festival – it was so much fun to revisit all the places I’d seen on tour. I actually remembered my way around!
4. Looking back on your college experience, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a student pursuing a music degree, like besides just practicing?
Hmm, this is hard, because there’s a lot that could be said. It’s absolutely true that you should take as many performance opportunities as you can (common – and good – advice), but I’d also say not to ignore academics. The skills I gained by paying attention in theory classes and nitpicking over history papers are actually the same skills I use today on gigs and in my work with ROCO. They also helped me land a TA position in grad school!
5. Looking back on your time outside of school, what are some things that have most surprised you about your adult life?
Haha, the amount of time I spend on e-mail?? More seriously, probably how my life today includes both things I always dreamed about doing and things that never even crossed my mind during GDYO days. It is true that life often ends up quite differently than what you expected or planned, but that can lead to wonderful surprises and experiences if you keep an open mind!