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SMITH: Mitchell's musical marvels prepare for next step

High school is a time to learn and grow, where students discover and cultivate their passions, interests, and talents that help them decide a path to take in life. As students graduate, many choose a major or even a college that best suits their interests.

Such is the case for Mitchell High School seniors Naomi Powers and Tessa Yeo. However, unlike most of their classmates, getting into the college of their dreams has been a long and demanding process.

Powers has been playing violin since the age of four, taking private lessons, participating in orchestras and quartets, and practicing for hours each day. Yeo has been performing on stage since she was eight and has been a member of choirs and musicals since elementary school. Both exceptionally talented, they plan to attend school for their respective crafts next fall.

Powers and Yeo had to not only apply for college and be accepted academically, they also had to audition to be accepted into their prospective schools' music program. "Most of my peers just had to apply for their schools and got in solely based on their academics," Yeo said. "I got into all of my schools on an academic level, and then the next step was to go to the school and audition. It definitely was a longer process than what a lot of my peers had to go through."

The audition process was different for each, but nonetheless grueling. Prior to her auditions, Powers had practiced violin for 4-5 hours each day and attended private lessons, preparing a repertoire of pieces. She then attended three live auditions, at Rice University in Texas, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University.

"Every audition was different at every school. You have a list of repertoire prepared to play for the audition, but some faculty members might ask for one piece first or they will leave it up to you," Powers said. "While playing, they might stop you to hear the next piece as you are only given 10-15 minutes to show them what you can do. I never knew exactly what to expect in each audition."

For Yeo, she similarly had to prepare and practice a repertoire of songs, both classical and musical theater as well as a minute-long monologue. She auditioned at Marymount Manhattan College in New York, Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio, Belmont University in Tennessee, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"Each [audition] was definitely stressful," Yeo said. "The days usually started around 9 a.m. and went until 6 p.m. They consisted of singing, acting, and a dance call, which was basically a dance class where they taught us different combinations and tested our abilities."

Both Powers' and Yeo's audition processes were long and demanding. They had to go out of their comfort zones and showcase the talents that they've been honing for years for people who hold the fate of their futures in their hands. "I had heard from many friends that it was going to be the worst couple of months, and it was not fun, but looking back on it, I definitely learned a lot more than I realized," said Powers.

Regardless of the painstaking auditions, both were willing to do whatever they could to continue perfecting their talent and pursue a career in what they love. Yeo will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Vocal Performance and minoring in Musical Theatre. She hopes to then find a regional theater and eventually perform on Broadway.

Powers will not know where she will attend until the end of April or May, but plans to major in Violin Performance. She hopes to one day teach in her own private studio as well as continue playing in an orchestra.

Both Yeo and Powers are truly gifted performers. They have portrayed perseverance and diligence in their academics, activities, and their love for music. Now their many years of preparation are paying off as they take the next step and further their musical talents at the collegiate level.