Just a Life Update…

With my senior year behind me, I can say it’s been a pretty unbelievable couple of semesters, for so many reasons.  So much has happened since I posted in August that I figured it was time for an update…

This year, I had nine performances of several of my pieces.  One of the highlights was having the Belmont Orchestra perform Out of Ashes twice this spring: once at the annual Classical Performers Concert, as the winner of the Composition Competition, and once at the Tennessee Music Education Association Conference.  I’ve learned so much from my peers over the last four years, so it was wonderful to hear them play my work—not to mention that they gave it such incredible performances!

0327-Classical Perfprmers Concert-246-X3.jpg
The Belmont Symphony Orchestra performing my composition, Out of Ashes, in March 2017


In March, I took a solo road trip down to Columbus, Mississippi, for Mississippi University for Women’s inaugural Music by Women Festival I was invited to perform my solo piano composition, Agitato, and I felt it was one of the strongest performances I’ve given it.  I met so many wonderful people there, it was a great experience, and I learned so much.  At most of the festivals I’ve attended, they’ve consisted primarily of other musicians my own age, but at MBWF, there were mostly professors and a few grad students.  I felt like I caught a glimpse of what I could be doing in another ten years, so it gave me a lot to consider.

Just a handful of the dozens of women composers in attendance at the Music by Women Festival


Speaking of Agitato…  I also found out in March that Agitato was one of six pieces to receive Honorable Mention in Tribeca New Music Festival’s national Young Composer Competition!  Read more here.


Finally, I had the opportunity to have two of my pieces featured on Nashville Composer Collective concerts this year.  Click here for a video of the November performance of my piano trio, Fuse.

Fuse Premiere.png
Performing Fuse at Bennett Art Galleries for Nashville Composer Collective’s November 2016 concert


Unfortunately, something I cannot add to this list of updates is graduation.  I spent the last four years taking summer classes and meticulously planning my schedule to be sure I would finish both my Composition and Audio Engineering degrees without taking an extra semester, but despite my best efforts, life transpired against me last summer and threw a wrench in all my plans.

When life knocks you down, you’ve gotta keep coming back out of the ashes!

I don’t feel like getting into what happened, but suffice it to say that it was bad and unexpected, so I had no choice but to take fewer classes at a time this year.  Consequently, I now need another semester to graduate.  It really pulled the rug out from under me, so I’m still trying to figure everything out and move forward.  Yet despite the bad things that happened in the summer, I’ve had a lot of good things happen over the last few months, so I try to stay positive.

Because I don’t graduate until this fall, it probably means I won’t start graduate school until fall of 2018, so now I have to figure out what I’ll do in the time off that I’ll have.  Interning?  Teaching?  Composing?  Just decompressing and trying to figure out life?  Hopefully all of the above.  And there’s always the possibility that I’ll take another year off, or maybe I won’t go to graduate school, depending on what opportunities come my way.  Who knows?

But what’s coming up in the near future?

I’ll be away for a lot of this summer, studying composition at a couple of summer music festivals.  I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I’m back in the studio composing and preparing for my second solo piano album.  I know I keep saying it’s about to come out, but this time I mean it for real: the release date is set to coincide with my senior recital in November.  I’ll be talking about this more soon, so stay tuned!

Well, there you have it—the latest goings-on in my life.  After all the setbacks over the summer, I’m all the more grateful to have had so many opportunities and performances this year.  I think I’ll try to keep this blog more up-to-date this summer, so I hope you’ll stick around…

10 thoughts on “Just a Life Update…

  1. Shelb, you are far from alone when it comes to a setback from graduating on time to say the very least. For everything you have done, all that you have been through in the last years, it is hard to say you aren’t actually ahead of where most people would be in your own shoes. You are remarkably strong.. I know you want to get to the next part of your life, I know you deserve it. And I know you will.I have a feeling you have a brighter future ahead of you than you are imagining for yourself right now, and regardless of even that: What matters is the fact that you decided to keep going through it all when most would have simply given up. You are the strongest person I know, and knowing you is something that has not only changed my life, but those around me
    –for I know what is possible because I have seen you do it over the years.

    Your ability to overcome… to keep going against any and all odds and prevail despite the difficulties has not only inspired me, but saved people. People who were doubting that in their life, such things would be possible. Without knowing it your inspirational effect from what you see as living day to day –have actually saved people, some of whom are quite close and were in very dangerous situations. Without knowing it –You have actually saved lives. I implore you to keep the great work up, and to know I am always here for you. I owe you lots. 🙂


    1. Thanks so much for all the kind words and encouragement! Giving up would’ve meant letting adversity win, and after everything that I lost, I couldn’t stand to lose my dreams, too. Your support and belief in me has meant so much over the last few years. I wish that you will have the bright future that you so deserve as well.

  2. Fabulous musician! An inspirational young musician who uses her GIFT OF MUSIC for ALL to enjoy!

  3. Sometimes those little “bumps in the road” of life only make us stronger as we struggle to overcome them and move forward.

  4. Hey Shelby,
    Embrace the unexpected and the unplanned. That’s where a lot of interesting things happen. By the way, your cousins Cara and Bill Hall and his adorable wife Lynda and I went to the San Diego symphony on Sunday. (It was Cara’s idea). I’m hoping you’ll be performing here someday. Thanks for creating new compositions, it’s good for all of us. Keep up the inspiration, Cousin Kathy

What do you think?