Viera graduate’s road to college filled with music … and auditions


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Viera High graduate Hannah Bedard is going to the University of Florida on a music scholarship. But it wasn't that easy. First, she had to be accepted by the school. Then, she had to audition.

CARL KOTALA

Waiting to find out of if you’ve been accepted into the college you’ve applied to can be a nervous time for any high school senior.

But for Viera High’s Hannah Bedard, a French horn player with a desire to major in music … that was just the half of it.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking because most kids … you apply to the school and you hope you get in,” she said. “But for me, I had to apply to the school, hope I get in, and then also apply to the music schools and hope I get in.”

Bedard, who ultimately chose the University of Florida, was accepted academically by all eight schools she applied to. Four schools were backups in case the music program didn’t work out.

The other four — Florida, Florida State, Stetson and the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music near Chicago — all required auditions where preparation time and the pressure to perform was enormous.

The situations were all different, too.

A few of the colleges wanted Bedard to do sight readings. Wheaton College wanted her to send a recording of three different movements from three different concertos. For Florida and Florida State, it was only two, but they were performed live. At Stetson, she had to sing after audition to show she could carry a tune.

“For the months prior to my auditions, I was playing the same things over and over and over again because … you know, there’s the idea that practice makes perfect,” Bedard said.

“I wanted to make it permanent. In an audition, you will mess up, but you want to make that mess up as miniscule as possible. It is a true performance.”

As it turned out, Bedard had her choice of schools. She was accepted by all of them. She chose to become a Gator.

“All the schools I got into have really good music programs,” she said. “What set Florida apart was probably just the number of signs I was getting and how much I clicked with the horn professor, Dr. (Paul) Basler.

“He’s a phenomenal player, composer and just a very personable individual. I really clicked with him when I had a lesson prior to my audition. And when I came to my audition, he greeted me with such a friendly smile, like we were old-time friends.

“It was just really cool. I felt really good about it. There were just a lot of signs between him, my scholarship … it was really wild. A year ago, if me from the future said, ‘Yeah, you’re going to go to UF,’ I would say they were totally crazy. I just never thought about it.”

Although she has been playing the French horn for six years, Bedard said it wasn’t until her junior and senior years that she became completely invested in making music her future.

She will be going into a four-year program where she will not only get her bachelor’s degree in music, but also a master’s degree in management.

“It’s an accelerated music degree and then your senior year is mainly (working toward) the master’s,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be a lot of work, but because I really would like to do arts administration or be a professor one day, I think it could really give me a leg up on some things.

“I’m really excited about it.”

Bedard’s advice to anyone preparing for a college music audition is to pick pieces that will be challenging — but not too challenging — and that will impress the professors or anyone listening.

“I think if someone doesn’t know a lot about music schools, they may not understand the preparation that goes into these auditions,” she said. “It’s very similar to someone preparing for that big championship game.

“And in a sense, it’s even more daunting. You don’t get to re-do your auditions. That’s it. You can re-audition, but that’s a year from that time. So that one audition determined for me if I got in, the amount of money I would be offered and sometimes even what music groups you’re placed in for the following school year.

“It really is a one-shot, bull’s-eye chance.”

And she nailed it.

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