Quick update 

1. I passed my oral exam — with honors! I feel shocked, like they made a mistake. Extra special thanks to Kexin for the encouragement, and to everyone who prayed or sent over good vibes. I felt ’em! ❤️

2. I completed my last final on Monday and turned in my final essay on Wednesday afternoon. I’m all the way done. It’s freaky. 
3. My parents are arriving on Sunday for a week-long visit. YAY!!! My sister comes on Tuesday. YAYYY!!!

4. Commencement is Saturday, May 16. Can’t believe it. Overjoyed. Saddened. Looking forward. 

5. Spending a lot of time thinking about jobs … And what I expect of myself. I still think, “I’m too young/not ready/not good enough for _________,” and the blank is anything above what I’ve done so far. I had this moment yesterday where I thought, “HEY. I am 29. I have experience. I have my master’s degree. I know I’m not perfect or the best, but that has to count for SOMEthing.” I have never considered low self-esteem a problem of mine, but I am realizing (such a late bloomer) that I do have to believe in myself and act with confidence. I actually am so shy and afraid 90% of my time awake (and am always surrounded my colleagues better than me), I forget my own skill level is pretty high. So I need to have confidence commensurate with experience. Maybe that’ll be my new catchphrase. 

6. Looking forward to Spoleto Festival USA way more than I thought I would. It’ll be a soft ending to a wonderful two years at WCC. 

7. God is good. Perspective is hard, but God is good. 

Confidence commensurate with experience,



A piece of cheesecake.

“You can’t be afraid, Sarah. I know your oral exam feels like the biggest thing in your life right now, but it’s just another step. Be confident! You are passing! You work hard. You are powerful. Don’t give your power away to anyone else. How can they believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? You are strong. This is a piece of cheesecake!”

Orals: Monday, April 20, 1 p.m. 

Pep talk: Kexin Xu, Tuesday, April 14, 9:35 a.m.

Celebratory dinner: Cheesecake Factory, Monday April 20, 7 p.m. 

Things about me:

I am very insecure about myself and my work.
I am an over-thinker, a micro-manager, and cripplingly afraid of being uncreative.
I am so afraid of failure that sometimes I don’t do my best in front of others so I know I will have more to give. This is easier than trying my hardest and not being able to improve on the spot.

Admitting is the first step.

Friendly reminder to myself

I was reminded of two important somethings today at the end of a Mastersingers dress rehearsal. We were rehearsing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Beethoven’s Mass in C and had a mini orchestra (flute, oboe, bassoon, and a string quartet) made up of both students and pros. Two of the soloists weren’t there, so Dr. Miller and Dr. Quist stepped in. What I learned was this:
1. We are all here to serve the music. That’s all. No matter how great we are. We can be just starting out or DCA of the greatest choral program in the US — we all come humbly to make music together. We love serving something greater than ourselves.
2. Dona nobis pacem. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It all comes out right in the end.


Westminster Choir is on tour to California, and no one could be happier. We started in San Francisco, migrated to Aptos, spent two beautiful days in Fresno, and now we are in Santa Monica.

I will never, never, never get tired of watching the tide come in.

Hello, my beautiful beautiful Ocean.
Hello, and goodnight.
And soon, good morning.






So this is the New Year…

It’s the first day of 2015, and I’m feeling melancholy. For maybe the first time in my life, I’m less excited for the future than the past. This is the year I graduate from Westminster Choir College. When I decided to postpone my enrollment in 2011, and even when I started classes in 2013, being a member of the class of 2015 seemed so very far away.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

But I never want to be someone who remembers her best years. As unbelievably wonderful this journey has been (and is) I believe that with God, the best is always yet to come.

It’s scary to not know what’s going to happen. It’s scary to have faith. But I believe. And just as I am full of hope, those unknowns are full of possibilities.

A New Year Carol by Benjamin Britten.

“Glad you’re here!”

As my first year at Westminster was beginning, several people said to me, “I’m so glad you’re here!” Some knew of my long journey to WCC; others did not. But it was so meaningful to me every time it was spoken. It felt like God Himself confirming that I was in the right place at the right time.

And so it is with great joy that now I get to say to students in this year’s class: “I’m so glad you’re here!”

Looking forward to another wonderful year,

Nostalgic already.

Today in Symphonic Choir, we started rehearsing music for Commencement, and it got me thinking about my first visit to this campus, and how I dreamed in 2010 that I might someday come study here. Now that I’m finally here, time is streaming by. I am so not ready for this year to be over! First, I have too much work to do in the next two weeks, I think sleep is a thing if the past. Second, it just doesn’t seem possible that my precious time at WCC is half over already. I want to enjoy every second.
Finally and most importantly, I only just now have started to feel like I’ve learned everyone’s names. Next year I’ll have to learn a whole new batch of names.
Too much; must postpone next year. I want to stay a first year grad student at Westminster forever.

You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl.


I recently had to register my car in New Jersey for insurance purposes. It made me sad, mostly because I miss home, and getting those NJ plates made our move to the East Coast feel extremely permanent.

But what really made me sad was that this morning, April 16, I had to scrape ice and snow off of my car.

Ice. And snow. April 16.

The good news is that the sun was out today. I hope against hope that spring has finally sprung.

Legends, 9 & 10 November 2013



Before the sweet glow of music-making fades into frantic studying, note-taking, rehearsals, and paper-writing, I want to take a quick moment to reflect on last weekend’s concerts.

We sang our program twice: in Doylestown, PA, on Saturday and in Bristol Chapel on campus on Sunday.  Such an incredible musical journey!  We tell the legend of “The Walled Up Woman” (Esenvalds) in reverse time, so the concert starts with her funeral and moves backward to her childhood.  We sing through her death, her acceptance of death, her marriage, her wedding, her youth.  It’s a powerful program, one that I think wouldn’t work if we sang the music any other way.

The Esenvalds piece has really grown on me.  It creeped me out when we first started working on it, but now I enjoy telling the story.  But now I feel badly for our whole audience who is hearing the piece for the first time (and possibly being freaked out by it). Matt says I’m very sensitive and that not very many people will react the way I did.  I hope that’s true.

I cried a lot during the performance.  Part of it, I’m sure, is the fact that I’m a young, married woman who unwittingly places herself into the storyline.  (Part of it is just the fact that I cry all the time.)  But it’s not my fault — this story is so emotional!  All the references to love make me think of my dear, dear husband and how precious our life together is.  Plus, one of our concert pieces was sung at our wedding, so you can pretty much expect some waterworks from me.

We also sing a few pieces by Daniel Elder…shameless plug, we have a new CD out now!  Buy it here!

I am completely honored and humbled to sing in the Westminster Choir.  Every day in rehearsal I am surrounded by some of the finest student musicians on the planet, and we’re being taught by one of the greatest choral pedagogues of our time, and I think, “How did I get here?  Do they know they let me into this group?”

Sometimes in performance (and rehearsal, too) I’ll stop singing for a second just to listen, and I can’t believe that I’m a part of this ensemble and a part of the sound.  Especially when I hear just the altos singing, I can’t believe how pure, beautiful, and unified the sound is, and that I’m in it.  It’s unbelievable.

I am so blessed.  I pray that I will remember that always.