Want to book an ensemble?

_MG_0704Want to book a music group for your next event?  Vanguard University has an array of ensembles to choose from, each featuring our talented students and renowned directors, from our large choirs, to our small vocal groups, to our instrumental ensembles.

We have performed at numerous churches and schools, whether through one-day visits in the local Southern California regions, tour stops throughout our surrounding states (including Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona), or even through international trips to China, Europe, the Philippines and Argentina.  Additionally, our larger venue performances have included Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Times Square Church, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the U.S. Naval Academy.


  • Be it a school assembly, church service, special event, high-profile reception…

From classical to religious, from oldies to contemporary…

The point is, whatever you need for your event, we have something just for you!



Now you might ask, “Which ensemble is best for my event?”  Of course, some groups are more obvious on their fit for your setting, such as our Concert Choir and Women’s Chorus.  In fact, most of our ensembles are very versatile to present a classical concert or lead a worship service or both, including our University Orchestra which also features a stage band and singers!  So just to give you an idea, if you’re looking for…

  • A small, professional vocal ensemble for special music or worship service?  LIFEsong can meet your need!
  • A flashback of jazz, swing, big band and various entertainment?  Our Jazz Combo and Jazz Ensemble are perfect for the job!
  • A multi-cultural flavor for an evening concert or high-profile reception?  Our Guitar Ensemble has what it takes!
  • A combination of select vocalists and instrumentalists for a worship concert or community outreach?  Vanguard Singers and Band would be a great choice!

SliderThen there’s our Barbershop and Beautyshop Quartets, Chamber Music, Percussion Ensemble, Strings Quartet…and the list goes on!

If you would like to book any of our ensembles, please simply complete our Concert Request Form, providing any details you want to help paint a picture of what you are looking for.  It will go straight to one of our concert coordinators, and they will make sure we get you what you need!

_MG_1443-EditOr if you simply have questions or would like to ask about our ensembles, festivals, tours, and other events, please don’t hesitate to contact our coordinators directly:

  • Email: concerts@vanguard.edu
  • Phone: 714-619-6409

The aim of our Department of Music is to bless you and glorify Christ.  We hope to see you at your next event!

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Chris Trimmer Awarded at 2016 Reno Jazz Festival


13115920_10153400449371831_3654655468715969846_oWe are proud to announce the awarding of one of our students in the Department of Music!  Just before the end of our 2016 Spring semester, members of Vanguard University’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo had the unforgettable experience of participating at the 54th annual 2016 Reno Jazz Festival.  Hosted by the University of Nevada in Reno, from Thursday, April 28 through Saturday, April 30, the Festival welcomed over 350 jazz groups from schools around the nation, including choirs, high school bands and combos, and college bands and combos.

Trimmer CroppedVanguard’s Jazz group, under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Foerch, performed and were adjudicated on that Friday, as the schedule was comprised of various clinics and competitions, featuring high-profile adjudicators and guest musicians offering their expertise.  Awards were given to select students who displayed outstanding musicianship, and we are very excited to say that one award was present to our very own Chris Trimmer, for “Outstanding Musicianship on Guitar”!  We congratulate Chris for this well-deserved recognition, and are so proud to be a part of this accomplishment in his career!

_MG_1258-EditAnother highlight of the Festival was the opportunity to enjoy a live concert by Snarky Puppy Jazz Band.  The entire event was an excellent, productive experience for our students, to glean from the adjudicators, share our Jazz talent and comeradery with other musicians, and of course network and bring more awareness to Vanguard.  Our Vanguard participants were as follows: Anthony Brough, Dulce Campos, Kevin Campos, Amanda Craig, Noah Debolt, Katherine Gonzales, William Leguizamon, Edward Martinez, Edwin Riano, Sierra Lowry-Shephard, Christopher Trimmer, Ebenezer Viveros, Josiah Waters, Brett Westerfield, and Ian Zamora.

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Alumnus Spotlight: Tyler Wolsten

“I sang with the Vanguard Choir in New York during my senior year in high school, and I witnessed the greatness that is Dr. Joni Prado. I knew that if I could study with someone as talented as Dr. Prado that I could make my dreams of performing a reality.” Tyler Wolsten, Class of 2013

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you decide to attend Vanguard University?

Well, my name is Tyler Mitchell Wolsten, and I grew up in Oregon and Idaho. I am currently in my second year at CSUF for my Masters of Music degree with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. My path to Vanguard is different than most, as I came in as a Freshmen Transfer uprooting from my family and friends in Boise, Idaho. I sang with the Vanguard Choir in New York during my senior year in high school, and I witnessed the greatness that is Dr. Joni Prado. I knew that if I could study with someone as talented as Dr. Prado that I could make my dreams of performing a reality. I studied with Dr. Prado at the beginning of my Sophomore year, and will always be indebt to her guidance and support.

 Q: Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had here in the Department of Music.

I have had the pleasure of performing all over Europe with Vanguard, as well as at Avery Fischer Hall in New York, and Segerstrom Hall in O.C. I can’t think of one particular experience that helped me grow as a musician, but the professionalism that the music faculty displayed set me on course to be an example elsewhere.

Q: Where are you now? Why did you decide to go to graduate school to pursue a Master of Music degree?

I am currently at CSUF pursuing my Graduate work. I spent about 8 months out of school from Vanguard not really pursuing anything musically. I continued to take lessons, but performance opportunities were slim. I felt like I was in a transitional period that I simply couldn’t sustain, and knew that Graduate School needed to be my next move to continue the growth I had been graving.

Q: Congratulations on landing the lead role in The Magic Flute! What is it like preparing to portray a prince in one of Mozart’s most beloved operas?

Thank you! It is a lot of hard work and time management at the moment. I spend most days trying to improve my understanding of the text as I’m doing it in German. Die Zauberflöte is a Singspiel opera, which means there is spoken dialogue similar to an operetta or a musical. To properly understand the inflection, and syntax of my lines requires hours of study and practice each day. Mozart has a way of sounding easy, but being incredibly difficult with the nuance and detail needed to perfect his score. Tamino is a wonderful character to immerse myself with. He is innocent, brave, trustworthy, passionate, loving, kind, and rational. Getting into his head space and inner objects has been a treat!

Q: What excites you the most about the opportunity to travel to Germany to study opera?

I think the experience I’m receiving both now and while I’m there. I try to work diligently to be as prepared as possible with a role this big, and the discipline it requires is a lot! I think being able to say that I am able to perform something to this magnitude speaks to how powerful our God is, and how using our talents to honor him shows that we can achieve great things in his name.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming and current students?

That work ethic is a talent too, and that attitude means everything. I’ve learned that people will not give you opportunities, and if you truly believe God has called you to a path, run as fast as you can towards it. Our time here is short, so use what God gave you!

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Recap: 2016 Guitar & Jazz Festivals

On Saturday, February 27th, Vanguard University hosted its third annual Guitar and Jazz Festivals. Vanguard’s campus was buzzing with excitement from all of the local middle school, high school, and community college participants. This year, the two unique festivals welcomed over 200 participants!

2016 Guitar FestivalTrio camino

The Guitar Festival kicked off with a recital on Friday night, featuring Trio Camino. Trio Camino is the collaboration of three masters of the classical guitar, including David Grimes, Dr. Gregory Newton, and Vanguard’s very own, Professor Michael Nigro.

Saturday morning, guest conductor, Chuck Hulihan, led all of the participants in a joint rehearsal to prepare for the evening concert.

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In the afternoon, the acclaimed voice/guitar duo Crouse Denman performed, followed by simultaneous sessions including a master class with Matt Denman, a jazz improv workshop with Duane Broberg, a flamenco workshop with Walter Molina, and mock auditions with P
rofessor Nigro and Dr. Gregory Newton.

The evening gala concert consisted of each school performing for one another and then all participants performed the final pieces Ballad and Tango together. We would like to especially thank La Mirada High School, Orange County School of the Arts, Riverside Community College, Santa Maria High School, Benton Middle School/Los Coyotes Middle School, Cypress College, and all of our guest clinicians for making this festival such a success!

2016 Jazz Festival

DSC_0425[1] smallThe Jazz Festival jumped right into the morning performances and adjudications at the festival concert stage, welcoming the jazz bands of Estancia High School, Calvary Murrieta Christian School, Heritage Christian School, and Bakersfield Christian School.  Each performance session featured 2-3 selections from the school’s repertoire, followed by a debrief clinic by our guest adjudicators: Elliot Deutsch, Ronald Kobayashi and Jonathan Rowden.

After enjoying lunch at Vanguard’s Cafe, the participants then attended one of our workshops DSC_0580[3] smallat various locations on campus, also facilitated by our adjudicators, covering brass, sax, woodwinds and rhythm techniques.

To finish off the day, everyone reconvened at the festival concert stage to enjoy a special performance by Vanguard’s Jazz Ensemble and Combo, under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Foerch.  In between pieces, awards were presented to recognize outstanding soloists as well as entire groups from among the visiting schools.

DSC_0611[3] smallOur deepest thanks go out to the participants and directors, the guest adjudicators, and of course our very own faculty, staff and students to help make this event possible!

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Alumna Spotlight: Xiaoying (Jenny) Chen

“There is nowhere else in the world you could possibly find such mentors like the faculty and staff in the Department of Music at Vanguard University.” Xiaoying (Jenny) Chen, Class of 2015

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you decide to attend Vanguard University? 

Hi, my name is Xiaoying (or Jenny) Chen. I am from China, and was born and raised in Guangzhou, where my family still lives. In the second year of high school, I was looking for a college music program that would embrace the Christian faith, which was impossible to find in China. I had the privilege to attend the Vanguard Singers and Band’s performances in Guangzhou in both 2005 and 2008, and thought how awesome would it be, if one day, I could worship with them. I heard about the Vanguard University Music Department from Dr. Melton’s parents Jim and Bonnie, who had been in China for over 30 years as missionaries. I wanted to give a special thank you to Dr. Melton and his family here, through whom God had opened the door and enabled me to come to Vanguard University.

Q: Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had here in the Department of Music.

I was truly amazed by the program and how much the professors cared about us. There is nowhere else in the world you could possibly find such mentors like the Vanguard faculty and staff. Mrs. Dovel had been such a great support to me, as well. I am really thankful God had started my “U.S. journey” from Vanguard, or I couldn’t be able to adapt and adjust to such a new culture in a short time. I was able to develop many incredible relationships with the professors from the music department over the past four years, and I know they would always be supportive of me in my career.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned here?

The most valuable lesson I learned here is NEVER GIVE UP. There were many fun and easy times, but there were also some hard times when things were falling apart. I had made many mistakes and had lots of regretful moments that I wished I had handled them differently. I had thought that I could never make it, or I am not talented enough to survive in music. The only thing I could do was keep paddling! If God had not yet quit on me (and He never will), why should I? It was hard, but I have to keep reminding myself take a breath and just move on.

Q: Where are you now? Why did you decide to go to graduate school to pursue a Master of Music degree? 

I am now pursuing a Master degree in Viola Performance at Carnegie Mellon University, getting ready to enjoy the cold Pittsburgh winter. A special thank you to Sorah Myung, my private instructor, who had truly encouraged and prepared me to pursue a higher degree. I am really thankful for this opportunity. I know there is so much room I could grow and learn in music. This two year program would enable me to become a better musician.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming students? 

As your sister in Christ, I could say: please read your Bible daily and pray daily. Your relationship with Christ always matters most.

As your musician friend, I have to say something you hate to hear: GO TO THE PRACTICE ROOM NOW. Some of my colleagues think I take this practice thing too seriously, but I want to tell you one of the most regretful things I did for my college years was not practicing enough. I wished I could have realized how important practices were as a freshman.

Another really important point is to seek outside opportunities and build connections. If you are a good musician equipped with solid skills, there would be thousands of opportunities out there. These opportunities would take you to places you might had never thought you could be in. (I was able to travele to Boston, Washington DC, Duxbury, Texas, New York, Hawaii, in the past four years.) Look for festivals, performing opportunities, workshops, conferences outside of Vanguard. Talk to your instructor, ask them to help you find and prepare for the auditions. Build your network with professional colleagues in and outside of Vanguard. But remember, unless you step outside of your comfort zone and present yourself, you would never know how big the world is.

Lastly, enjoy your college years. Don’t try to “kill time”. This is a once in a lifetime experience. As a VU alumna, I really wish you all the best in your walk with Christ and your career in music! Hope to meet you soon in the future.



Fantasia Faculty Q&A




Sure, we at the Music Department know each of our awesome faculty is good at what they do.  But what else do they enjoy?  Each year before Fantasia, we like to highlight one of our professors and get to know a little more about them.  This year, we asked our beloved Professor Mildred Yi some fun questions (and added some handy links for your enjoyment).  Check it out!


Music Dept: What is your favorite Christmas carol?
Yi: The First Noel


Music Dept: What is one of your best Christmas memories?
Yi: Celebrating first Christmases with my children


Music Dept: What Christmas tradition or activity do you enjoy the most?
Yi: My children get a special book for each Christmas


Music Dept: What was one of the best Christmas presents you received?
Yi: Getting a Pound Puppy (stuffed animal) with a red sweatshirt


Music Dept: What is a random fact about you that people probably wouldn’t guess?
Yi: Hiked in the Himalayas, like to eat jellyfish


And now a question for you:


Have you been to our annual Christmas Fantasia yet?


If your answer is “No”, then you’re in a for a real treat!  
If you’re answer is “Yes”, then you’ve probably been excited all year for the next one!


Either way, we invite you, your family and your friends to join us as our faculty and students all come together to bring in the holiday season and celebrate the birth of our King!  Click here for more information on this fantastic concert!


www.vanguard.edu/fantasia | (714) 966-5441 | fantasia@vanguard.edu


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Recap: 2015 Invitational Choral Festival

What a joy it is to bring multiple choirs together to sing and experience the beauty of choral music!  The Vanguard University Music Department held its first ever Invitational Choral Festival on October 27 and 28 which included 400 plus students from schools all over Southern California.


The Corona Del Mar Vox Angelica Women’s Chorus.

The Festival began Tuesday night with the Women’s Chorus Festival featuring Woodbridge High School’s Bel Canto Women’s Chorus under the  direction of Rob Blaney followed by the women’s chorus from Corona Del Mar High School, Vox Angelica under the direction of Andrew Ball. Each group performed their three pieces beautifully and had the opportunity to work with our guest adjudicator and clinician Stan McGill. The Tuesday night festival concluded with a performance of Vanguard’s own Women’s Chorus Luminaria under the direction of Dr. Joni Prado.

Click here for more about the Women’s Chorus.

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The Vanguard University Women’s Chorus under the direction of Dr. Joni Prado.


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Woodbridge High School under the direction of Rob Blaney

Wednesday’s Festival hosted seven different mixed Choirs from high schools including Woodbridge High School under the direction of Rob Blaney, Heritage Christian High School under the direction of Dr. Galen Clark, Brethren Christian High School under the direction of Ryan Yoder, Edison High School under the  direction of Joe Kral, La Mirada High School under the direction of Evan Eliason, Hesperia High School under the direction of Amanda Graley, and Marina High School under the direction of Eric Graham. Each school performed a variety of pieces ranging from classical to contemporary spanning hundreds of years of music composition. All the choirs gave commanding performances and drew praise from their peers and and directors. Wednesday’s festival ended with a performance from the Vanguard University Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. James Melton.

Click here for more about the Concert Choir. 


The Vanguard University Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. James Melton.



Stan McGill, Guest Adjudicator and Clinician.

Stan McGill taught 33 years in secondary choral music education in Texas and Missouri. Professional positions include Texas  Music  Educators Association Vocal Chair, and President of both TMEA and Southwest American Choral Directors Association. He  has  served on numerous TMEA, TCDA and ACDA committees including Program for the 2009, 2013 & 2017 National ACDA  Conferences. He is active as an adjudicator, speaker, director and clinician throughout the United States. He was one of four  national authors for the Warner Brothers Music Expression Textbook for Secondary Choirs. Mr. McGill, along with co-author Dr.  Morris Stevens, wrote “90 Days to Sightreading Success” and “Another Sightreading Success” available through AMC Publications.  Their middle school sight reading methods book “18 Lessons to  Sightreading Success” is available through Hal Leonard. His choral  methods book “Beyond Singing”, is also published by Hal Leonard and co-authored with Elizabeth Volk. His choral arrangements  are available through Shawnee Press and he is editor of the Stan McGill Choral Series with Hal Leonard. He is a contributing author for the 2015 release of the  Leonard/McGraw-Hill music textbook Voice in Concert.

Mr. McGill has had extensive leadership service with ACDA and his articles have been published in the Southwestern MusicianCommon TimesChoral Journal, and Texas Sings. He has directed numerous honor choirs including all state choirs in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. He directed the 2008 SWACDA 8-10 Boys Honor Choir in Kansas City. His choirs have performed nine times for TMEA, SWACDA and National ACDA Conventions and have made 3 European tours. A native of Sikeston, Missouri, Mr. McGill graduated from William Jewell College and received his master’s degree from Arizona State University. In 2014, Mr. McGill received the “Choral Excellence Award” from the Texas Choral Directors Association, based on his contributions to choral music in Texas, mentorship and inspiration to colleagues and students, and continued advocacy for the future of choral singing.  He continues to serve as a church choir director.

“Thank you to the 400+ students that represented 8 schools in our first-ever Vanguard University Invitational Choral Festival. We hope to see you all next year!” 

Choral Festival Program Information



Audiologist Jane Steckler Shares About Hearing Health

Every semester, the Vanguard University Department of Music holds a “Bootcamp Series” and invites guest speakers to pBlausen 0328 EarAnatomy.pngresent an educational series on a myriad of topics including potential career paths, music field research, and common musician health issues.

As part of our Bootcamp Series this semester, we recently had audiologist Jane Steckler come and share with us about pitch, volume, the anatomy of the ear, hearing loss, and hearing protection.

If you missed the presentation, you can watch the highlight videos below, but here are some notable statements from Jane:

“You cannot protect your ear, and not wear ear protection.”

“Once hair cells are damaged, they are irreparable.”

“Hearing devices do not bring your hearing back to normal. They do a lot [...] but it’s not normal. While you can, do something about it.”

How the Ear Works:

How to Test Hearing:

Hearing Loss/Noise Damage:


For more safety and development features, please visit our Student Professional Development Page.

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Spotlight: Dr. Izumi Kashiwagi & Her Upcoming Chamber Music Recital

Dr. Izumi Kashiwagi is preparing to hold a Chamber Music Recital on campus on Tuesday, October 20th at 5:00 PM in Needham Chapel.  She is the recipient of many scholarships and awards, and she earned masters and doctorate degrees in Keyboard Collaborative Arts from University of Southern California under the instruction of Kevin Fitz-Gerlad receiving full scholarship, Koldofsky fellowship and teaching assistantship. She has been active in performing in Los Angeles and Tokyo and has acknowledged as Liszt scholar/Piano artist from Liszt International Competition in Los Angeles and has collaborated with various renowned artists such as the former principal cellist of Los Angeles Philharmonic and the violin professor at the Eastman School of Music. 

Q: How did you get interested in music, and what specifically drew you to the piano?

I am the youngest in my family, and my siblings were already playing the piano, so it was natural for me to learn the piano as well. My mother was a junior high school music teacher. I also played the violin for eight years. (I cannot play it anymore!)

Q: How often do you practice, and for how long?

I try to practice everyday for at least 3-4 hours (ideally…)

Q: What have you enjoyed the most about investing in the students, here at Vanguard University?

I am always thrilled to listen to my students who work hard and show any improvement in their playing. It is a such wonderful feeling when they perform and feel satisfied with the performance. I am not looking for perfection in music. I am looking for achievement, improvement, joy and love of the music in students’ playing, and I have been enjoying teaching all of my students here at the university. Praise GOD!!!

Q: What inspired you to present this upcoming Chamber Music Recital on Tuesday, October 20th? How long has it taken you to prepare for this?

I would like to give our students  more opportunities to attend the professional classical music concerts. Also, I believe that watching the professors’ performances affect and inspire the students. When I was a student, I attended to my teachers’ performances and learned many things from watching his/her performances.

The cellist and I have been playing together for at least a couple of years now. For this particular concert, we have been practicing together since the end of summer.

Q: If you had to choose, what would be your favorite piece you will be playing at this next recital? Why?

Brahms Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 38 in E minor

It is just a beautiful piece! Brahms is known as a composer who wrote many genres of classical music, not only piano repertoire, vocal rep, chamber music rep, orchestra rep, and choral rep. This piece has the quality of beautiful singing like in his vocal works, massive orchestral-like sounds and pianistic passages in all 3 movements.


Dr. Izumi Kashiwagi: Chamber Music Recital will be held on campus on Tuesday, October 20th at 5:00 PM in Needham Chapel. Please contact (714) 619-6410 for more details.

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Annabella Cervero - Composition Intensive

Student Spotlight: Annabella Cervero Attends Summer Composition Intensive

Bachelor of Music in Composition candidate, Annabella Cervero, was admitted as one of sixteen emerging composers to partake in the Saint Mary’s College Summer Composition Intensive in South Bend, Indiana this past summer. The Summer Composition Intensive consisted of twelve days of presentations, workshops, and lessons in different topics including Texture: Depth in Music, Joining Music Cultures, and Balancing Architecture and Emotion.

Q: Why were you interested in attending the Summer Composition Intensive?

Dr. Glancey introduced the idea to me.  He thought attending an event such as this would help improve my composition skills and prepare me for graduate school.   We found this particular composition intensive at St. Mary’s College through “The Composer’s Site”.

Q: How would you describe your overall experience?

I had a wonderful experience.  I learned so much about composition, networking, and the reality of what life is like as a professional composer.  I also met many amazing people.  As the only composition major at Vanguard, I don’t really have the opportunity to collaborate with other composers very often.   It was so refreshing to be surrounded by other composers for two weeks in Southbend, IN.

Q: Out of all of the different presentations and workshops you attended, which one stood out to you the most? Why?

I thought that every workshop and masterclass I attended was beneficial.  I was most inspired by the workshop with Dr. Paul Salerni on the topic of art songs.  However, the workshops that were most beneficial to my growth as a composer were the workshops with Dr. P.Q. Phan.  The topics of his workshops forced me to get out of my comfort zone and compose in ways I had never tried before.  For example, I have not spent much time researching or writing opera yet in my compositional studies, and in one workshop, I was given a project that required me to research, analyze, and compose an operatic monologue for a dramatic soprano in less than 24 hours.  On another occasion, I had project that required me to abandon all of my musical intuition and compose a piece completely based on numbers.  For this assignment, we were also encouraged not to use any instruments while generating our material, or even listen to the piece until it was completed.  This was particularly challenging for me, because I am usually very auditory in my composing process, and I like using a piano when I am in the process of notating my ideas onto paper.   This project forced me to really hone in on my written and aural theory skills to produce a completely technical piece.

Q: What do you think was the biggest lesson you learned while you were there?

In addition to all of the great lessons I learned about the art of composition, I also learned about the importance of networking and relationships in the music industry.  Who you know is just as important as what you know.  The composition intensive gave me a reality check on how challenging it is to make a living as an academic composer, and that you have to be willing to be flexible and versatile.  Almost everyone who makes a living as a composer also teaches or performs in some capacity.   Nevertheless, everyone I spoke to said that it was worth it.  The key is loving what you do.

Furthermore, because there was such a wide range of age, experience, and skill level among the participants of the intensive, I had the opportunity to learn about grad school programs as well.  It was a nice way to get me thinking about the near future.

Bella Composition Intensive