Working hard is hard work


Emily Davis

SAT preparation and music school audition memorization stacked on top of each other make for a stressful time. Working hard is hard work, but it also bears fruitful results.

Something I’ve recently learned to be undeniably true is that working hard is hard work. Though that sounds simple and obvious (because it is) it can also be overwhelming. 

[T]hese past two weeks have probably been the most stressful of my life.

— Editor-in-Chief Emily Davis

Stress factors come from a wide variety of sources including final AP Exams, homework motivation, balancing a social life, applying to colleges, scholarships, SAT prep, and more.

For me, these past two weeks have probably been the most stressful of my life. And I say that legitimately. I have never been more stressed out of my mind, but now that it’s all behind me and some of the results are already here–the feeling of successful relief could not be more freeing. 

My sources for this kind of stress stemmed from two things: SAT preparation and preparing for my auditions to get into Georgia Southern’s music school, Fred and Dinah Gretsch School of Music. And with just my luck, my audition recordings and Zoom call landed on the same week as the SAT. 

Now why would I be taking the SAT if the scores aren’t required and I’m already accepted into my college? Well, that’s simple: the scholarship money. I’ve taken the SAT two other times and I’ve gotten the exact same score, an 1180, both times. Better yet, the score was split 590/590 both times. 

I’m twenty points away from the Zell requirement. You’ve got to be kidding me. My parents encouraged me to take the test one final time, no matter the score, and this time we got a tutor to start helping me every week beginning in January. 

Working hard is hard work, example number one: I busted my rear to be completing the weekly homework, and the week I was assigned an entire practice test I shook my head in disappointment in myself. This was two weeks ago, a week before the real deal on March 13, and I was dreading that Thursday’s session when my tutor would calculate my score. I didn’t know how to calculate an SAT score, so after I checked my answers I did what I could and at least marked all of my incorrect answers. 

To my surprise, my tutor was quite impressed. I increased my score by not twenty points, but a full 1020 points. If that practice test happened to be the real thing, I just scored a lovely 1300. Now I won’t know my official score for a little while, but I can tell you that I have little to no doubt in my mind that I reached my goal. 

This week in particular was a whole different ballpark of hard work though.

— Editor-in-Chief Emily Davis

Working hard is hard work, example number two: Within the same week that I racked myself with hard work for even just completing that SAT practice test in time for the tutor, I was working on memorizing my two pieces for my music audition. I’m auditioning for piano primary, seeking a master’s degree in music education. Requirements for the songs are “two contrasting pieces of standard repertoire” and essentially all that means is to have two songs that are extremely different in style. Oh, and the songs have to be memorized. 

For a little bit of background, I’ve been playing piano for upwards of 12 years now. The songs I have to play definitely work a number on my hands, but I enjoy every moment. This week in particular was a whole different ballpark of hard work though. 

I’d wake up early, practice, and work on memorization for an hour, go to my room to work on SAT homework for 40 minutes, then go to school. I’d practice another hour several days of the week during school, during my fifth period where I had access to a keyboard. I’d then come home, go about my usual busy life, and then practice for at least one more hour. I sat at the piano for close to 12-13 hours in that same week I dealt with SAT work. 

Last week was the big week, where all of my hard work was going to be measured. On Wednesday I wanted to record my audition videos, attempted to for three hours straight after school, and cried several times after my repeated lack of success and no progress.

By 9 p.m. I gave up on trying to record my actual songs, and recorded the two scales and arpeggios required. Thursday morning–thank goodness we were asynchronous so I could work–I struck a stroke of luck and recorded both songs. 

The first, “La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin” by Claude Debussy, only 3:15 minutes long. This song I enjoyed much more, and learned and memorized all in the month of March. The second song, however, “Sonatina Op. 36, No. 3” by Muzio Clementi… 9:28 minutes long. This song is absolutely wild with far too many repeats in my personal opinion, but its speed makes it incredibly fun.  

I’d been accepted into the Fred and Dinah Gretsch School of Music at Georgia Southern entering as a piano primary. 

— Editor-in-Chief Emily Davis

Hitting submit on those videos relieved so much stress, and now I just had to do my Zoom part of the audition Friday at 4 p.m., the sight-reading portion. All this means is you read music you’ve never seen before and play on the spot. Truthfully, I wasn’t worried about it, and I left the Zoom call feeling confident and comfortable after playing the piece I was sent and talking with the two professors on the call. 

And thus I arrive to Saturday, the last and final day of my overwhelming source of stress. Honestly, the biggest thing I’ve learned to help calm myself with the SAT is that all it is is a really big test. That’s it. Better yet, after my practice test the previous week, I felt confident I’d make the mere 20 points more. Now that it’s all under my belt, I feel reassured. 

Sunday night I got my email from Dr. Murray that told me I’d been accepted into the Fred and Dinah Gretsch School of Music at Georgia Southern entering as a piano primary. 

Success feels indescribably uplifting and encouraging after working yourself through a lot of sweat, tears, and lack of sleep. 

Success is simple and straightforward, but that does not mean it’s easy in any shape or form.

— Editor-in-Chief Emily Davis

Working hard is hard work, which sounds straightforward, and is. Success is simple and straightforward, but that does not mean it’s easy in any shape or form. From here on out it’s only going to get harder for me, but the reward is going to become greater along the way. 

If you’re going through something hard–no matter what that may be–I encourage you and applaud you for your hard work. There were several times where I was severely sleep deprived and had already sat at the piano for five hours or so a day where I’d be questioning if it was actually worth it and if I was talented enough. 

Sure that may sound a little pitiful, but everyone has that moment when they’re striving so hard to reach something and all they can do is question if they’re good enough to reach it. All the more so when it’s something important to them. 

You’re good enough to reach it, I assure you. Working hard is just hard work. Set yourself a goal and persistently pursue it.