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Celeste Counts reflects on six years of choral guidance

Senior Celeste Counts is a four-year Bellezza member and has worked with campus choral director Susan Ainley since junior high. Counts appreciates Ainley’s commitment and passion for the music department and her personal investment in her life. 

Dear Editor:

After spending six years with director Susan Ainley in the choral department, I have learned and grown so much. I am so thankful for all the ways she has been there for me, believed in me, and cheered me on. Even though all the time and effort she puts in may go unnoticed by others, she has made such a difference in my life.

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

Celeste Counts, ’18, (left) is thankful to have worked with choral director Susan Ainley since junior high. Counts looks forward to traveling with Ainley to sing at Carnegie Hall.

During my 8th grade year in junior high choir, Mrs. Ainley gave me a solo for the Christmas concert. The solo was particularly hard for me since I have stage fright and I couldn’t get the right note on a certain part. I completely failed during the performance and barely squeaked out the notes.

Yet before I left the stage, her comforting smile and gesture of reassurance calmed my nerves as I returned to my spot in the choir. Before she even came up to me after the concert, I had already forgotten my embarrassment. While she commented on how proud she was of my performance, I realized how much she meant to me and that I’d go up and sing any solo again just for her.

My confidence in my abilities and gratitude for Mrs. Ainley reached a crescendo my junior year while in the Bellezza ensemble. We exceeded our own expectations time after time, yet Mrs. Ainley saw our potential before we did. We went into that year thinking we were a weak group and ended it singing the national anthem at a San Francisco Giants game and receiving the highest score of any choral/band group at the Heritage Festival, all in April 2017.

Looking ahead to the rest of my senior year, I’m so excited to be traveling to New York City in April and singing in Carnegie Hall and later at Cal Poly for a festival.

Susan Ainley is my mentor, friend, second mom and teacher. She is my confidante and someone I can always count on.

I would’ve never dreamed that when I walked into that music suite as a pimple faced annoying 13-year-old that I would become a confident soloist, preparing to audition for my college choral department. Thank you Mrs. Ainley.

Celeste Counts

For more letters, read COLUMN: International student adapts to American academic system. For more articles, read BREAKING: Campus weighs in on NOTS proposals

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