LETTER: Ensemble member thanks Susan Ainley

LETTER: Ensemble member thanks Susan Ainley

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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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By |2018-03-01T15:14:13+00:00February 8th, 2018|Letter to Editor, Opinions|11 Comments

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  1. Avatar
    McKensy Neal February 8, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Thank you Mrs.Ainley!

  2. Juliana Lozano
    Juliana Lozano February 8, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    This is so well written and really shows how much Mrs. Ainley invests in us every day. Lots of love for you, Mrs. Ainley!

  3. Bethany Pouliot
    Bethany Pouliot February 8, 2018 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Wow great job!

  4. Mariana Fikse
    Mariana Fikse February 8, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Well said Celeste 🙂 Thank you Mrs. Ainley for everything you do for us and for our school!

  5. Braden Bell
    Braden Bell February 8, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    This is so cool! Amazing job Celeste. I love Mrs. Ainley and all the hard work she puts in. I have only been with her for a year but have really noticed her passion for music and desire to make great singers out of all of us.

  6. Avatar
    Susan Ainley February 8, 2018 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Celeste-why do you want me to ugly cry at school???? That was the sweetest, kindest letter, and it means more than you will ever know. For the record, I have no memory of you failing at any performance, ever.

  7. Avatar
    Jacob Hyatt February 9, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Great article Celeste amazing to see what she has done for the choir program

  8. Avatar
    Erin Wilson February 9, 2018 at 2:40 pm - Reply


  9. Avatar
    Amanda Grimmius February 10, 2018 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Great article, Celeste! Love you Mrs. Ainley!!

  10. Avatar
    Hannah Nale February 12, 2018 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I love Mrs. Ainley so much. I will admit the music program is what I miss most of high school. What a great article Celeste! Praying for the choir as they prepare for New york!

  11. Zhu Yunxi
    Zhu Yunxi February 16, 2018 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness, Celestes, you are so amazing and you sing so beautiful and so lovely. Keep singing!

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