Now he’d really done it.
Walking out of a lesson with professor Bruce Bransby of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, senior Bryan Bailey was ready to quit bass.
That was in October. His private bass teacher, Richard Ryan, had pulled some strings and scored him a lesson with Bransby.
“I was so bad — he just ripped me apart,” Bailey said. “I had never been more embarrassed in my life, I left the building and thought, ‘I’m done playing.’”
But it was IU. Bloomington, Indiana, sixteen hundred student musicians, more than 1,100 performances and the most orchestrally successful alumni in the nation — his dream.
One failed performance was only minor, right? He knew he was good. He knew he was really good. He also knew that pursuing music was a financial gamble, but he didn’t care; ramen and saltines for the rest of his life sounded good to him. And he wanted that fate, so, he stepped it up. After that failed lesson, every day, five hours a day, he worked to perfect his rhythm, tempo, style, tuning and tone production on his audition pieces.
His preparation was put to the test in March when Bailey played a five piece audition for two of the professors at IU, one of them being Bransby himself.
“It was badass,” Bailey said. “It was the best audition I played, it was the last audition I played, and at the end, I looked up and both of the professors were sitting there with this smug look on their face.”
Two months later, he received a much-anticipated envelope in the mail. Despite Bransby’s criticism, he was in.
The acceptance letter said that, on a scholarship, Bailey will attend classes like advanced music literature and theory, musical skills and history and literature of music, all working towards a double-bass performance major.
“[His acceptance] is a major accomplishment,” Ryan said. “As prestigious as IU Jacobs School is, Bryan earned his scholarship by being one of the top players that auditioned. Period.”
Outside of private lessons with Ryan, Bailey plays with the school. East orchestra teacher, Jon Lane, has instructed Bailey since he was a freshman.
“Bryan has had a great senior year,” Lane said. “He has been a great leader of the bass section and role model for younger orchestra members.”
The difference between his time at East and his time to come at IU will be the rate of rigor. Here, he plays only a few difficult pieces a year, but next year, he’ll be playing professional grade music, all day, everyday. And Bailey could not be more ready for the future.
“Deciding to be a musician was tough for me because I was always under the impression that money is happiness,” Bailey said. “Once I got that out of my head and realized that I just wanted to be happy through music, I didn’t care if I was going to starve. It used to scare me, but I don’t give a damn anymore because I’m going to be doing something that I absolutely love, and what more could I want.”