By Michelle Jones (HS'90), Carnegie Mellon Today, October 2010
The high school student from Grand Island, Neb., received some surprisingly non-medical advice during one of her annual check-ups: apply to Carnegie Mellon. The physician was convinced her musically and academically talented patient would thrive on the Pittsburgh campus.
Before that doctor's visit, the university wasn't on Jennifer Schneider's radar; in fact, the acclaimed Julliard School was the frontrunner for the classical guitar student until she visited the New York City school and discovered she would have to put her other interests-specifically history and writing-on hold to follow Julliard's program of music-centric courses.
Although degrees from Carnegie Mellon's School of Music are also conservatory-like in their specificity, the setting within a university of seven colleges allows students to pursue minors or even double majors in any number of subjects. A performance career is definitely Schneider's ultimate goal, she says convincingly, but she wants to make sure that she doesn't end up working at a McDonald's or perhaps the local Cold Stone Creamery. Schneider already knows about the latter, having worked there during high school. (She recommends the white chocolate.)
Schneider began playing guitar in middle school, with dreams of becoming a rock star. She started with an acoustic but says her instructor Richard Klentz kept suggesting she try music written for classical guitar. "There's just this sense that you get that someone has either the interest or the discipline [for] classical guitar," say Klentz. "I noticed she had the finger dexterity on both hands that's required for classical guitar."
After a couple of years, Klentz's bait-and-switch worked; Schneider was completely hooked. One of the classical styles she bought into was the culture of eschewing guitar picks and playing with fingers instead; longer nails make grabbing the classical strings easier, thus, increasing volume. A broken nail, then, can mean disaster-or at least that's how Schneider feels. "If I break one, that's as girly as you'll see me," she says. She broke three in the days before her Carnegie Mellon audition; fortunately for her, she had a backup plan: fake nails.
In addition to Carnegie Mellon, she applied to and was accepted by five schools (nixing Julliard). Carnegie Mellon is where she enrolled. Schneider is a student in the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) program with concentrations in history and writing in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Music Performance in the College of Fine Arts. Collectively the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA), Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA), and Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) programs are grouped under the single heading of BXA Intercollege Degree Programs.
Photo Credit: LAD Photography of Grand Island, NE