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Singing his own song

Cindy Ramunno
Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily
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Only 15 applicants were accepted to the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music for the next term. Galen Jacobs will be one of those talented, full-time students who will have the unique opportunity to study at one of the nation’s top music schools.

They must have really liked Jacobs’ audition, because on top of that, the Vail Christian High School senior was awarded a $12,000 music scholarship and an $8,000 university scholarship.

When applying to Lamont, students must perform an audition for faculty prior to even being considered for acceptance to the school or even DU. Along with that, Jacobs had to submit a completed application with an essay, recommendations from a school counselor and a teacher, and complete the Hyde Interview, an in-person interview with two or three DU alumni. Hyde interviews are conducted all around the nation, as well as on campus.

The vocal audition Jacobs completed included two pieces, preferably of contrasting character, which exhibited his skill, technique and understanding of musical phrasing and expression. Technical skills and sight reading tests are also asked for during auditions at the school.

“I plan to study for their dual degree program where I would graduate in five years with a B.A. in music and an M.B.A.,” explains Jacobs, who is humbled by the experience. Along with singing, Jacobs is also an accomplished pianist, and he recently composed and recorded his first song.

Jacobs credits former VCHS music teacher Rick Ragan for helping him discover his voice. “I will always be grateful to him for pushing me out of my comfort zone,” says Jacobs of Ragan. As he continues his vocal studies in Denver, he will stick with local pianist Peter Vavra for his piano studies.

“My piano teacher (Vavra) has said that everyone wants you to do what they want to do. They will try to tell you what is right and wrong, but you should take everything said with a grain of salt and follow your own passions,” says Jacobs of Vavra’s advice, calling it the best advice he’s ever heard.

In turn, Vavra says that Jacobs is an extremely talented young man. “He’s incredibly versatile — Galen is really smart and his singing and acting is incredible,” Vavra said. “He works very well under pressure to reach the necessary goals.”

At VCHS, Jacobs played football his freshman year, but then dropped sports to devote more time to his music. He stayed connected to football by announcing at games. Jacobs also keeps his 3.8 GPA on course, and currently has seven piano students in the Edwards area. He insists that VCHS was the best fit for him, even though at first he resisted the idea of attending school there.

“To be honest, my parents chose it for me,” Jacobs says of the school. “I was a little upset at first, but now I am glad they did. I can’t imagine going to high school anywhere else!” Jacobs adds that along with the students and teachers, the location (mid-valley) attracts people from both ends of the valley. Jacobs lives just west of Eagle.

“The small size also brings out everyone’s strengths and maximizes each student’s talents,” he explains.

Jacobs grew up listening to music. His parents, R.G. and Eileen sang and played at the St. Clare’s school mass, and 16-year-old sister Meghan also plays the piano and has a beautiful soprano voice. His dad also played in the Ohio State Marching Band and has a great voice and ear for music. Jacobs’ favorite music includes oldies, rock, Broadway tunes, some classical and some country. That makes sense when he rattles off his favorite songs…”I have many, but some are Wild World, Crocodile Rock, Take it on the Run, It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, Hold the Line, Dancing in the Moonlight, We Belong, Me Love, Luckiest, and Brown-Eyed Girl.”

It’s the performances that seal the deal for Jacobs. “There is no better feeling than when you are performing and you can feel that the audience is enjoying and connecting to you and feeling the emotion in the song. It creates a great vibe,” he smiles, and says that his fondest memory is performing in Les Miserables. “It was such a great experience and the energy from the crowd during the epilogue was an indescribable feeling,” he remembers, but also recounts what happened the next morning, at the Star Quest talent show. “I was still excited about how well the show went – and pretty delirious,” Jacob says. “I had prepared to play and sing Tiny Dancer by Elton John. I went up to perform and my mind just went blank! I could not get past the first note on the piano,” Jacobs smiles. “I’ve heard most performers have at least one bad experience like this on stage so, in a way, I’m glad I got mine out of the way.”

A sports enthusiast, Jacobs is looking most forward to the professional games near his University, including the Colorado Rockies, Colorado Avalanche and Denver Broncos. And he also has a little of his own advice to dispense to upcoming high school freshmen, who want to pursue the same path in music. “Start developing your repertoire by your freshman/sophomore year. You should enjoy your music and be happy with how you sound long before you go to auditions.,” advises Jacobs. “Senior year can be very stressful and if you plan on auditioning for a school of music it will be very helpful if you have all of your requirements filled.” That, from a guy who knows.


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