In October, Jerica and other members of her High School orchestra received study guides and CDs for the Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest. The teams of three then competed at Regionals at the end of January. Their team tied for 2nd place there and needed to have a tie breaker with another team. The tie breaker is another "Mystery Round," naming the composers that are in the study guide. It took them a while to get it, but on the sixth or seventh try, Jerica recognized it. The selection was from a 20th century mass. She knew this because the words were from the Ordinary, and it was obviously 20th century. It must have been part of the work that is in the study guide, Brubeck's To Hope! A Celebration, and Jerica knew it. So they got out of there with a trophy and were on their way to State in two weeks! (If you don't understand this, it's okay. The important thing is that you know Jerica's team is going to State.)
Jerica and her team studied real hard those next few weeks. And finally the day came that they were on their way. After the banquet held for the participants, the contest went on. Jerica's team did all right. They did make a few spelling errors. The contest ended with the scores like this (out of 100): 1 team with 98 pts, 3 teams with 95 pts, 3 teams with 94 pts, and so on. Jerica's team got 94 points, so didn't even end up in 3rd. A tie breaker for the 95s was done, and the first one to get it right went on to the college bowl section of the contest with the team with 98 points. The college bowl round is just like you would expect. Buzzers, questions, and time limits. The winner of this round is the winner of the contest, regardless of the points earned previously.
Well, the aftermath of the Music Listening Contest is a lot greater than you would expect. No more studying, no more memorizing dates, no more study sessions. Sound typical, uh? Well, that is not the case for Jerica (she is not typical). She is deeply grieved by this great loss. What is she to do with her life? Thank you, Mom, she is now writing every bit of information on a song she hears on MPR in a little notebook. "It's not really over," she says, "it's just taking an eight month vacation. But I can't vacation. I've got to stay fresh for next year." No matter the time, Jerica is listening to the greatest kind of music in the world on the radio, and memorizing seemingly useless information.