Finding Her Voice
Independent study helps Ainsley Wilburn ’22 get into her dream college program.
For as long as she can remember, Ainsley Wilburn ’22 has loved to sing. Her parents put her in voice lessons, and before coming to Pomfret, she was part of a homeschool program focused on music. During the Covid pandemic, Ainsley found herself singing in her bedroom in Dallas, Texas, and discovered a new way to express herself — through writing songs.
“Writing my own songs is a way for me to convey my thoughts in a way that I feel most comfortable,” says Ainsley. “It is so much easier to say what I want to say when I write it as a song.”
In April, Ainsley learned that this fall she will have the opportunity to continue her passion for singing and learn more about songwriting when she starts at Belmont University — one of the most prestigious music and music business schools in the world. The school provides world-class instruction in the entertainment fields. Students who have graduated from the program have won Grammys and written for record labels.
When Ainsley started at Pomfret as a junior in the fall of 2020, she became a member of the GriffTones and performed at two socially distance concerts. During the winter term spent distance learning at home, she returned to her keyboard and continued to express herself through song. “I love using my gift in a way that pleases the Lord," says Ainsley. “That's what my parents have been telling me to do since I was little.”
While she was at home, Ainsley began looking into colleges. In addition to music, she also considered studying elementary education, business, and social media marketing. Together with her parents, she discovered the songwriting program at Belmont University and knew that it was her top choice and the path she wanted to pursue.
To be accepted into the songwriting program at Belmont, Ainsley had to submit a short video portfolio of two original songs. After a busy fall senior term, Ainsley knew she needed to focus on her portfolio to get into the program of her dreams. Lauren Griffin, assistant director of learning support, suggested that she pursue an independent study to dedicate time to work on her original songs and personal narrative.
As a part of her independent study, Ainsley reviewed her songs and received feedback from Dr. Ryan Burns, director of music. She spent numerous hours revising her lyrics and chords about friendships and relationships. At the conclusion of the winter term, she filmed and submitted her portfolio — completing her application.
All the hard work in her independent study had paid off when she was accepted into the songwriting program at Belmont, located in the heart of Nashville — Music City. Ainsley is excited to return to the south and the warmer weather. “It feels like home. I’m excited to meet a wide variety of people. I think it will be a really cool experience.”
As for her goals after graduating from Belmont, Ainsley wants to be the next Ariana Grande or Taylor Swift but is dedicated to protecting her love of singing. “If singing ever began to feel like a job rather than I passion, I would turn to my Plan B — to be on the sidelines instead of center stage — and become a music agent or go into entertainment law."
Wherever Ainsley’s path takes her, we can’t wait to hear about her success.