Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Number 4

Have you ever heared something so beautiful you were encouraged to recreate that sound? That happens to me all the time and I think it's the basis of my success as playing trumpet. When I was at the end of fourth grade I heard a beautiful saxophone sound echoing throughout the local mall. It was the first time I had ever heard a professional instrumentalist that caught my attention. Kenny G was my first inspiration to make music.

Later that week, I went through "instrument tryouts" for our 5th grade band. I knew as soon as I got there I was going to be bringing home the instrument that would lead me to Kenny G's success! But I was wrong! Turns out, I couldn't even get a noise out of the saxophone. That's when I decided to test out the trumpet.

My first years playing were at Mills Lawn Elementary School. It was a very small school. As beginning students, it was our decision to play in either the orchestra or the band. But, either way, you were guaranteed to be the only one in your grade, on your instrument.

Competition between instruments took place on a grade level. As a fifth grader, I couldn't wait to play with the 6th graders and show off my talent. My brother was a 6th grade trombonist and he kept me "updated" with the latest repitore. I remember practicing "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" several hundred times with my brother in the freezing cold garage before a 6th grade rehersal and then showing up the 6th grade trumpet player. At Mills Lawn, you were pushed to learn your part inside out and always play at your personal best. The individual attention I received at Mills Lawn encouraged me to do just that!

A move in the family eventually caused for transferring schools. Attending Indian Valley Middle School posed a drastic change for me. There were 4 different 5th grade bands! Each with 10 or more playing trumpet. But, because of such advanced playing at Mills Lawn I was still able to outplay them all! In fact, I still remember a particular instance when my mom and I met the director before my first day there. My mom tried to explain to him that I was more advanced than what their band was. He took it as an insult and came back in her face with the explanation that all parents think their child is better than the rest. After my first day playing with the band my mother got a phone call from my director apologizing for not listening and being so rude.

I'm almost certain I didn't improve much as a musician at Indian Valley because I never had any one to compete with, or any beautiful sounds to imitate.Throughout my 3.5 years there, students expierenced three different changes in directors. Many students dropped out because the couldnt rely on the stablilty of the music department or because they just weren't inspired. My parents were the only reason I myself, made it to high school band.

Wow! My first day of high school band camp was so impressive! I arrived and chairs had been marked off as a result of the auditions earlier that week. I walked along the back looking for my chair. It wasn't anywhere around my freshman friends! I must have looked confused because my band director approached me and took me to my chair. I was sitting 2nd chair next to the junior section leader! I remember his words exactly as I sat next to him, "So you're the girl who sits here? We'll don't get your hopes up.... your first chance at section leader won't be until your senior year when all of the upperclassmen have filtered out!" Typical statement of a trumpet player. It didn't bring me down though, I had work to do... there was someone better than me. I had a challenge!

I worked very hard that year and it paid off. The audition results were posted at the beginning of the next year. I had outdone every trumpet player in every ensemble in high school. It seemed great... until I realized I no longer had challenge. For the majority of the rest of high school, I did the minimal work to keep my spot as a section leader.

My senior year was the only exception. I had to work harder, practice more, join ensembles outside of high school, take extra music classes... all because I wanted to "spice my application up," as my high school guidance counslor said. My college selection process wasn't hard at all. I applied and auditioned at one school, DePauw, and here I am today.

Over my 8 years of playing, I don't feel as if I got the musical expierence every child deserves to have. My fellow students and I had five different band directors. I witnessed many students dropping music because of poor instruction and lack of dedication. It is now my desire to improve instruction in districts where music is a crumbling subject. The arts are an important part of elementary, middle and high school curriculum. Students at least a teacher who cares! And furthermore, as I attend my music classes first semester, I'm discovering just how unprepared I was academically. I now have another purpose besides giving dedication. I want to give every effort to help students learn, advance, and prepare themselves for college.


At 10/29/2006 11:50 PM, Blogger Renee said...

Renee, I think you sound kind of cocky. But I have no suggestions as to how you should fix it. Maybe someone else will have some insight. But seeing as to how you posted this at 11:16, I doubt you will receive to much feedback.

At 10/29/2006 11:51 PM, Blogger Renee said...

i cant believe i just posted on my own blog... how nerdy... I must be pretty dang tired

At 10/30/2006 12:23 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Renee, I agree. I have been commenting on these autobiographies for weeks and I am at a loss for what to say.


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