When Band was my Life

School was never my forte. Sure, by the time I was in college I actually enjoyed going to class (at least the afternoon ones) and I have always loved furthering my education on various topics, but let’s be honest here: middle and high school is vicious. I remember so many days when I was in middle school that I would call home because I was “sick” and could not possibly make it through the day. While I wasn’t actually sick I just could not bare the thought of staying in school all day when there were way more important things I could be doing. By the end of 6th grade I decided I would join band the next year because my best friend Becca was joining band and it sounded fun!

My life in music actually started early on when I was probably a toddler. The church I grew up in taught us how to play the xylophone and of course we sang many songs. I still remember that being something I throughly enjoyed when I was young. In 5th grade we learned how to play the most obnoxious instrument around: the infamous recorder. So when the opportunity came to do something musical in school again, plus my best friend was doing it so it obviously meant it was cool, I had to join. We had to take an instrument assessment test and I was stuck with the clarinet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I was super excited to be in band, but playing the clarinet was not at the top of my list for the instrument I truly wanted to play. Trumpet was my dream instrument and while I happily sat and played clarinet rather well, I insisted on playing trumpet the following year. I started practicing on my friends trumpet and begged my band director to let me play it. Mrs. Wise sure enough allowed me to switch over and I absolutely loved it!

In 9th grade I joined the marching band. Up until then I had sat in the cool air and the warm heat to learn scales, how to tune my instrument, how to play as an ensemble, amongst many other things. Marching band was a completely different ball game. Rehearsal after rehearsal we ran drill and played our memorized music for the upcoming competitions where we wanted nothing more than to make awesome memories and come out on top of all of the other marching ensembles.

Winning was not the only awesome thing about being in marching band, learning important life lessons were also right up there at the top of the list. For instance, how to pack lightly for day and weekend trips, communicating, listening to directions, being a leader, and many other things. After marching band was over I found my musical instrument calling and fell in love at first sight with french horn.

My second semester, and the rest of my high school playing years and part of college, were dedicated to the horn. I nervously, and happily, sat first chair in the Wind Ensemble my second semester of high school, which was a huge deal because freshman were rarely allowed in wind ensemble! I auditioned and placed at several honors bands throughout high school, with UNC Greensboro being my absolute top and favorite honors band that I would go back to in a heartbeat. I hadn’t even played the horn for a year and sat first chair over All-State players my sophomore year!!! Talk about nerve wrecking and exciting all in one.

If I could go back in time and relive my whole music experience I would. While I graduated high school and was happily accepted into the music program at Western Carolina University and loved the whole experience, it was never the same as what I experienced in middle and high school band. I had thought after becoming drum major in high school that my passion in life was to be a music teacher. I loved teaching the underclassmen and the rookies while I was drum major, but if I learned any major life lessons in college it was that music is my passion and I truly believe that my passion for music was never meant to be my career in life.

While I am still trying to figure out what I want to be in life, I truly do miss being involved with music. One of my favorite terms from high school band that Mr. Stamey taught us is something that I will never forget: PRIDE. When life gets too busy and hectic I still to this day will randomly remind myself of this word and the meaning behind it: passion, respect, intensity, dedication, and emotion. PRIDE is something that is forever part of who I am because of the amazing organization I was able to be a part of.

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