The stage lights turn on and everyone takes their seat and adjusts their stand; the moment is finally here. We raise our instruments and take our first deep breath; everyone hears our director’s mantra in their head, “one, two…breathe…” Currently, we’re warming-up, but the pressure is on, and everyone’s aware of it; this is just the beginning. Our picture is taken and the warm-up is done; it is time to perform. We had finally made it to the 2012 Music for All National Concert Band Festival.
This year, my band, the Union High School Wind Ensemble, was chosen to perform at the prestigious band festival in Indianapolis, Indiana.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Only fourteen bands in the nation were chosen to attend this March event. We played for some of the toughest adjudicators and heard many exceptional ensembles. After performing in Indianapolis, I learned it is best to view disappointing moments from a larger perspective and that hard work and dedication can lead to the greatest of feats.
Our band dedicated countless hours before the school year, after school, and during the weekends to rehearsing. Every little detail was mulled over, corrected, and played until it was flawless. Our band director chose difficult songs, wanting to push us to our absolute limit, yet expected nothing less than perfection. At times I would become frustrated with the music; I would practice a run repeatedly, but never quite get it down. However, we rehearsed rigorously in hopes that it would pay off in the end. By the time we reached the performance, we were filled with nervousness and excitement. We began our first piece, National Game, and had our best performance of the year.
With one down, we dove into our next two pieces then reached the daunting Molly On the Shore; a piece in which I had a small part that I played with my section leader. The part was simple and easy, but when it came time for me to play everything was off. My breathing, tone, and intonation were all poor. It was not noticeable in the recording, but I continued to feel downcast. How could I mess up something so simple? In the end, I realized that I needed to look at the situation from a different perspective. I could not let one, ten measure part ruin the whole experience for me. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to do so would be a monumental mistake. Instead, I should focus on our overall performance and what I excelled at personally.
Reflecting on the performance, I became aware of how our hard work and dedication led us to giving the best performance of our high school careers. Not once during our 45-minute set did we tire out. Our stoic, and somewhat intimidating, band director cried after we played. The adjudicators were so impressed they left their desks to congratulate our director on his outstanding achievements. In short, we achieved everything we wanted and more. I learned that working to be the best one can be will reap benefits and pay off in the end. No one can take that feeling of gratification away.
Traveling and playing at the national concert band festival was the most educational and rewarding trip I have taken. The stress, nerves, and exhilaration I felt depicted the many emotions felt. I determined that frustrating moments cannot define an experience and learned about the honors of dedication. As we finished the last measure of our program, the realization struck me, we had done it.