Passion (\ˈpa-shən\) (n.): a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept.
Some would describe my love of music as passion and others would call me a band geek. Either way, I have taken pride in my love and dedication to music for the past 14 years.
At the age of eight, I had the choice of playing flute or clarinet. I sat in the tiny 10-by-8 foot messy office of the band teacher and managed to get a sound out of the clarinet, but not the flute and had to argue with the teacher to let me play flute.
I struggled with learning how to play and became extremely frustrated. Every week, the flute players would meet for a lesson and each play the homework, but there was one time none of us could play the rhythm or notes correctly and our teacher laughed.
“I want to quit,” I told him. He told me I couldn’t.
Looking back on that day, I’m so thankful he didn’t let me quit.
In seventh grade, my band teacher recommended I start taking private flute lessons. Luckily for my parents and me, there was an excellent flute teacher in my neighborhood. After a few lessons, I realized that I had developed a love for the flute. Practicing became a daily routine and I developed a desire to read more music and reading difficult rhythms became easier.
However, the other students in my class realized that I was becoming obsessed with music and band in general, not to mention my band teacher favored me over others because I was dedicated and actually practiced. As a result, I was moved to first chair flute and was now dependent on playing everything with precision and in tune.
Before I entered high school, I had the opportunity to audition for the high school honors band, but did not get selected. However, the band teacher placed me in the upper-classmen ensemble, the symphonic band, while all of the other incoming freshmen were in the concert band.
This seemed to evoke jealousy from the other kids in my grade, but I brushed it off and continued to do what I did best. Unfortunately, I was made fun of for loving band so much. A couple of boys in my class picked on me and told me that I would be “one of those low-life musicians that play in the subway” if I were to pursue a career in music. These boys thought they were class clowns, so I threatened to shove a keyboard down their throats and the teacher encouraged me.
It wasn’t only loving band that got me the title of, “band geek,” but also marching band. There was nothing more thrilling than playing a field show during half time at a football game in our black, white and gold sparkly Michael Jackson-inspired uniforms.
But the band geek nonsense doesn’t stop there.
At the end of 10th grade, I auditioned for Nassau Suffolk Performing Arts (NSPA), an all-Long Island band. I was accepted into the concert band and found myself waking up before 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning to be at rehearsal for three hours.
I had grown so much as a musician; I was asked to play in numerous pit orchestras for the high school and middle school musical productions, I joined band council to help run some of the activities, I played in the pep band, I was asked to help out in the other bands, I got to perform at Carnegie Hall twice and I traveled to Spain to perform with my high school band.
When it came time to apply to colleges and decide my major, I realized that music was not the practical career path, so I decided to minor in it — continuing to learn, play and perform, which still gives me that “high on life” kind of feel.
What I’ve learned from all of this is to embrace yourself and who you are. I’m a band geek. Music has shaped me into the person I am today and I’m so grateful that I continue to make music each and every day.