Music is my passion—having been a flute player for eight years as well as a member of an orchestra or band for six, my ongoing adventure into more advanced musical compositions is a source of great joy in my life. My orchestra director ceaselessly searches for challenging pieces, those that will challenge even the best players in the orchestra.
When I started playing the flute in second grade, I did not know that I would soon fall in love with its shape, its tonal quality, and its intricacies. I started taking lessons simply because my cousin, then in eighth grade, had played the flute. My flute teacher was a passionate flute player; she always came to class ready to teach, ready to spark the expressiveness and emotion in my playing. My mother, who was not very knowledgeable about music at first, became more and more interested in the flute as my playing improved over time. Through the years, she has been a great source of support and inspiration. Thanks to my teacher and my mother, it was only a matter of time before I became a somewhat acknowledged flutist (at least in my school and in my community).
Before fifth grade, the only ensembles I had been a part of were relatively small, typically composed of me playing the flute and my teacher as my piano accompanist. When I first started playing in a band (wind ensemble) in fifth grade, I did not understand the importance of listening to the other sections, nor did I think about balance and harmony among all of the instruments in the band. Many of my fellow classmates also struggled with this issue.
It was in sixth grade that I finally began to understand the importance of playing as a group, as a bigger ensemble. I was chosen by the band director to be the principal flutist of the band—it was my first-ever major “responsibility,” and I felt the necessity to take on leadership of the band. I started paying attention to the sound of the band as a whole rather than to my own sound or to the sounds of those students sitting very close to me. Band became a team effort for me and my classmates, and I felt immensely proud to be a part of this talented group and to play a key role in its success.
This experience of being a part of an ensemble was what really triggered my love for the flute. I fell in love with the way in which my instrument’s sound could not blend in so beautifully with the other wind and brass instruments, as well as how it shone in certain arrangements when it played a prominent role or was a featured solo. Performing with ensembles has certainly been a way for me to communicate with those who share similar musical interests and capabilities.
Although I am not planning to become a professional musician, I believe that playing music has helped me in many other areas. First, it has helped me to increase my concentration span. When I first started playing the flute, I had a difficult time sitting down and practicing for a good hour—the longest I could rehearse for alone was about fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes of practicing, I would have to look at my phone, talk to my mother, or daydream about something else. However, the more I practiced with my teacher, and the more challenging my pieces became, the more I realized the need for practicing for longer periods of time. Now, I can practice alone for two hours straight without stopping or getting distracted—I bet I could practice even longer if I had the time to do so. This has not only enhanced my skills on the flute, but also has enhanced my concentration span for studying and completing homework. After my concentration span on the flute became longer, I noticed that I could sit in my chair in my room and study for longer periods of time than I could before.
Second, I overcame my stage fright. When I was younger, I had a terrible fear of being on stage, and performing on stage. However, when I first learned to play the flute, my mother forced me to perform at my school’s annual talent show. I was forced to go up there on stage with my flute teacher and perform. During one of my first experiences on stage, I could not see anything nor hear anything. Even before I got on stage, I was trembling in fear and anxiety, and was perspiring. As I climbed up onto the stage and faced the monstrous crowd all staring at me, the strength in my legs was gone and I felt the urgent need to cry. Yet, I was standing in front of all my classmates and their parents—I could not embarrass myself now. I could not let my mother down. She had worked so hard to persuade me to stand up on this stage, to practice, to dress up. I could not let my flute teacher down, who had worked so hard to ensure that I had perfected the piece, that I knew how to expressively perform this piece. So, I mustered up all the courage left from every little part of my body and played the flute. No, I cannot remember whether I did a good job, or whether I was able to perform as well as I had rehearsed the piece. However, I knew I had not let my mother or my flute teacher down because I had successfully played without crying, without running offstage in the middle of the performance. That is what really mattered.