Music can play such a important role in life, but can it help teach life lessons? Find out how music gave CDA student Abby Weatherford a thankful heart.
As I carried my French horn to the first day of Beginning Band class, when I was in seventh grade, I had no idea how important music would become to me. I had joined band for no particular reason; if anything, I was drawn by the intrinsically captivating quality that any new activity seems to possess. In the following years, I learned to play, read, and listen critically to music. In this time, band did not have one significant impact on my life. Rather, as a constant in my life for the last six years, band has slowly shaped my character on both an academic and practical level.
At times, I struggle to articulate why music has become so enjoyable for me. There is simply something magical about filling a room with beautiful, yet intangible, sound; an ethereal quality that defies a quantitative explanation. I will never forget playing “Othello” by Alfred Reed at All-State Band in my junior year, depicting a haunting story through sound alone. Crafting this sound is a uniquely personal task, in which every role is important.
As first chair, I can lead the section through complex passages, defining the overall tone of the piece. As last chair, I can develop moving harmonies which temper the bright melodic song. These nuances of composition are truly what drives my love for music.
However, I have developed much more than an appreciation for music through my time in band. Through the commitments of band, I have certainly become more responsible. For six years, I have had to arrive at rehearsals and performances on time, take care of my French horn, and bring a pencil (or five) to every band class.
When I perform in an ensemble, I must be prepared. The responsibility that I have developed through band has proven useful on many occasions. Likewise, my time-management skills have improved through involvement in band. Simply put, practicing is nonnegotiable. Wind instruments require a strong embouchure, a certain set of muscles that can only be developed through daily practice.
If one arrives at rehearsal under-practiced, it soon becomes painfully obvious. However, I often find myself juggling the demands of academics and sports in addition to band. Thus, I have to manage my time—through timers, schedules, and a fabulous color-coding system—to accomplish all of my tasks.
At times, band has truly challenged me. I distinctly remember first seeing the audition music for All-State Band in my freshman year—in retrospect, it really is amazing that one page of music can cause so much terror in a single student. But my teachers and peers challenged me to work on the music. Measure-by-measure, I worked through it. Several months later, I could play the piece start to finish.
Through that challenge, I learned to take any difficult situation a little bit at a time. This past summer, I have applied this principle to learn a new instrument—trumpet. Though my repertoire is currently limited to “Old MacDonald” and assorted scales, I thoroughly enjoy the challenge and the ability to develop new skills in the same branch of fine arts.
Yet, band is more than a fine arts elective. It is a place to belong, a place to make friends. One of my favorite parts of this class happens when I meet students from different grades. As I enter my senior year, I am grateful for the chance to know younger students who I would not ordinarily meet. With these fellow students, I have made many happy memories at All-State, Solo and Ensemble, Sandy Lake, and more.
Often, in the sea of academic expectations, it seems easy to discount band simply as a fifth period class that counts as a fine arts credit. But I believe that band plays a more important role. Band not only instills beneficial values, but also imparts the gift of music, which enriches a strong academic foundation. For while academia can explain the world, music can make it beautiful. Even if my years in band leave me only literate in this ability, I will always be grateful for the gift of music.