I watch the stage lights illuminate the musicians, poised to play as they hold the brass, wind, or string instruments. Softly, two chords pulsate through the air in a waltz style. Ba, dum dum … ba, dum dum … the chord is rich during the ba’s before melting away. Then, almost as if in agony, a passionate violin solo swells above the sea of chords, leading the brass and finally the rest of the orchestra into a crescendo of melody that leaves me awed and nostalgic. It is classical, full-orchestra music like this that I love, and through years of playing the cello in orchestra, I have grown to appreciate the complexities in the music and have been fortunate enough to play some great music as well.
Orchestra gives me almost a second home in high school. I build lasting friendships with fellow bright, caring, and trustworthy musicians. I am able to use the orchestra room as a hangout, even a refuge away from school, a place to talk to friends or eat lunch. Some of my most memorable moments from orchestra simply come from the witty banter of friends, and I could just relax and be myself. Orchestra to me is more than a club; all the members have the common goal of working together to produce not just technically sound music, but music that is emotionally stirring. With the help of our director we had the mindset to go beyond rhythm, pitch, and technicalities and delve into the expression of dynamics and passion as a balanced, cohesive unit. In Chamber and Region orchestra I had the opportunity to play many difficult, but rewarding pieces by famous composers. I had experience playing the fury of Tchaikovsky and the buoyancy of Bach; the power of Dvorak or Grieg and the melancholy of Mahler. I played them all and enjoyed every minute of it. Finally, in orchestra I have also learned how to practice. I learned how to sit down and learn a difficult passage by working with intense focus and attention to detail until it was memorized in my fingers. The reward of an amazing performance or the ability to play something so easily I wouldn’t have to think made the hard work worth it.
But you may be wondering, “Who cares? Why are you writing about yourself?” Well, I believe that everyone should have or has had a similar experience in high school, and that is what the essence of high school is: being able to connect to friends, being able to find a place to fit in and feel comfortable and natural. Whether it is with the football team, enduring long hours of practice and training, fighting through conditioning sprints and strength training; whether it is on the math team working together to place in UIL; from playing games in the library before school to hanging out with friends after Fillie practice; from going on Student Council trips to the elementary school to eating lunch in the golf room; we all have our way of enjoying school, and school should be enjoyable. While academic and educational enrichment are the reasons for school, I believe social and extra-curricular experiences are important as well.
Thus, I am passionate about orchestra for so many reasons. I can see how music can affect people, how it can console and sympathize or enliven and rejuvenate. I learned how practice can be worth it with the satisfaction of a performance. And finally, I can look to the future, whether I continue with orchestra or not, I can still benefit from all the things orchestra has given me: friendships, work ethic, and musical appreciation, especially. I can still admire those musicians who love the music more than I do while I sit back and feel the pulse of the two chords, waiting for that haunting violin solo to rise above the harmonies and remind me of my times in Denton High Orchestra.