Big is a trumpet player – she blows horn.
She listens to music and you can watch her fingers hit invisible trumpet keys on her other hand.
The channel she begs for on the car radio is 1940’s music.
She falls asleep to Dizzy Gillespie, Satchmo, and sometimes Doc.
She has seen Doc Severinsen in person.
The highlight of year was getting to speak to Doc after his concert.
The Ranger took her.
He didn’t get a picture.
The Ranger ordered her first trumpet when she was six months old.
He had high hopes.
When Big started band last year (6th grade) we held our breath.
We’ve tried to be open about instrument choices.
She thought about the oboe, clarinet, flute and trombone before she settled on the trumpet.
She could probably have played any of them, but she has a passion for the trumpet.
Big has to work at it, but she is getting better. She no longer sounds like a sick caribou!
This year she is stretching her blowing skills. This year she tried out for All West Jr. Band.
Her band teacher told us that she would probably put in hours and hours of practice, but would be unlikely to make it.
Her teacher wasn’t being mean. She’s very nice!
Her teacher wasn’t telling us that Big lacked the ability. She is very supportive!
Her teacher was being realistic. The reality is that All West Jr. Band is made up of middle school students from the Western half of Tennessee. There are hundreds of students auditioning for a limited number of seats. Most students who pass the audition are in the 8th and 9th grade. They have more years of practice behind them. They have the experience of auditioning and not making it behind them.
The decision to try out for All West was Big’s.
She has band class five days a week. She went to more after school practices than I can count!
She walked around breathing through a plastic tube (kind of like a scuba diver) for the last week!
But it hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows.
Big is at the age of drama! Very little comes without some drama of some sort. This was no exception!
The girl growled! She sobbed! She screamed and threw tantrums!
Over an A-flat. Over an E-scale. Over the unfairness of the chromatic scale! Over a trumpet that just doesn’t play right!
It got to a point that we considered withdrawing her. (Sometimes things just aren’t worth the drama and we like to choose our battles)
Big is all about being the best, perfect, WINNING! (Surprisingly, she’s not an athlete). And, All West was not something she was going to be the best at.
“What is the point of doing this if I’m not going to get in?!” she growled at me one night.
My explanation, “Sometimes it isn’t about winning or being the best. Sometimes it’s about just doing, the experience of it.”
She looked doubtful.
She went through with it.
I’m so proud of her!
I thought she was going to puke! (Everybody should experience being so nervous they think they’re going to hurl at least once in their life)
We drove the two hours to the audition site. We were early.
She warmed up and practiced for over an hour before it was her turn.
At one point I thought she was going to make a run for the door! I could see her chin wobble, she was close to tears, and she looked ready to bolt!
I took her hands in mine, made her look me in the eye and told her, “Nothing that happens in that room will determine how your life turns out. It is a room, with people behind a screen, who are going to listen to you play your music.”
It must have inspired her, because she nodded, grabbed her music and said, “Let’s go.”
We checked in, and I watched her turn the corner toward the rooms where the auditions were being held. I could finally let MY nerves go!
Would she hit those high notes that give her grief? Would she remember her scales?
Would her trumpet “stop playing?”
Ten minutes later she was back, visibly relaxed.
“How did it go?” I asked.
“I did AWESOME, Mom! I played everything they asked, I hit all my tones and notes, I’m really happy with how I did even though I really don’t think I made the band.” she answered with a huge grin on her face.
Earlier in the day I had asked her what her greatest fear was, her answer, “Not playing as well as I know I can and them kicking me out before I’m done.” I then asked her if she was going to be upset if she didn’t make it into the band (I wanted to be prepared) and her reply surprised me, “No way! Do you know how many extra practices you have to do for that!” So, it was the best of both worlds for her – on one hand she wanted to play well, on the other hand she really didn’t want to be in the All West Jr. Band. (Sorry Ms. Presson!)
She may not realize the benefit of this experience yet, but someday I hope she looks back and thinks about how she undertook an “impossible” task and saw it through knowing that her best may not be good enough – strength & bravery, that she saw it through – integrity, and that she practiced and practiced and practiced until it stuck- perseverence.
Did I mention how proud I am of her?