Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One of the nifty perks of blogging is all the equally nifty people you get to meet along the way.  Tuba Girl is a high school senior who I've been lucky enough to stumble across - and yea, she's a girl tuba player.  HARD CORE!  She's about to graduate and major in music, which I find oh-so-interesting since I have been wondering what motivates a kid to want to continue music.  I thought she'd have the perfect perspective for a parent like me, and she was willing to share her thoughts with y'all too!  Thanks Tuba Girl!!

Hi everyone! Tuba.girl here. I'm your typical teenage girl, a senior in high school in a little place in the middle of nowhere, and I play a predominantly male instrument. As you can infer, that would be the tuba. I started playing music on the piano when I was six. When I was in 5th grade I picked up the trombone and the clarinet and played both for about 4 years. And then I quit. I'm not sure why- probably because I was stressed out, but either way, I went into high school without band and/or choir to "bog me down" (because heavens knows they are SO HARD to pass *note the sarcasm in my typing). Instead I took a Piano for Beginners class, taught by the band teacher, for an easy "A".

I know, a diabolical plan right? Well, it backfired. Tenth grade was a tough time for me. I partially forget why (those were some dark days), but, in the midst of it all my band teacher decided to offer me a chance to play the tuba (of all instruments? He was pretty desperate). So I agreed, halfheartedly, but still.

Picking up the tuba was tough. From how the band teacher told, I thought I was set in stone from the beginning because of my trombone backround. Well, I was wrong. It took me about a month to be able to actually play out of it, then another month to learn the most basic scale. After that I gradually was able to play some simple music- mostly in the middle register, and even then it wasn't so great. At the end of my sophomore year, my band teacher deemed me "good enough" to be in graduation wind ensemble with my new tuba buddy (who, incidentally, keyed the phrase 'tuba girl' and is now a sophomore music education major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and on music scholarships too). It was with my tuba buddy that I learned to love and enjoy the instrument that is the tuba. It's a weird contraption, really. I mean, it's a cylindrical tube that opens to the sky. But it makes the nicest sounds when played correctly. 

My junior year in high school I decided that I wanted to make music a permanent part of my life. After much research and praying I came to the conclusion that I wanted to major in Music Therapy. From there I took all the necessary steps including talking to music professors and even taking private music lessons (*Gasp!) From terrible past experiences with private music lessons (another reason why I stopped playing the clarinet) I was suprised to find that my new tuba teacher was very friendly and personable. I loved going to lessons, which were coincidentally 45 minutes away from my house, and my playing took off. Before starting with him my audition score in my band class was 79 (and a merciful 79 at that- my band teacher was probably just being nice) and then after, at the begining of my senior year of high school it went to an incredibly competetitive 90. It made all the difference in the world.

In addition to starting lessons, my tuba buddy convinced me to audition for district band. In our district, the competition is pretty steep. I was up against 40 other tuba's for 8 spots. But you know what? I made it! And what made it even better? I made it dead last. 8th chair tuba. But you know what else? 8th chair was better than no chair at all. And so I worked my rear end off on my regional music. I didn't make it in, but the entire district band experience gave me so much more than what I could have ever thought.

The Saturday after my district band performance I auditioned at my first choice college (at the time). That too was a nervewracking, but rewarding experience. I learned two weeks later that they wanted to offer me a $16,000 music scholarship ($4,000 a year) and a spot in the music therapy department. I hastily accepted it. I wanted to go to that college very badly and felt for sure that I was going there.

And then, this past March, they sent me a financial aide package in the which they told me that I had to come up with $17,000 a year. Yeah freakin' right. There was no way I would pay that much for an undergrad degree. So I dropped it like a hot potato and went on a frantic search. On this search I found that pretty much every other college that offered a music therapy degree was just as expensive. I was frustrated and fell out of love with every single college that I had previously been interested in, but I still loved the tuba, and that's what kept me going.

In the end (as in, this past month) I decided to apply to a church college of mine, BYU-Idaho. I was late for the fall 'track' application, so I applied for the winter 'track' and was accepted to the college shortly thereafter. I will be entering a Musical Arts degree when I get there and hope to audition after two semesters of prerequisite courses. The future holds many musical things for me and I can't wait!

So what's the moral of my story?

Kids, stick with it. If music is what you love to do, then go for it. Two years ago I would have never in a million years thought it were possible for me to be able to make it into a music program in college, yet here I am. Dream big, reach for the stars, there are no limits to what you can do. I believe in you. And when you believe in yourself, that's when you become unstoppable.

Parents, us poor music students wouldn't be able to do it without you! I'm lazy. I hate practicing. I'm often less motivated to play than I am to watch TV. But my parents, though never forcing me to do anything, always encouraged me to do more, practice more. Mom used to tell me that I had a "God given gift" and then told me to repent once when I complained about not being good enough. That was a real wake up call for me. I doubt she remembers that, but I do, very clearly, and I have never complained about it since. Parents, you have so much influence over us. We love you. We listen to you. Don't give up on us.

And teachers, you have a golden opportunity to share your light. I would have never started on the tuba without the offer my band teacher gave to me. It wouldn't have even crossed my mind. And my private teacher (*sigh). He has gotten on my back about so many things- not practicing (that's a biggy), "what? can't you count?!" (also a biggy), not showing up for lessons on time, not showing up for lessons at all, not remembering the assignment he gave to me last week, forgetting to look up something online for him, forgetting my solo book at home, purposefully ignoring the double-tongueing exercises he gave me (ugh. those were nasty), and the list goes on and on and on. But he has always been positive, always been supportive, always been understanding and caring. Teachers have a gift for that I think, strict yet lenient. I still haven't figured out how they do it. And trust me when I say this. No matter how much we ignore and complain there is a part of us, no matter how small, that just wants to please you. Be patient with us. We look up to you and admire you for the musicians that you are and hope that we can become, someday, just like you.

And that, my friends, old and new, is the end of my random thought.

=D tuba.girl

1 comment:

Floyd said...

Hurray for guest posts and Tubas.

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