Music’s Expanding Bubble

Using a quote as a jumping off point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values.

“No student ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him: it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.” –Charles Kendall Adams

I will not speak for all applicants, but as a child I loved blowing bubbles. Each pinkish-yellow ball frolicked in the breeze, flighty with girlish fancy. Closed, small, and naïve, those iridescent spheres paralleled my childhood.

Studiously diligent since ABC, my life revolved around school. ‘Fun’ meant recess, reading, or anything within asphalt schoolyards. It mattered little that peers elsewhere won awards or knew three languages; I complacently reveled in straight-As, never desiring challenges beyond homework. Regardless, in eighth grade I considered myself “accomplished” and “mature.” I had secured principal clarinet in band and hosted a sleepover. Back then, watching Shrek at midnight was cool.

Then I discovered Minnesota Band Directors’ Honor Band, an audition-only ensemble for middle-schoolers. Overconfident, I inadequately prepared my audition and placed fourteenth of fifteen, a failure. Embarrassed, I hid behind my stand during practice as my pride-bubble popped. “Honor Band was okay,” I reported to my director, thinking, “Not again!” and attempting to restore my shattered bubble.

But how to rebuild? I disliked large bubbles because they lacked daintiness; however, after Honor Band I needed expansion. Never, in my life’s narrow sphere, had I heard teenagers harmonize honey and silver while I squawked hubris. Outside Lakeville lived students with emulation-worthy talent; to equal them I must practice above the mandatory 150 minutes. Thus, I would develop my bubble by seizing out-of-school challenges, always seeking self-improvement.

Construction on Tina-Bubble 2.0 began in ninth grade with auditions for the next Honor Band. “Not again” became “Not second-to-last again,” through assiduous practice. Even my director noticed.

“Your intonation and phrasing have greatly improved,” he complimented.

“An hour a day keeps fourteenth chair away,” I quipped.

Weeks later, I completed my bubble with an acceptance letter and music labeled “Clarinet One.” Sight-reading through, I winced, “That’s hard music.”

My director smirked, “An hour a day maintains principal clarinet always.”

Time for Tina-Bubble 3.0.

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