Entering Musicianship

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

When asked how to get to Carnegie Hall, a wise musician replied simply, “Practice.” Although I did plenty of practicing leading up to playing at Carnegie Hall, it was performing in New York that launched me towards true musicianship. The first time I really saw beauty in music was on that stage, getting to share my work of the past year with an audience. The sheer size and organic atmosphere of music in the Hall changed my approach to music from just going through the motions into a thinker, an analyzer, and a musician.I can clearly remember a time when music was not a part of my life. I can remember sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car and asking about good music, cool music, and what they used to listen to. Music was a body of information I knew nothing about, almost as foreign as a new language to me. I can remember sifting through old records in my basement, from Led Zeppelin to Simon and Garfunkel. This was my first exposure to the world of music. I was hearing songs without really listening and grasping at their roots.Along with nearly all my friends, I was thrown into band class in the sixth grade. I stuck with music all through middle school, on trombone, baritone, and tuba, but never really considered myself a “musician,” just a player of music, along for the ride. Out on stage, I was a scared little kid. I was stuck inside the boundaries of my knowledge, and knew nothing about being on stage.Coming into high school, I began playing the bass, but was still just going through the musical motions. This new instrument presented a new challenge and renewed my interest, but even still, I was all too often lost among the jumbled lines on my sheets and rarely looked at the conductor for guidance while playing. My uncertainty and clumsiness on the bass only heightened my nervous tendencies leading up to our school concerts. To say the least, as the last chair of many basses I never even dreamed of playing outside of the high school, much less a world-renowned hall.The first I heard of the Carnegie Hall performance was in the beginning of the next year, tenth grade. This year was soon packed with after school sectionals, Saturday practices, and playing tests. I grew more in musicianship through this constant exposure than almost any other time, I can still recall the melodies from Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings after playing them so many times. While I became a better player through this endless practice, the greatest shift into musicianship came from the Carnegie performance itself. Sitting on stage in New York was the first time I listened to music, rather than just hearing its notes. The sights and sounds of the hall shifted my frame of reference, practice turned from a chore to a daily opportunity for self-betterment and performing from a fear to a thrill.Today, I look for every opportunity to play. I am part of what my parents say is too many performance groups and what I say is too few. Everything deserves to be recreated, from Mozart in Youth Symphony to James Brown in my funk band, and their notes are worth learning. I am no longer confined by the boundaries of my knowledge, but inspired by the unknown. Every new piece and phrase is an opportunity rather than a limit. The challenge and opportunity that Carnegie Hall put in my head gave me the desire to move from childhood as a player of music to adulthood as a musician.

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