youth playing in concert

My Best and Brightest Self

by Gloria C, age 16

In Band-Land, there is a stereotype about the brass: they’re fun, loud, obnoxious, and the go-to people for a good time or a quality prank. This was the kind of person that I was, and this was the kind of people who I wanted to spend my time with, so it was for this reason that I jumped ship and played trumpet for marching season. It didn’t go quite as I expected, though, and the reason for that is the fact I was terrible at my new instrument. I was that one person who struggled with the warm up. I fell off high notes the way drunken monkeys fall out of trees. About half of the times that we marched our show on the field, I’d inexplicably lose the ability to play (which was either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you looked at it). My only saving grace was that I could play loud enough “to make the audience feel the lacquer flying [off my instrument] into their faces” as the drill instructor put it.

So anyway, because my self-confidence was inextricably linked to my skill on an instrument, and because my self-confidence is the root of all my brasslike personality traits (comicalness, cockiness, and a slight lack of social inhibitions), I became a diminished version of myself when I was among the brass, which was not at all what I wanted. It didn’t help that I didn’t particularly belong anywhere in the section, since all the trumpets’ friend groups were pretty inflexible from all the years they’d spent playing together, and most of them couldn’t seem to forget that I was an alien hailing from woodwind-land. In short, I was lonely and occasionally miserable. Despite all that, though, I found that I did genuinely enjoy playing trumpet. The other thing that kept me going was this dream I had: if I could just be amazing at trumpet by the time I’m an upperclassman, then I’d be back to my confident and facetious self, and I’d be best buds with my fellow brass, and we’d goof off all day long and be happy. But in order to do that, I’d have to get better, and that meant actually practicing trumpet music outside of marching band. I couldn’t do it with self-incentive alone; I needed a higher power to motivate me. And that higher power was BYSO.

During my time in BYSO, I found that there was something about the place that made me extremely outgoing. I don’t know what it is exactly. I just know that I felt empowered enough to strike up a conversation with practically anyone here, which made making friends a lot easier. I befriended my fellow trumpets first, then the trombones, then the horns. I’m not going to say that all of us brass were one big happy family, because most of the friendships were only within our respective sections (with the exception of me, because I was friends with everyone except that one horn kid who I’ve never gotten to talk to, and the trombones, because they always ignore each other for some reason), but I like to think that we all had one thing in common: being brass players.

Oh, stop it. I can tell you’re facepalming as you’re reading this because I just said something so obvious. What I meant by that is that IMO there is a certain pride and self-satisfaction in being a brass player. Maybe it has to do with how beautiful and shiny our instruments are. Maybe it’s the knowledge that we have the power to blast everyone’s ears off if we wanted to. Maybe it’s because we’re in the back row and we know we can get away with practically anything (I’ve certainly misbehaved my fair share back here, including but not limited to studying, doing my homework, holding quiet conversations, passing notes, and doodling. That’s not to say that any of the other brass players misbehave like I do; they’re very respectable people. Don’t believe the stereotypes. Heh heh).

So I was going home after rehearsal one night when I realized that BYSO has given me everything I’ve ever wanted as a trumpet player. I was friends with everyone I ever talked to. I had the best of the qualities that I’d always associated with trumpet players—brilliance, easy confidence, power, fun, and pride. I finally belonged in a brass section, one that I had a lot of friends in. And the thing is, I was fulfilling my dream from the beginning of my trumpet journey without having to be exceptionally good—my skill level didn’t matter here.

So yes, I initially joined BYSO because I just wanted to find a place that would get me to practice. I wasn’t planning on getting attached to anyone there, and I certainly didn’t expect to love it as much as I do now. But it became much more than I thought it would ever be. It was a place to be my best and brightest self. It was where I met lots of amazing people that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. It taught me that ability and chair rankings aren’t as important as I thought they were. Most of all, it was a place where I got to play music I liked on an instrument I loved. So the moral of the story is that sometimes, things don’t always turn out the way you think they will. And while I may have made some terrible decisions in my short life (like running up a down escalator, and trying to impress a boy by telling him, “You make the ladies go WILD!”), I’m proud to say that BYSO is not one of them.

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