Music competitions produce in me an anxiety equal to nothing else. I understand and appreciate that you may think me a bit melodramatic. You’re certain there must be other things that produce greater anxiety than music competitions . . . and I persist . . . there are not.
As I sat, waiting for Ryan to be called up to his first trombone solo, I felt a great deal of uneasiness . . . and my mind raced back 27 years . . . I was a 7th grader and I was a participant in a state wide music competition as a trumpet soloist. It is possible that I played most of the song well, but all I remember is the extremely challenging part at the end. A part which I did not get . . . so I tried again, and did not get . . . and tried again, and did not get. After the third failure, I ran out of the room and cried in an adjoining classroom.
That experience haunted me for years, to the point that I struggled playing my trumpet in anything smaller than a large brass ensemble. If I played alone or in a small group, I would shake, nearly uncontrollable, before and even during the performance. I knew that I shouldn’t be afraid, and of course I was a better trumpet player as the years went on, but I couldn’t get over that dreadful experience.
27 years later, I was sitting in a school classroom, squeezing my rather large mass of a body into one of those wonderful student desks. Ryan stood in front of this half filled classroom of superficial, mean spirited judges . . . okay there was only one very kind judge and a handful of sweet students and gracious parents . . . but still a very daunting group when you’re in fourth grade playing your first solo.
As far as I am concerned, he’s a rock star. He finished his entire song. He played beautifully (for a first year student). He walked to the judge, received his critique, and we pleasantly and proudly walked from the gawking onlookers.
It was only then that I was told how infrequently they have 4th graders play solos. Ryan had been able to improve enough in his first year to successfully make it through his performance. You might struggle in catching this, but I’m pretty proud dad 🙂
By the way, to this day, the only song I can play by heart on my trumpet is that 7th grade solo.