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Way back when, I played the clarinet for eight years (fourth through twelfth grades). Concert band, orchestra, marching band, the high school musical, you name it. You could have called me a band geek, and I would have taken that as an awesome compliment.
But high school made way for college, and college made way for making decisions. I had to choose between writing for the school newspaper and playing for the school orchestra, due to conflicting time slots on the school calendar. So I stopped playing my beloved clarinet, which probably needed a rest anyway, as it became a little beat up from years of marching under the sun at band camp.
Eight years is a long time to be with something nearly every day, through personal practice time, lessons, band class, performances and competitions. But through those eight years, I have realized that playing a musical instrument has given me such a great skill set in a lot of ways, besides becoming more musically inclined.
Playing took dedication. I will be the first to tell you that I was not a stellar clarinetist. I was good—I made first chair the last three years of high school—but in no way was I anything special. When I was in elementary school, I remember thinking that practicing clarinet in my room was the most dreadful thing ever, so I would count the minutes until my mom would yell up from downstairs that my 10 minutes were up. But eventually, I realized that every minute counted, and if I wanted to excel, I had to commit myself to practicing.
What’s more, playing an instrument helped me to foster some great friendships. I joined marching band freshman year of high school, and so did my twin brother—he played oboe, than bassoon, and finally, baritone saxophone, which he still plays today in college. Together we started band camp the summer before school started, so we instantly knew a friendly group of faces while navigating the scary halls of the high school (which was so reassuring). Because we practiced for three weeks straight over the summer and saw each other at least four days out of the school week as a marching band, we definitely bonded. And there is nothing like hanging out all the time with people who love to make music, too.
Ultimately, marching band helped me to develop self-confidence. The process of practicing, playing in front of crowds and your peers, aiming for solos and more made me realize the depth of my capability. Marching under the lights of a football stadium while donning a crisp uniform and playing my heart out, I felt so proud of myself and of my band.
Told you I was a band geek.
Do you play an instrument? Feel free to share your musical experiences in the comment section! (Fun fact: Like a Boss’s Jen Jones Donatelli also played clarinet!)