Tuesday, April 03, 2012

40 To 40 Day 15: On Music and Escape

In 4th grade the school orchestra came into every class and recruited new members. It was pretty neat, and I was instantly drawn to the instruments. Everyone else was looking at violin, cello, and bass. So I decided that I wanted to play the viola. My parents were cool with it, and we went to Milano's in Mesa and rented an instrument.

Well, without tooting my own horn too much, it turned out I was pretty good, and quickly developed a love for playing. In 6th grade I entered a Concerto Competition at ASU, and won my division. The prize was two weeks at music camp up in Flagstaff, and a nifty trophy. In Jr. High I played in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony also out of Mesa, which is actually where I first met my future foster sister, as well as another life-long friend Tasha (the one who keeps crying over these posts! I just love her!). It's also where I met Aimee, who would end up being quite the rival and really bring out my competitive nature all through high school.

My stepfather really pushed me hard once it was realized I had talent. I was lucky enough to start receiving private lessons in Jr. High from a Professor at ASU, and damn I wish I could remember his name. He's probably passed away by now, I think he was 55-60 when I was seeing him all those years ago.

As with any child though, getting them to practice is difficult, even if they love what they are doing. I started feeling extreme pressure at home too. My stepfather made it very clear that I need to stick to music because it was the only thing I had going for me. Which made me want to practice even less. It actually wasn't until High School that I realized- and wanted- to start paying closer attention to what I was doing.

Part of that was thanks to Aimee. Katie and Tasha can back me up, we were always neck and neck with each other. Whether in the school orchestra, or regionals, or state. We were friends too, so it was friendly competition. As much as we would compete, we'd be right there playing duets together for concerts as well. I loved it- by this time I wasn't just using music for enjoyment, I was using it to escape what was going on in my home at the time too. I loved getting lost in melodies, and of course rehearsals and concerts were all times to be away from home too. The more time away, the better.

I was even professional for a time, during my sophomore year I played in the Mesa Symphony. It wasn't a huge paycheck, but it was a paycheck all the same. I was getting paid to perform! That lasted a season, but it was fun and I even dated a violinist for a short time. A very short time.

My junior year at state will always be memorable, since that is when I was forced to tell an adult what was happening to me. It was my orchestra teacher. My parents had called saying they did not give me permission to make the trip to Flagstaff for the event. Which is true, I forged the document because I wasn't living at home at that time. I was finally pushed into a corner, and I had no choice but to tell. First words out of her mouth were, "I knew it."

So, since I want to stay on topic, let's fast forward to senior year. My competition had graduated, and I was on top of the world. Well, the nerdy orchestra world. I had so much fun that year, because I was really able to shine and I had so much positive support. Me and three others in my class formed a quartet and started playing weddings and receptions (and they played at my own wedding several years later). My orchestra teacher mentored and accompanied me for my music audition for a scholarship to ASU, and I got it. I decided to major in Music Therapy. But by this time my attention was all ready waning away from music. It just wasn't having the same effect on me. I still loved it, and loved playing, but I didn't feel the same need to play.

My one and only year at ASU could attest to that. I couldn't stand my music classes. The only ones I enjoyed were my music therapy ones. Theory? Dreaded. Piano? My short fingers had the hardest time. I began fearing the ASU orchestra, because the conductor warned us that at any given moment he would point to you and you needed to start playing something. So I started skipping rehearsals, and eventually dropped out.

For work-study I did play in the Lyric Opera Theater orchestra, and that was a lot of fun. Was reunited with Aimee again briefly. I was also dating Bret again at that point, and he never missed a performance. Eventually I dropped flunked out of ASU, but that is yet another post for another day.

Now occasionally I take out the viola and play for fun. I've played at my daughter's school several times, and that's probably how it will stay. A hobby that at one time had it's purpose, and I will always be thankful for the escape music gave me when I needed it most.

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