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Everyone associates something different with each day of the week. Mondays are lethargic and painful, Tuesdays are not much different, and generally, as the week progresses, our outlook steadily improves. Because of this progression, some people find it strange that I used to hate Thursday nights.
While most people view Thursdays as a satisfying final obstacle before the jubilation that accompanies the weekend, I used to dread them. In fall of my freshman year I was offered to play in the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra’s Wind Ensemble. Although I usually jump at any opportunity to play my trombone, there was something extremely daunting about WCYO’s Thursday night rehearsals. Whether it was the forced socialization with other kids from all over Connecticut, the two-hour long evening rehearsals after a long school day, or the lack of nourishment, Thursday nights were equivalent to purgatory for ninth-grade me. Despite their unpleasantness, I withstood four months of these rehearsals, and eventually our winter concert rolled around. After an encore performance of Robert W. Smith’s Africa that warranted a standing ovation, I scanned the audience, with only one thought subsisting in my mind: “This is great and all, but I can’t sit through four more months of this”.
On the car ride home that night, I implored my mother to pull me out of the WCYO, but through some complicated and confusing rhetoric, I was convinced to attend one more rehearsal. The next Thursday I walked into the rehearsal room expecting the same mundane routine, but was pleasantly surprised. Gone was the previous conductor that had been teaching me for the last four months, and in her place stood a man who has since grown extremely close to my heart: Mr. Albert Montecalvo, a short and balding seventy-something Italian grandpa, with his trademark little grin imprinted on his face. Rehearsal that night was revelatory for me, but not because Mr. Monte taught me something life changing about music. No. Instead, he displayed true passion to me for the first time ever. Mr. Monte greeted each of his students with a glistening and endearing smile, and ended the rehearsal by sincerely thanking us for our time and our dedication to the art of music. I went home that night deciding that, just maybe, I could come back next week.
That was about three years ago, and I have been playing with Mr. Monte ever since, progressing to principal trombone in the Wind Ensemble. Mr. Monte has been constant in his dedication to conducting the Wind Ensemble, and the sincerity and passion that he displayed that first rehearsal has been unwavering over the last three years. Mr. Monte is a conductor, yes, but he has the ability to teach his students an intangible aspect of music: the enthusiasm and emotion behind it that separates a good performance from an exemplary, goosebump-inducing one. Full of adorably horrible puns, a drive to push his group to perform the best they can, and a sincere zealousness for his craft, Mr. Monte has influenced me more than anyone I know. Although occasionally his heartfelt lectures may drag on a little too long, he has ultimately taught me to not only go through the motions, but to put meaning behind my actions, and to preserve an unbounded passion for my hobbies. Because of Mr. Monte, everything I do, whether it is something as small as completing my homework, to something as significant as applying to a college, seems to hold much more gravity behind it. Mr. Monte is an excellent musician, yes, but his greatest impact has been in conducting the idiosyncrasies of my life.
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