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I lean my head against the cold glass window and watch the world fly by at 70 mph, as the soothing tones of stringed instruments and a dancing guitar line melt into Emm Gryner’s voice singing “Stereochrome.” I was 6 years old, riding in the backseat of my parent’s station wagon on a 4-hour road trip to our annual mountain biking destination. A few years pass and we meet 10-year-old me. I’m in my bedroom reading a “Magic Tree House” book, as my floor vibrates with a pulsating rhythm from the bass roaring downstairs. My Dad’s band is inconceivably loud. I still remember the muffled sound of a woman’s voice belting “Son of a Preacher Man.” Next thing I know, I’m an emotional 13-year-old middle schooler, sobbing into my pillow while the sound of Morrissey’s voice speaks to me through my earbuds and silences every other sound in the world. By next year I am 14, listening intently to the sound of my bassoon echoing off my living room walls, approaching my second hour of practice. Hundreds of hours of practicing later, I am 16, interacting with the sound of my bassoon as it resonates with the acoustics of the Kennedy Center, echoing across the hall and touching even the back row of the audience. Now, I am 17, standing in a tailcoat, conducting the band from the 50 yard line of a football field as I hear the roar of 200 instruments bringing life to Shostakovich.
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It seems like music has always been there for me, whether I’m listening, or playing, or directing. It has become an integral part of who I am- melodies ingrained into my mind, chords and harmonies locked into memories. Music is my passion, each and every style adding to that rich and vibrant web of art. I treasure the creativity and freedom expressed in jazz, the emotions and energy poured into rock n’ roll, the rhythmic intricacies and thumping bass of funk that just makes you want to get up and dance. However, my true love will always be classical music. While most students use classical music as background ambiance for studying, or as a soundtrack to fall asleep to, dozing off is the last thing I will do when listening to classical music. The music captures me and I become completely immersed in the intertwining melodies and the ever-changing sonic pallet, giving each sound a certain color. I feel the way that various chords trigger different emotions, ranging from complete despair to intense joy, and it fascinates me and pulls me further and further into the music. Classical music can tell stories and convey emotions more powerfully than words could. Music has been a constant source of happiness in my life, acting like an anchor as people come and go like waves in the ocean. I wish that all people could experience music like I do, and that is why I started the “Save the Sounds” charity drive to provide method books and instruments to local elementary schools’ music programs that are struggling due to budget cuts.
In a perfect world, schools would never see budget cuts, but that’s a problem to be solved another day. For now, I am here, conducting my 250-person band, the show coming to a close. I keep the tempo driving forward, building the excitement until finally, closing my fists, I bring the piece to an end. I throw my fists down in pride and watch the band snap their horns down in time with me. I subtly breaking attention with a smile I can’t hold back. The show has just ended, and another song has just been added to the soundtrack of my life- another song, and another memory to go with it.
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