Creative Writing: A Moment That Defined Me
This week's Red Dress Club assignment was when meeting someone for the first time, describe a scene from your life that would help show the person your true self.
In the extreme heat of the August weather in the deep South, I wandered around a worn grassy field. Tall and lanky, my face was intense but happy. Instruments newly polished after a break in their melodic work filled the field along with hard working children and teachers. Directions and corrections came over a loud speaker even though silence filled the humid air.
We literally worked day and night and every moment in between. I was a high school musician now and the stakes were high. Far from being the leader, I found myself transformed into the rookie. My eyes and ears were still recovering from hearing the accomplishments and seeing the maturity of those three years older than me. People were kissing! Some wore t-shirts with brightly colored bears dancing around despite being an 18 year old man.
Unable to drive, my father would pick me up at the end of each day's marathon of notes, rhythms, and movement. And each day through a clay dusted face, I would beam and report, "Dad, I love this!".
It was during these moments that I knew, just knew, what I wanted to be when I grew up. The feelings of success, belonging, leadership, hard work defined me and I couldn't imagine doing anything else for the rest of my days.
The path proved to be a fitting one, filled with noteworthy performances and travel. My ability to lead my peers was challenged just a few years later in that same August air on that same filthy field. This time the question was, "Dad, how do I get my friends to do what I want them to and make the music better?"
SEC Football games were the next arena in which amazing music was being made and I earned the leadership opportunity of a lifetime. Leading the University of Georgia Band each Saturday beneath the hedges was an exhilarating mix of music, crazy Southerners, lifelong friends, romance, travel, and a step closer to my very own group to lead.
Today, four cinderblock walls are the home to my symphony of first sounds, and final sounds as students progress through middle school. The morning's freshly brewed strong coffee makes way for additional rehearsals each day long before the first bus will arrive. I am surrounded by talent on many levels. Students astound me as they plow through musical hurdles with leaps and bounds, far surpassing what I was able to do at that age. I have colleagues who have performed in New York's finest concert halls, and I am sure the transition from Carnegie to the hall of Beginners often generates thoughts of, "Why am I here?"
I knew though as I shared that dust filled smile with my father that I wanted to share my passion for learning and for music with others as inspirationally as my band directors did with me. I wanted to see the faces of each new generation of musicians beam with successes large and small. I wanted to see people in the throes of battle with self-esteem overcome the obstacles inherent with learning an art form and come out the other end a musician.