It was still dark outside when I awoke from an anxious, anticipating sleep. Nervousness racked my thoughts, preventing me from thinking about anything else.
Yesterday I went to my first real band competition.
The District band competition was held at West Ridge, which was one less thing to worry about. But only one. Adrenaline coursed through me like a raging river. When I got there, I unpacked my flute and warmed up.
That might have been the hardest warm up I have ever been asked to do. I was trembling until the moment the flutes were called into our room to perform in front of a panel of judges.
We were each given a letter to be called up by, so we would be anonymous when we played in front of the judges. I was letter F, the sixth one to perform out of the 32 flutes there. I silently watched as each person slowly went up, inching closer and closer to my letter being called.
I must have been numb before I was asked to play, for when they were on flute E, a good friend of mine, did I realize that my fingers were stiff from clutching my flute so hard. Flute E had finished her music, standing up quickly from the playing playing chair and walking away with a unsure look on her face. She gave me a thumbs up as she was traveling back to her seat, and I knew it was time for me to play.
We were asked to play three pieces of music and three scales, all of which I had been preparing for for months in advance.The judges scored us in a series of 2 rounds. The first round, which I was about to play, consisted of the 3 scales and the first etude. The second round was the other 2 etudes.
The judges were behind a screen so they wouldn’t be biased about who they were scoring, but as I fumbled to get my pieces out, I could almost feel their intense stares.I took a deep breath and carefully lifted my flute to my mouth to play.
I shook so much that I didn’t even have to use vibrato to make the notes go between a flat and a sharp sound. I played as strongly as I could, and I tried to recall all the things I was told as I played: Remember your dynamics. Don’t drag when you play softer. Don’t skip over the trills or grace notes. Remember to count your rests.
After what seemed like a day, I had finally made it through round 1 of the competition. I had made a few mistakes, and I was reprehending my self for them as I took my seat to watch all of the other flutes perform.
Some of the flute players made me feel relieved, for I knew that I did better than them. But most of them made my heart pound in my ears, and I knew that I didn’t stand a chance.
After a painstaking 3 hours, we all took a 5 minute break and went back into the room to start round 2.
Round 2 was a blur. I lost track of time worrying and comparing myself to others. I went up again and played what I was told. My heart beat faster and faster with every wrong note I squeaked out. I was in that room for a total of 6 hours, and when they let us go, I was more stressed than I had ever felt before.
It is hard to grade yourself on how you did when you were just focused on playing the right notes. As I walked back to the cafeteria were they would post the scores in an hour, I kept preparing myself for a low score telling me that I would not advance to Regionals.
Nothing is worse than waiting for your scores. I tried to cheer myself up by playing around with my friends and getting something to eat, but it was in vain. I couldn’t stop glancing over at the empty results wall. Every time a person walked into the cafeteria, my heart pounded.
Finally, a woman in a black dress comes in with a sheet of paper. Almost everyone in the room sprints to see their scores.
I try to navigate through the sea of people. I hear both shouts of joy and cries of sadness.
When I get to the board, I immediately look at the bottom, praying that I at least made it onto the list. I see lots of names, but none of them are mine. I slump. But then, I slowly trace my finger to the top of the list.
To my amazement, I see it. Flute F. Ingrid M. Grade 7. I move my finger to the left, revealing my placement. I had gotten second chair out of 32 flutes! I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was going to Regionals!
I raced to tell my friends the news. I was so happy that all my work had payed off. I was so grateful. But even as much as I wanted to stay, it was time to go home.
After lots of hugs and congratulations, I jumped in my friend’s car and drove home.
I will never forget that day. I have learned not to doubt myself so much and to never give up, for hard work will always pay off.