Memory #1: I was on the Speech and Drama team in middle school and I competed with a friend in duo improv. We would walk into a competition room, be given a one sentence prompt, and have two minutes to come up with a scenario to act out together. I was so petrified of competing in this event each time that I felt physically ill beforehand. Our performances themselves were a blur, but the pride and strength I felt after having made it through those performances carried through to my relationships at school, my confidence in the classroom, and I believe, to my public speaking skills now in my work at a law firm.
Memory #2: My interest in the middle school band started to wane as I entered 8th grade. I wanted to spend more time participating in activities seen as popular and “cool” than practicing my saxophone and performing in band concerts. I think my band instructor started to detect this change in my attitude toward band and my instrument, and he decided to enter me and a few other students in an ensemble competition. The music we got to play for the competition was more challenging, and to my ears, more beautiful, than any music I had been able to play in the regular course of participation in band. I enjoyed practicing and preparing for this event, and our ensemble’s performance went so well that we were awarded the highest distinction given to participants in the competition. Needless to say, I did not continue with band into high school, since marching band was much more of a time consuming commitment than middle school band had been, but I still look back fondly on that ensemble accomplishment, and on my time as a saxophonist, and I’m very grateful to that instructor for challenging me and renewing my appreciation for my instrument and for performance. I know now as an adult, having gained some distance from the superficiality of many of my priorities as a middle schooler, that I would not trade my experience or accomplishments in band for participation in any activity I would have thought of as “cooler” at that age.
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