My dad’s Volkswagon cruised along I-75. Cars zipped by us like it was the Audubon, their engines creating loud grumbles. Inside the car, my dad and I were quiet. I was tired and disappointed in myself. I had just come from my third Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra rehearsal where I managed to fumble through the music while everyone around me was nailing all of the runs. Half way home, my dad began to give me a talk about needing to be more prepared for rehearsal. As we approached our exit ramp and the discussion came to a close, my dad told me, “It’s like what the article on Mr. Spano said; talent is a responsibility.”
I said I had not read the article, so the next day, I spent thirty minutes devouring each word in it. The article’s main focus was about Robert Spano, the conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I learned that when Spano was in the fifth grade, he already played the piano, flute, and violin and had begun composing. I was amazed by all of Spano’s accomplishments. Even though my dad plays in the Symphony, I never knew much about his hard work. About half way through the article was the line that changed my outlook on music: “Talent is not a gift; it’s a responsibility.”
This statement made by Spano’s childhood piano teacher, Ray Barbour, was so true to me. It applied to my life as well as the lives of people around me. Only a year ago, heated dinner table conversations began about my brother’s cello playing. He said that he wanted to quit despite his talent and focus on the electric bass. My mother, however, believed that he should have a classical music education. For a few more months, my brother would be forced to practice. He would spend most of his scheduled forty-five minutes improvising or picking out the themes from other songs. Now, my brother flies through bass repertoire because he loves to practice. His dreams revolve around his passion.
For me, practicing is a different story. In past years, I entered the practice room after dinner, tired and worn out. Nevertheless, I would try to practice for an hour. But this was only on days when I did not have much homework. Some days I would be too tired to practice. Frustration also comes with practicing. There are times when I have tried to work on a difficult passage, and hot tears of frustration roll down my face. Now, I have changed my schedule to accommodate the workload I need to accomplish. I practice from the time I get home from school until dinner. This way, I am able to practice every day. Practicing cello is a responsibility that I need to fulfill in order to get better. Work does not get done by itself. I believe in hard work, the ability to succeed, and being able to improve. I believe that talent is not a gift, but a responsibility.
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