This I Believe

benjamin - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 15, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Music has permeated its way into my life since I was very young. As a small child, I spent large amounts of time at my grandparents’ house. My grandmother played many instruments, and collected music boxes. This outlet for music was, at the time, viewed by me as an irritation, a nuisance that distracted me from the television.

Then in fourth grade, for the first time, I was given the opportunity to play music, rather than adults deciding what I did musically. This chance came about through an orchestra class in school. Anyone who chose to play in the orchestra had four options of possible instruments to play: the violin, viola, cello, and bass. I chose to play the viola because it always seemed like an intriguing instrument to me.

Throughout secondary school, the viola was my best friend, and worst enemy. It took me away from the stress of school, but it added an intense pressure to perform. With each concert, I gained ability to play, but I also gained confidence and self-esteem which helped me conquer curricular and social problems.

When I went into high school, the constraint of orchestra class left me desiring more time to play, more challenging music to perform, and a larger audience to observe my abilities. At that point, I decided to join an extra-curricular orchestra. I started by joining a small non-competitive local orchestra, but I quickly outgrew that venue. I tried my hardest and soon joined two competitive semi-local orchestras. Initially I discredited the non-competitive orchestra experience because of its status. As I look back though, I realize that without this exposure, I probably wouldn’t have performed well enough to get into the harder orchestras. These harder orchestras helped fulfill both my desire for a challenge, and the added concerts greatly boosted my sense of success and empowerment.

It is my belief that the drive and endurance that I use in orchestra are the most important qualities that I posses. It is this same drive and endurance that I use when I learn new things in school, and that I use to fuel the hard work I put into everything I do.

For these reasons, it is impossible for me to believe what my school district proposes. They suggest that elementary and secondary students do not benefit from music programs. The District goes on to suggest that the orchestra programs from all elementary and secondary schools should be eliminated. These are the same programs that taught me so many lessons, and supported me during even the hardest points in my education.

I believe that removing the orchestra programs is a travesty, and is outrageous. I suggest that musicians band together and tell their stories, and thus protect the orchestra programs that taught them their skills and values on which they base their lives/ livings.