Make the Effort

Ethan - Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Entered on March 19, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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For many years I have been involved in the instrumental music program. In the beginning, I was told countless times that the only way for me to improve was to practice. “Never give up” my teacher would say. At first, I followed this advice as if it were cardinal law; constantly practicing; never giving up. Soon after, I noticed a large improvement in my playing and began to enjoy myself immensely. More than once, my teacher commented on my surprising vigor while playing our songs. As the years went on, however, I noticed that I could get by without the extra practice and still play with a high level of proficiency. So I ceased to practice my instrument altogether-a decision that I would learn to regret.

Since that day, it has been four years; four long years. I still play in the band, and still do not practice. However, my outlook towards playing has dramatically changed. The curious and cheerful face that I once possessed has vanished and has been replaced by a solemn, expressionless one. Many a time, people have asked, “why don’t you smile more?” My reply is a simple one-there is nothing to smile about. When I sit down to play, I do not enjoy it. Rather, I feel it to be an obligatory task, a chore even. Like a clock, I do my job, working away for work’s sake. I cannot stop. I cannot rest. Surprisingly, such useless toil has a simple solution. I must practice. Like most things, however, this is much easier said than done, for old habits are hard to break.

There are many times when I find myself looking back at my past decision; scorning its carelessness and regretting it immensely. Had I not taken the easy way out, playing music would probably still be enjoyable. But, unlike the future, the past and can

not be changed. I chose to be a mediocre musician; that was my choice. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret it. If anything is to be taken from this, it is how important hard work is. It may seem trivial at times, but every bit counts. Do not strive to be mediocre when you can achieve so much more. It’s not worth it.