Learning Discipline Through A Piece of Wood

Travis - Sugar Land, Texas
Entered on November 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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Okay, let’s admit it. I wasn’t always the best child.

When I was a toddler, I was subject to some pretty violent temper tantrums. It was so bad that even my cousins were afraid of me. My parents tried everything to get me to behave, all in vain. I just wouldn’t change.

When my sister entered middle school, she began to play the cello. Since she was already learning the piano, she took to it naturally. I however, at age 7, had no musical experience and a whole lot of attitude. Wanting to be like my sister and cousins, who all played instruments, I decided that it was my turn to learn something. My parents, relieved I had found some way to distract myself, chose violin.

At first, I enjoyed playing violin. But after a while, when I had to actually start practicing for lessons, I hated it. I never wanted to practice. I would try to avoid playing, get mad when I had to, and start yelling. After a year or two, I was threatening to drop my violin over the stairs, telling my parents to call my violin teacher to tell him I had quit.

But, for some strange reason, I kept on playing. My parents put up with my complaining, and I put up with minimal practicing. Slowly, but surely, my playing improved. As I got better, I noticed something. When I played, people didn’t wince or make excuses to leave the room. In fact, they actually began to enjoy listening to me. The more I practiced, the better I got, and the more people liked my music. Soon, I began to realize that playing violin was not, in fact, a burden, but a gift.

I believe that learning and practicing a musical instrument isn’t just about figuring out how to play Mozart. It teaches one how to improve, that no matter how hard something seems, you can overcome it with practice. It also is quite an effective way to teach discipline. After I started practicing violin more seriously, my temper tantrums gradually lessened, and I grew into a more mature person. I had learned that if you think you can’t do something or if you feel like giving up, don’t. All you have to do is practice a little more.

Now, I’m in eighth grade. I still play the violin; in fact, I’m now concertmaster and co-president of our school’s symphony orchestra. Whenever I get ready to practice, I remember the days when I would slam my bow against the couch, or refuse to even look at my instrument. Those days are now behind me. Violin has taught me focus, discipline, and how to overcome even the biggest obstacles. In turn, I’ve sacrificed hundreds upon thousands of hours learning how to make my violin sing like the best soprano, fiddle like any country cowboy, or even how to play the Super Mario Bros. theme song.

All in all, I think that’s a pretty good deal.