As if my life were the circle of fifths, I find myself back at my beginning in my senior year, my musical beginning that is. Four years ago, I was a nervous freshman, preparing for my band audition (if anyone is curious, I played Czardas on the marimba), and I received my placement in the Wind and Percussion Ensemble. That year, I tested my limits as I expanded my abilities across a slew of percussion instruments, all while tackling syncopation and mixed meters the likes of which I had never seen before.
Sophomore year tested me in different ways. Having only ever played in concert bands and musical theater pit bands, I was curious to experience the orchestral side of music, so I found myself joining Philharmonia as tympani player. Operating on the more classical side exposed me to a plentitude of fresh skills and practices, but the greatest change was focus. As timpanist, I had one job and one job only, play timpani well. This was a major development. Up to this point I had always needed to concern myself with playing the whole gamut of percussion instruments (oftentimes in the course of a single song), but in Philharmonia I was able to hone my skills in a focused area without interruption, something very new for me in an ensemble.
My junior year was certainly the oddest. I was in Nottingham and completely uninvolved with musical groups for the first time in ten years. Even this had its interesting benefits, however; for I returned to the piano, an instrument I had not engaged with seriously since middle school. This time spent abroad also gave me a chance to step back and reflect, with the result that my musical passion was reinvigorated, just in time for a last hurrah at Luther.
Entering senior year, I knew that I wanted to return to music, but I kept debating and debating about which group I ought to join. As it happens, the choice was taken out of my hands, for my schedule (into which I have crammed far too many extra classes) precluded everything but Wind and Percussion Ensemble. I must say that this outcome has been excellent. It means that I have been able to complete a full circle, and come back to evaluate my first musical experiences at Luther with fresh eyes. Now that I know the ropes, I get to spend a lot more time enjoying the music than worrying about making mistakes, and that is just the thing that is so wonderful about pursuing music in the first place; after all of the hard work and practice you put in, one day you’ll reflect and see that it was worth it because you have come so far from where you began.
All in all, I don’t want to suggest that I have come to my end by returning to my beginning. Instead, I find myself faced with a new beginning, the jumping-off point of a lifetime full of music. After all, the circle of fifths never ends (how could any circle?) but goes on to repeat itself over and over, with new songs written in new keys.