Music is My Sport

I'm a musician.

If people ask me what I am, I tell them I'm a musician. If people ask me what my passion is, I say music.

A lot of people that know me know this. They know me as this sick lead trumpet player, or this sick guitarist, or this sick clarinetist.... you name it. However, they don't really know why I invest so much time and effort into music. So, here's my relationship with music.

Growing up as a kid, I'd wake up to the sound of MTV. And occasionally, I'd hear my dad blast rock music in my grandma's house at 5 AM before going to work. We lived in a pretty crowded house; my grandma, great grandma, great grandpa, mom, and dad lived under one roof. Not gonna lie, it was a shitty house. But it was home to some of my most vivid and happy memories.

My mom would always tell me stories about how I'd sit up in my crib, dancing to Britney Spears. My dad was a big rock fan, so I'd listen to Sum 41, Blink-182... bands like that. All I did as a kid was shit, sleep, and listen to music. However, I was pretty content. At a young age, I told myself I wanted to become a rockstar. I didn't know how I wanted to get there, but I knew I wanted to be like Hannah Montana, oddly enough.
     We moved houses soon, to help with my health, and I had more time to myself. A typical day in my life would consist of me coming home from school and blasting music on my TV until my mom made me start my homework. I listened to everything, really; Chris Brown, Britney Spears, Beyonce... all of those artists really shaped me. I got somewhat into dancing and singing, and I did it casually. I took dance classes for a short period of time, and though I didn't learn anything, I was still happy to be there.
     While I was in elementary school, I found myself listening to music all the time (or rather, whenever I could). I wanted to learn how to make music so badly!... but I didn't really get the opportunity to do so until fourth grade, when I was introduced to band. The cost of an instrument was frightening, so I decided to not do it that year. I joined in fifth grade, and my first instrument was the clarinet.

Fun fact: I still have my clarinet, and though I haven't played it in a while, I intend to start practicing again :)

Picking up my first instrument was beyond overwhelming. I was, in a way, living my dream at such a young age. I still remember that day; my first day ever in band. I was sitting in a crowded library in front of a table, with my mouthpiece in my hand. I was instructed to soak a thin reed and secure it to the mouthpiece with the ligature. I remember feeling so anxious; in the moment, all I wanted was to be handed a song or something so I could start playing. I don't remember ever feeling so eager to learn. With much trouble, I squeaked out a note from the mouthpiece, trying not to puff my cheeks (my music teacher said puffing your cheeks was bad), and repeated. That's all I remember doing that day; trying to make a sound using the mouthpiece. I couldn't WAIT to get to band.
     Learning how to read music wasn't hard at all. I actually enjoyed the process. Many people that know me know I get frustrated when it comes to learning stuff, but it was different with music. I picked it up fairly quickly, and soon, my band teacher gave me music to learn on my own, due to the fact I was moving at such a fast pace. I was placed in honor band that same year, and continued doing that for three more years.
     When junior high rolled around, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons and learn more instruments. "But where do I begin?", I asked myself. I decided I wanted to learn trumpet, an instrument that stole my heart at a young age. I picked up trumpet during the second half of my seventh-grade year. Not going to lie, it wasn't easy; switching from a woodwind instrument to a brass instrument proved difficult for me and my chops. My close and very dear friend Luis taught me how to play. Learning how to play trumpet, in my mind, felt the same as learning how to ride a bike; Luis taught me the basics, and over time, he started taking the training wheels off until I could do my own thing. I am forever indebted to him, because without him and the ridiculous amount of patience he had and still has with me, I wouldn't be where I am today. He is my mentor (my Yoda, in a way), and someone I aspire to be like.
     Something worth noting is that I was only taught how to play one style of music, really; classical music. I had no idea jazz band was even a thing in junior high, until we got a new band director in eighth grade and she made it a thing. Our new band director, Mrs. Hoffman, (previously, my elementary and seventh-grade band teacher was named Ms. Belyea), established a jazz band at our school. Of course, me being the budding musician I am, I rushed to join. This gave me not only the opportunity to experiment with a different style of music, but with a new instrument: the guitar. If y'all recall, I mentioned that I grew up listening to rock. I looked up to guitarists like Billie Joe Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix. I wanted to play like them. I picked up the guitar, and I remember walking into jazz band completely clueless. The only reason I knew how to even hold the damn thing was because I was a master at Guitar Hero. Me not knowing how to play guitar motivated me so fucking much. So much, that by the time I walked into jazz band the following week, I had the first jazz song down. That's how it was for the remainder of the year; my skills improved to the point where I could sightread songs. I flip flopped between trumpet and guitar in jazz band; the one thing I noticed about jazz is how much freedom the player has. With classical music or concert music, everything must be played a set way, whereas with jazz, there is room for improvisation and... really room to do whatever the fuck you want. I joined guitar club that same year, to further improve my guitar skills, and I must say, my seventh and eighth-grade years only made me realize how much music meant to me.
     And now, we've reached our final destination: high school. I looked up to the Santa Maria High School band. They'd perform with the junior high students at concerts, and I'd be in awe. Everyone was so talented in my eyes. I auditioned to be in the SMHS band, and to my surprise, I made it! So I stumbled my way to band camp before school started (I stumbled because I was shaking, and I was shaking because I was nervous). Not only was everyone so talented, but everyone I met was very nice too. I reunited with some of my old friends, including my mentor (Luis is a year older than I am). I got a feel for what band would be like in high school, and I was READY. With my trumpet in one hand and marching band music in another, I felt like I could conquer the world (and freshman year). And so I did... at least I felt like I did. I got the opportunity to perform in more parades, football games, basketball games, festivals... you name it. And that was only the start. As sophomore year came around, I joined the SMHS jazz band, another group I fell in love with. There was just so much momentum when it came to music; I felt like nothing could stop me from achieving everything I wanted to do. I kept learning more and more; I am in the process of learning piano and saving up for a saxophone right now.
     So, there are my experiences with music and band. But, I feel like that's only the tip of the iceberg. So, here's a bit of my personal story, and how music has impacted me personally.
     I never had a lot of friends growing up. I always considered myself an introvert. I never spoke up, was alone almost all the time, was bullied... all that stuff. Nothing really set me apart from my peers, other than the fact I was very smart and "a teacher's pet". I wasn't the most confident kid on the block, and I hated that. All I wanted was to be like everyone else. To feel like I belonged. Even now, I still struggle with that. All of those things leave... marks. They distort the way you see yourself. To me, I was so accustomed to feeling alone... ugly... weird... all of that... that it got to a point where I just saw myself as a bad human. A waste of space. That lead to me falling into the void that is depression. And me picking up the habit that is self-harm. Eventually, I looked in the mirror and just saw a monster looking back at me. Which I still see today. Suicide plagued my mind, and note that all of this started happening at such a young age; I was eleven when I started self-harming. This has been going on for years. The one thing that became my therapy was... music. When I wanted an outlet, I'd play a song. When I wanted to distract myself, I'd look up how to play new instruments. It was my light in the dark. When nobody could figure out how to help me, I'd turn to music and music always found a way to make me feel okay. To make me feel like I could live another day. That's powerful. Where would I be without music? Probably not here. As cheesy as this sounds, music... saved my life in a way.
      In fact, music IS my life. It's my true love, my passion. Some people may enjoy volleyball, some may enjoy football, some may enjoy basketball... but music is my sport.


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