When I started playing the bassoon two years ago, I didn't really know what to expect. I was the first person at my high school to take an interest in the funny-looking instrument in almost five years, so it's not like I knew anyone personally who could help me figure out what I was doing.
1. Bassoon has taught me dedication.
I'll be the first to admit I was never one to practice my instrument much before I switched from clarinet to bassoon. I mean yeah, practicing is good and all, but why would I practice when I'm good enough to know my music? It's hard to find motivation but after I switched I had to motivate myself to practice as much as I could. Having weekly lessons that weren't just a music check meant I had to start actually trying and improving as a musician.
2. Bassoon has given me friendship.
When my bassoon teacher suggested I do a double reed camp at OSU, I was more than a little nervous at first. However, that camp has given me some of the closest friends I have, and I couldn't be more grateful for the weird Snapchats and late night talks. It sucks that most of them live so far away, but every honor band and clinic has been so much more fun because of them.
3. Bassoon has taught me perseverance.
Honestly, when I first started playing bassoon, I wanted to quit about three weeks in. I was so incredibly frustrated with the teacher I was doing lessons with, I couldn't figure out any of the fingerings because they were so similar to my clarinet but just different enough that I was wrong all the time, and I still couldn't read bass clef. I was ready to quit after the first month, but after switching teachers to someone who wasn't just through a music store and focused on getting me to buy as much stuff as I could and more on my improving as a musician.
4. Bassoon has taught me commitment.
Like I said before, I committed to weekly lessons as much as I could, and sometimes I had to give up fun times with my friends to put forth the effort I knew I needed to not suck during lessons. I learned a lot about time management and how to practice effectively, and now when I practice my clarinet too I'm not just mindlessly doing run-throughs of music. I've given up some parties and outings with friends, but I'm glad that I learned discipline and dedication because of it.
5. Bassoon has taught me how to achieve goals.
When I first started playing bassoon, my only goal was to actually read bass clef. Two years later and I've gotten a Superior rating in a Class A solo (which for you non-band people is the best rating in the hardest level), and I auditioned for the All-State Honor Band. I didn't get in, but working on those challenging pieces helped me improve my technique a lot, and I got a lot out of the experience. It also made me realize I can accomplish a lot more than I thought possible when I put my mind to it.
6. Bassoon has taught me that improvement takes time.
As someone who's coasted through school for the most part other than a few classes, (looking at you honors chemistry), I haven't faced a lot of challenges of how to improve at something I'm bad at. Academically I do pretty well, and until I picked up the bassoon I was pretty average at the clarinet. The bassoon is one of those instruments you can't pick up and immediately decide if you're good at it or not. When I first started lessons with my second teacher, I was so frustrated because I couldn't even remember the basic notes and fingerings sometimes, much less play the concert music I had been given for my high school band. It took so much mental strength and practicing to not give up and just go back to what I know, and every day I'm grateful that I stuck with it.
7. Bassoon has taught me that hard work pays off.
I have spent countless hours and days working to learn an instrument that I ultimately will never make a career playing. I wanted for a while to pursue a path in music education along with my English degree, but there are some things that don't work as a double major; music and English is one of those. While it does suck that I can't combine the two things that I love, the fact that I've gone from not being able to even correctly put my instrument together to considering majoring in that same instrument shows that if you put your mind to it, you really can do anything. Bassoon has given me a passion for music I would never have discovered otherwise, and while it sucks I can't apply that to my major, I will always have a love of performing and sharing music with others because of it.