Life Lessons I Learned From Playing the Bassoon

7 Life Lessons I Learned From Playing The Bassoon

Wait, did you say baboon???

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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.

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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.
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“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.

“Why?"

"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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Mourning The Loss

She had no direction and already felt like she had lost herself, anyway.

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She wore her heart on her sleeve but covered her innermost feeling with laughs, smiles, and awkward jokes that only some thought were funny at all. She was happy on the outside and this got her to the place where she is now. Faking it till she made it made sense until she realized she didn't know what she was making it to.

Regardless, she was a bright light in the hallways of her grade school filled with small plastic chairs and brown square desks. She acted most days as a clown in the classroom in order for her to get some kind of attention. She worked on Accelerated Math and reading books extensively, and in her free time her studying habits were almost obsessive.


Brianna Gavin

When asked to do anything for anyone, she dropped all of what she was doing to help.

High school came around and after being separated from her best friend going to a different school, she knew this time she really had to reinvent herself. At first, she stayed in the bubble of grade school friends and found it hard to ever speak up about anything.


Brianna Gavin

She kept her mouth shut for the first year of high school and lived in the shadows of her siblings' bad decisions. That first year, teachers even called her "little Gavin".

As sophomore year of high school came around, she met a teacher that would forever change her life and brought her out of the shadow of her siblings past. She was the first teacher in that high school to see her as her own person, different from her family.

After meeting this teacher, she stepped into the role of being a leader. She went to summer leadership camps and became actively involved in the Social Committee of Student Council. She created a service club and became the president. She got over 100 hours of service done each year, went on mission trips, led and spoke her story at retreats, went to every football game dressed UP in the theme, and still had time to get a high GPA.


Brianna Gavin

She was KILLING it.

In the mornings before school started, she sat in her car for five minutes by herself to separate her home life from her school life. She listened to "One Man Can Change The World" by Big Sean and sang the words to herself as she began to put on a mask for the day.


Brianna Gavin

She was sometimes a clown. She'd walk around the hallways and go to class while eating boxes of cereal and constantly made jokes about ANYTHING going on. One thing you could always count on her for was authenticity and hope.


Brianna Gavin

Even at her job teaching kids how to swim, the second she came out in her brightly colored swimsuit, her kids were already there and ready to say hi to her. Kids would make her cards and families constantly asked her to babysit and told her stories of how much their kids loved her.


One day during school, she was awarded with a scholarship called "You Can Count On Me", given to her because of how reliable, dependable, and important she was to all those around her. She remembered the words that were said about her when she received the scholarship and those were the driving force for her to continue helping others and being there for herself.

But then came college. And with the goodbye to all of her friends, family, and popular school life also came the goodbye to herself.


Brianna Gavin

She now became something she didn't want to be anymore. She stayed in her room, struggled extensively with mental illness, and looked in the mirror without knowing what she was looking at. She didn't have many friends and she felt alone most of the time.

With change and loss, she lost herself. She, in a sense, died as soon as her relationships with those close friends and family died. And no matter how hard she tries, she will never be the happy, energetic, inspiring, motivational, giving, faithful, loving person she once was.

The truth she has to share...she is gone.

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