I could have decided not to let it slip out of my life. I really loved it. I mean, I dedicated over five years of my life to learning the proper techniques, building skills, and even competing to see if all the time I put into the practice was paying off. It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed; a task that kept me grounded and occupied as the world around me seemed to be almost too much to handle at times.
It made me focus my competitive energy in a positive manner, forcing me to audition repeatedly for various ensembles and groups. The task at hand, for me in so many ways, was my escape from a reality that I sometimes was not able to balance in the most effective ways possible.
Oh, and by the way, if you haven't caught on to what the topic of this article is yet, it's music. The concept of learning how to play an instrument, the concentration it takes to improve in your playing capabilities, and the impact it makes on your life when it is a goal-centered, continuous activity you put an intense amount of effort into. Listening to music is one thing, but performing it is a whole different story.
Now, I was never a prodigy or someone who could have successfully managed a career out of music performance or education. However, I can confidently (partially narcissistically) say that I was good nonetheless.
Ironically enough, I wouldn't have even ventured towards this activity if it had not of been for a childhood best friend that persuaded me to take the class in the first place. In the fifth grade, I sat in my homeroom class with my best friend deciding whether we wanted to both enroll in a concert band class our first year of middle school. Now, knowing what you do about middle school (assuming that you endured the same painstakingly awkward three years the average tween does), this was a controversial decision. In the end, I was convinced to sign up and we were placed in the same class together the very next year.
It was in that class that I chose the instrument that fit not only my personality type pretty much perfectly, but I also committed to something way before I knew what I was getting myself into. My teacher told me, based on what I assume to be my looks and the fact that I was the only student in the class who could make a noise out of the instrument (on the spot) that I was the perfect candidate to become a flutist.
This decision of hers and mine led to me being consumed by music for the next seven years of my life- which is definitely not something I regret.
Most kids have their affinities for sports, addictions to video games, maybe participate in boy or girl scouts, or even take the opportunity to spend their juvenile years taking part in all things rebellious. For me, I was never drawn to any of those activities like I was to music. Thus being said, this is why it is so incredibly hard for me to watch it go.
I went above and beyond to increase my playing capabilities. I engaged in seven years of band classes, three years of private lessons, and two years of a local flute choir's rehearsals and performances. The dedication I put forth towards my practicing proved to pay off in the end as I earned top scores in performances and when I was lucky, a key few auditions. Although auditions were never my strong suit due to overarching anxieties, they still proved so helpful in the process of advancing my skills.
I practiced for hours on end some weeks in preparation for performances. Thousands of dollars were relinquished in order for me to be successful in my musical endeavors. Sadly, as I type this, I am watching everything that I have built up over the past seven years simply wash away- out of my life (hopefully not for good, for my sake, my mother's, and my previous private lessons instructor's).
It was never an intention of mine to have music performance slowly fade from my life during the transition from high school to college. This is an honest reflection of what many college students who may have dabbled in music performance during their high school years may tell you. There is an exception, however, those who major/minor in music or partake in music performance electives have ample opportunity to keep the practice in their lives.
But on the other hand, with the pressure of college classes, a limited amount of free time, and no proper space to practice for your own enjoyment it's difficult to remain in "playing shape" if you're not involved in any of those activities.
For someone who dedicated days to perfecting the smaller parts in the pieces that would be later performed, a girl who spent years taking private lessons and enduring a leadership position within several ensembles, it's difficult to simply leave that part of my life behind.
Deep down, I knew this was going to happen, but I wouldn't accept it in the months leading up to college. I could feel my draw to music fading as other options appeared and I suddenly stopped practicing as much. It's one of the hardest changes to adjust to as I'm leaving performing behind and walking through new doors that are opening up.
It's a sad truth but a reality. Sometimes we leave the things we love most about life behind during periods of time where a drastic change is implemented. Though to risk sounding dramatic, leaving behind music performance willingly is one of the hardest, most heartbreaking things that I have done during my transition from high school to college. Yes, I will always be able to practice during my own free time, but the thought of (potentially) never performing on stage again is something I was not (am not) prepared to accept.
The fact of the matter is: everyone at some point in their lives comes to a point where they must part with something they love dearly, and my leaving behind music performance for other goals is going to be something I will never be merely "okay" with.