Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

If you are not a musician

If you are not a musician you do not know time. You cannot know time. You have not seen time defenestrated, or lifetimes wasted. Time deceptively floats over to the window like a butterfly, and jumps while a trumpeter shoots at high C until his lips bleed. Time holds two fingers up to the back of the trumpeter’s head, goofily distracting, but the trumpet player cannot stop. He must get a clean tone.
You sit on a park bench--aware of the squirrels, the birds, and the trees--but a musician is chained to a straight-back chair, enveloped in the little black dots and the Italian doodles on the page.
If you are not a musician, you cannot know time.

If you are not a musician you do not know disappointment. You cannot know disappointment. The way its black veil hovers over a violinist, abandoning talent hopeless on the street. It is the dead-end career of a symphonic tuba player with lung cancer. It is the high school student's dreams flushed down recession's toilet. Disappointment is the everlasting limit determined by money, capability, and space.
If you are not a musician, you cannot know disappointment.

If you are not a musician you do not know competition. You cannot know competition. It is the knowledge that someone will always out-perform you, or the not-so-rare occasions where you contend with hundreds of others with more experience. In a fantasy, you dream of perfecting the arrangements with clear precision. For students, this is the Sisyphean attempt at transitioning into the real world, but their reality leaves them swimming in water 10 feet too deep.
If you are not a musician, you cannot know competition.

If you are not a musician you do not know sacrifice. You cannot know sacrifice. It ranges from the trivial things, such as an alteration to a school schedule, to life-changing occurrences. An itinerant artiste could forfeit her infant in order to trek in search of gigs. A teenager could lose her annual salary to opportunity cost--a bassoon posing more value than a computer--; a mother risks losing her son to indigence, just so she could let him shoot for the stars.
If you are not a musician, you cannot know sacrifice.

If you are not a musician you do not know joy. You cannot know joy. Only a musician could celebrate the performance of their first solo. Only a musician would be eager to learn new notes, rhythms, chords, and music. Only a musician would spend their weekend studying etudes instead of watching a movie. Music is teenage father who does not want to accept the responsibility of a child. Music is full of letdowns and misfortune, but it is the dreams it inspires, the peace it spreads, and the knowledge it reaps that make it so worthwhile.



Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

PurpleMidnight said...
Sept. 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm
Wow. This is amazing! Everything you say is so true. I am in Colorado's number one middleschool orchestra as a violinisy and this is so true. Keep on writing, you inspire me and many other :P.
 
Holly D. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm
Oh darn! When I posted this I did not realize it was my rough draft! Oh well, thanks so much guys. Sorry about the grammar errors, there are a lot of them and I forgot to hit spellcheck.
 
J.Joel said...
Sept. 16, 2009 at 8:08 pm
I am a musician and am practicing for an orcestra audition with only 30 or so chairs. The more i think about it, the more i realize it's true. Im makn' it my fav.
 
Rebecca24 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm
This was really nice. I like the repetition at the beginning of each paragraph. What attracted me at first was the title!
 
TheRightToDream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 16, 2009 at 9:49 am
This is SO true! Nobody fully understands what a musician goes for except for a musician. :D Great piece!
 
Site Feedback