Europe and Band and Fun Oh My!

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At 11 years old, I’m walking in Italy, going to the colosseum, the leaning tower of pisa, taking a gondola through venice, traveling through Germany, Spain, Hungary, France, and  more. But how did I get here? The story begins when I was in second grade. My sister is four years older than me, when she was in fifth grade, she started playing the flute. I thought it would be fun if I tried too. In elementary school, you normally start band when you in fifth grade, but I started in third. I was the youngest person in the band, but, not to toot my own horn, I was one of the best flute players in the band. I also started playing the piccolo (a smaller version of the flute and also a lot more difficult to play) and got quite a few solos. I did beginning band in third grade, cadet band in fourth grade, concert in fifth grade, and I was in the top band (symphonic) all three years in middle school. Our church had a band who would often go on mission trips that my sister joined. She went to Detroit, Ohio, Atlanta, then eventually, Europe. She had so much fun, and I got kind of jealous. I wanted to join the band too.


In 2011 I joined.


I was, again, the youngest player. Rehearsals for the church band were murder, though, they went from 9 AM to about 4 PM. We had to do these things called sectionals, where a section of instruments would go to a room in the church and rehearse their part individually. Each group had a leader and would randomly pick someone to play a difficult part of the song. I, unfortunately, got picked on a lot because I was the youngest. I may have been the best in my school band, but not in this one. I eventually got the hang of the more difficult parts of the pieces, but when I couldn’t play them, I would just move my fingers while everyone else played, then continue playing the parts I knew. We did rehearsals every Saturday for about a month or two and played the songs in church.


Over the summer we traveled to Europe. We visited so many countries, and went to many different churches to play for them, and we had so much fun. My favorite places we visited were Italy and Spain. I love Italy so much with all the architecture and little cafes you can go to. My favorite thing to do, was to go into this little plaza where there’s a bunch of restaurants and cafes. There, there is about 200 pigeons just hanging around and you can buy food to feed them. If you pour some food into your hands and leave them held out, in a matter of a few seconds you won’t be able to see your arms, just pigeons. Spain was also very beautiful. Spain is a great place if you just wanna stay outside and enjoy the outdoors, and walk around. There is something about Spain that makes it super relaxing, and just a great place to enjoy yourself and get your mind off of things for your vacation.


We traveled by a coach bus in Europe, and it was so much fun. In the band, the flutes and the trumpets had a little rivalry going on. The trumpets thought they were better than the flutes, but the flutes though they were better than the trumpets (which we were). One day during a rehearsal, our band director was upset at the trumpets because they were coming in too soft on a song. For some reason that stuck with me during the trip. On the bus, we had speakers and a microphone so the director and pastor to make announcements. So one day, our band director made everyone in the band go up to the front of the bus and say something either good about the band, or something we could improve on. I was hiding because I’m pretty shy and I didn’t want to talk. But our band director went up and down the aisle picking people and he saw that I was hiding so, naturally, he picked on me. I went up looking confident, but I was dying inside. I go up there take the microphone and say “I think the band sounds pretty good. Except for the trumpets, they need to come in stronger on this song.”


Everyone was shocked. This little 11 year old girl just dissed the trumpet section in front of everyone. The flute section, of course, was so very proud of me. Oh boy did I get an earful after that. Literally. The first chair trumpet (if you don’t know, the first chairs of any instrument always play the most important parts the loudest. Meaning an octave or two higher.) was very upset with me after that. During a concert, he decided to set up his chair directly behind me, and point the bell of his trumpet right by my ear. He played that trumpet louder than he ever has. Even the director was laughing while he was directing.  I still see the player sometimes and I am always reminded of the time I dissed the entire trumpet section in front of everyone. 
It was a super fun trip, and I miss it a lot. On our free days, we would go touring the city we were in. I remember when we were in Italy, we were going to go sight seeing. Now, the roads in Italy are very narrow, if you go there you will notice the cars they drive, are tiny two-person cars.


We had a coach bus.


Our bus driver was amazing. He had to pull out of the hotel parking lot and drive down a narrow, winding road, with other cars parked on the side. He came so close to bumping cars, at least 2 centimeters in between, but he made it through without hitting anything. We had so many great adventures in the bus, such as our bus driver playing extremely annoying songs that we would all try to cover up by singing songs super loud.
For some reason, our church made us sing in between band songs. We would sing a couple of songs, and then the boys would have to go up in front of everyone and sing. There was one older guy in particular who thought it would be funny to scream a higher note one day, so then, every single time they would sing that song again, we would give the microphone directly to him. Then we would play a few more songs, and then the girls would go up and sing. The girls also had to wear these hideous scarves for whatever reason. These weren’t like normal scarves like you’re probably think of. They were made from a sort of tulle material and were about the size of a bandana. We all hated them. There was no way to make them look nice. We tried tying them around our heads like a headband. That didn’t work. We tried tying them around our wrists.That, also, didn’t work. So me and my sister had chosen to tie them around our necks, and into a little bow on the side. That quickly became the best way to wear them.


After then I didn’t go on anymore trips with the band. They do a big trip like the Europe one, every other year. I never thought that 5 years later, I would play with them again. I quit playing in the school band after 8th grade and didn’t touch my flute since then. I actually came back to the church band last year, at the good ole age of 17, I wasn’t the youngest this time, and did two Christmas concerts. It’s really crazy how no one really changed. There was the same happy vibe from all the original members of the band, and the new ones too. It felt like I never even left. It felt like just a break. One in the Rosemont mall, and the other at a Church in downtown Chicago.






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