The Pits MAG

By Jeffrey L., Harvard, MA

     The bow crosses over the metallic strings like a preemptory warning of a thunderstorm, in the form of a perfect fifth chord. The quiet pitter-patter of the audience hushes as the tuning comes to an end. Our tightly bound clique shudders in cold sweat as the raised platform designated as the “orchestra pit” of the Drama Society seems to capture the audience’s attention. No fun and games from this point on, for we have entered a violent squall. As the conductor flicks his baton upward, our eyes flash as if a bolt of lightning has struck. Our instruments bolt into the ready position.

I glance at the orchestra, the group of brave souls ready to follow me into the eye of the storm. Will I hit a wrong note? Will I stay in sync with the singer? Any mundane mistakes can start a chain reaction leading to a gigantic problem; a problem large enough to throw the entire orchestra into the grips of the tempest. Never in my life have I experienced such an electrifying nervousness, which leads me to question why I braved the weathers of the music world for the past nine years.

Sacrifices I’ve made for the violin play back in my head: grueling hours of practice when other children were sleeping over at friends’ houses, not having a weekend during my high school career because of orchestra rehearsals on Saturday and lessons on Sunday, staying up until two a.m. studying for a test after a performance ended at 11 p.m. All of these sacrifices sometimes prompt me to wonder if I have slaved away nine years of my life instead of enjoying them.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we now welcome you to the Bromfield Drama Society’s production of ‘The Music Man.’”

And a one, a two, a one - two - three - four. The thunderous roar of the brass circulates the theater as the overture strikes. Five lines complete, six lines, when will this end? The piece fares at a steady rate: everything in tune, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, a bolt of surprise electrocutes the entire orchestra. The lead actor unknowingly omits 50 measures of his song, throwing our ensemble into a tornado of confusion. The conductor scours the score for a solution to this power outage. The show must go on. I adeptly improvise a filling accompaniment, occasionally reiterating the melody in appropriate places, occasionally composing a harmonization with the singer. Soon the other musicians follow suit and recover to the original score. Our orchestra survives the gale calmly.

“That was the most beautiful and soulful ‘Goodnight My Someone’ I’ve ever heard. Your duet with the singer was absolutely gorgeous,” praises an unrecognizable fan as my attempts to slip past the thrilled mob in the lobby fail.

Why do I play the violin? Because it acts as a metaphor for my life. Times are sometimes cloudy, and unexpected storms strike. So what must one do? Improvise. And no matter how long one must improvise, it will always lead to a reward. I walk out of the theater smiling, for I know the storm is over, and I step out a wiser man.

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i love this so much!


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