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Life in the Pits This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Last year I was faced with a most horrific problem: the high-school musical wascoming, and I didn't want to sing. Now, I don't have the worst voice, but I'm notexactly solo material, either. And even though I'd secured the part of GeneralCartwright in a middle-school production of "Guys and Dolls," I knewthat as a mere freshman there was no way I could compete with juniors and seniorsfor leading roles. It just didn't work that way. And so, for the two weeks beforeauditions, I moped around asking anyone and everyone what I should do.

Twodays before the dreaded audition, my best friend finally knocked some sense intome (I had the marks on my shoulder to prove it, too), screaming loud enough forthe entire lunchroom to hear: "For goodness sake, Rosemary, just be in thepit orchestra with your piccolo!"

And so it came to be. Afterconsulting with the band teacher, I was accepted into the pit orchestra for ourproduction of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

To make a long story short, after three months of rehearsals, wepresented our musical. I was devastated when it was over, and not just because Ihad put my entire life into the play, but because I realized how unappreciated wewere. I was shocked to find only a tiny paragraph listing the pit's 20 names inthe play bill the drama club made, and was upset that no one congratulated usafter the performance. I knew we had done a fabulous job; the pit orchestra wasgreater than any group I had ever worked with.

When I complained to theconductor, he explained that pit orchestras are never really appreciated, andthat most of the time audience members just expect the music to be there. Hiswords inspired me to write this piece, and hopefully after reading it,theatergoers will realize just how important we pits really are.

Audiencemembers don't realize how hard a pit orchestra works. When the musical closed, mylips were swollen for weeks. My fingers hurt from pressing the keys of mypiccolo, and I had a difficult time playing in my regular band class. Pitorchestras work just as hard to prepare as the singers on stage: the week beforeour first performance, we missed two days of school to rehearse from 9 a.m. to 5p.m., and then rehearsed two days from 5 p.m. until midnight. And that was afterweeks of a regular rehearsal schedule! Before I had the chance to experience whatit was like in a pit, I had no idea they worked so hard.

But perhaps thething that bothers me most is the amount of recognition a pit orchestra gets:Nada. Zip. Zero. While the performers bow, the pit is playing, and so we simplyreceive nods or gestures of acknowledgment from those in the spotlight. But thinkabout it, folks. What if there wasn't a pit? How dreadfully boring.

It istime people recognize the world's pit orchestras. Our work goes unappreciatedand, in many cases, unnoticed. I plan to perform in the pit orchestra for themusical this spring, and I'm not accepting the same treatment. Let theinstrumentalists come onstage and take a bow, for once. Put our names in theplaybill right next to the singers and dancers, and in larger than five-pointtype, please. If people are made aware of how hard we really work, of how muchtime and effort it takes to create a pit orchestra, maybe our audience thisspring will give a standing ovation for the folks gathered in the shadows,gallantly clutching instruments and tooting along.

After all, what's amusical without the music?




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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