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A Musical Challenge This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Everyoneneeds a goal to give meaning and direction to life. Mine was to be a member ofthe New York All-State Band. I play the bassoon, a hard-to-play and lesswell-known member of the woodwind family. To make it into the band, I needed ahigh score on a level-six piece during my audition. I chose to prepare Hummel'sConcerto in F Major.

Learning the piece requires extreme effort andconcentration. It has a fast tempo, and took much practice to teach my fingers toskip from note to note. The solo commences with a pure, floating Baroque melody,and the deep, mellow tones of the bassoon brilliantly portray the mood. I imaginefigures wearing elaborate ball gowns waltzing in a golden castle.

Ipracticed every day, and despite its difficulty, playing the Concerto couldalways lighten my mood. I never grew weary of those two hundred lovely measures.I practiced all through the school year, every day setting aside one hour of mybusy schedule. After each exhausting sports practice, I dutifully played mybassoon and then attempted to finish my homework before my eyes could not stayopen anymore. I did not have time to watch television and only had a few minutesto eat. I became more confident in my solo as the audition drewcloser.

Finally, the day arrived. I knew I could play the Hummel Concertowell. I walked into the assigned classroom and smiled at the judge. He justglared back at me, and at that point I began to get nervous. Fellow musicstudents had warned me about an evil judge who loved to present hard-workingmusicians with low grades. My audition might be more difficult than Ithought.

The judge began by having me play the G-flat, E and D-flatscales. Although they usually challenged me, I had practiced them. As I playedthe E scale, though, I made one small mistake. The judge frowned and scribbledsomething on the audition slip. I reasoned that one mistake could not cost me toomany points.

I nodded to my accompanist and started my solo. I barelyhad to look at the music because of the many hours I had practiced. My fingersnimbly leapt up and down my bassoon as if they knew what to do without help frommy brain. I played my beloved music better than I ever had. I would have smiledhad a reed not been in my mouth. The judge complimented me after the last perfectnote, then asked me to play the second movement.

A jolt of pain shotthrough my stomach and a horrified look crawled across my face. My instructor hadtold me I only needed to prepare the first movement for the audition. I tried toexplain that to the judge as tears clouded my vision, but he said he couldn'tgrade me unless I played the second movement. My accompanist said she was sorryand left the room so I could sight-read the movement alone. I had never playedit. I started, and after what seemed like hours of fumbling through strangemelodies, the judge told me to stop and leave the room.

I felt I hadwasted an entire year of my life. Depression followed me everywhere for weeks. Icouldn't help but walk around with a dejected look on my face. Every time Ilooked at my bassoon case, my throat constricted and tears came to my eyes. Myinstructor explained that even though I didn't achieve my dream, I'd learnedvaluable musical knowledge. I still love music, even though I didn't achieve mygoal. Music had become an important part of my life. I will never give up on mygoal of sharing my love of music with the world.




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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