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

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   I scratched at my itchy stockings once again. It was only two minutes until we, the orchestra, would enter the stage for our part of the performance. What a cold March day it was, when I was the principal trombone in the Middle School Northern Regional Music Festival. Or more aptly phrased by the band directors, "that huge waste of time with those bratty, adolescent string players." As I squirmed my toes in my one-size-too-large patent leather hand-me-downs, I remembered how it had all begun ...

"Meredith? Meredith, what are you still doing at home? It's 9:30; the bus for auditions left an hour ago! Just go to the audition place," cried my mother from one hundred miles away over the scratchy phone.

I took my groggy body as fast as I could through the regular morning tasks of showering and eating. Praying that "Chief" (as we fondly called our band director, Mr. McIvor) wouldn't kill me for being late, I grabbed my brother and hurried to the site of the auditions.

Running through the crowded halls, I was unsure whether I really wanted to find Chief, not knowing what doom would assault me. On my third round of the building, I finally found them.

Chief looked at me sternly. "Sit."

"I didn't mean to ..."

"Sit."

I sullenly took my place next to him on the floor, where I would have to wait for hours until my audition. While we sat, I looked over my part, remembering how the year before I had bravely marked the hardest piece in my book as my audition piece for this year. I was playing Concertino Petite, an exciting "10" piece with high G's and millions of accidentals. No matter how hard I had to practice, I loved the piece.

"Healy!" barked Mr. McIvor

I tried to squeak out an answer, "Yes?"

"The line over there's pretty short. Go audition and meet us back in the car." He paused and noticed my slight apprehension.

"Don't worry about it," he said gently. "Remember what I always tell you: it's the judges' honor to hear you play."

I smirked at his attempt to cheer me up, but remembering that this was my last year in Middle School Regionals, I muttered a thank you and went off to attempt my final chance at being principal trombone. Waiting for my turn to enter Room 311, I looked at my piece and went over Chief's assurances:

It's their honor to hear me play. It's their honor to hear me play. It's their honor to hear ...

"Hey Mer! Meredith! It's time to go on, kid."

Mr. McIvor's voice brought me roughly back to the present. I scratched my itchy stockings one more time before walking on stage. The lights glared at the usual concert level - burn your face off and make you sweat like a pig - high. I glanced nervously at Mike and Scott, the other trombonists, who were actually looking to see what I would do. It's their honor to hear you play.

I confidently sat down and put my music in order. I double-checked under my chair for my spray bottle and mute. Everything was set. The festival coordinator began his speech about how we were "the best orchestra ever in the festival," the same speech he made every year.

The conductor was announced and stepped onto the podium. Sweat beaded my forehead and made the grip on my slide slippery. It's their honor to hear you play.

The conductor looked around to make sure everyone was ready. I took a second glance at Mike and Scott, their brows furrowed in concentration. This was it: my final year. I was the principal trombone, I knew these pieces by heart. Yet, still, I was nervous.

The conductor raised his arm to ready for the down beat. I took a breath. It's their honor to hear you play.

With a ferocious attack on my accents and miles of air streaming through my trombone, I began. I played magnificently.

We struggled through Overture to Rienzi. We danced through Russian Sailor's Dance. And we marched through Stars and Stripes Forever.

We played for 23 minutes.

I was wearing a black concert dress and my mother's patent leather shoes.

I remember it exactly.

It was their honor to hear me play. fl


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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