November 29, 2009
By , Arlington, TX
One word summarized me in elementary school and junior high: timid. Attending parties, speaking to people, even standing in a crowd was a challenge. I shied away from any form of social contact. Tangled in a web of fear and an overwhelming lack of confidence, I was unable to get anywhere, stumbling clumsily and silently through the years. Sure, my academic achievement was an accomplishment to be proud of, but this thin veil of glory did little to hide the fact that I could not realize my dreams through academic achievement alone. Though in secret I nurtured a desire to help others in any way I could, I failed to act on my desires because I lacked the self-confidence to. However, through the help of music, I have set my life on the path that I have paved for it, and this is the greatest achievement of my life.
I first fell in love with playing music in fourth grade when my general music class introduced me to the recorder. I loved the airy notes that floated from my horn as I blew. I loved to hear the small black dots come to life with the help of my recorder. Then, the fifth grade presented me with my first step out of my diffidence. When I reached fifth grade, I joined the choir. I loved to hear my voice blend harmoniously with those of the rest of the choir. Choir gave me the chance to step out of the background. As in many pieces of music, my choir music included a number of solos and small ensembles. With my mother’s support, I auditioned for a short solo and a small four-person ensemble. I made both parts. During the concerts that followed, I would step out of my place in the front row with my heart pounding and sing out my part. Though trembling with fear from being exposed, I fought my way through it by concentrating on my music, and through my music, I survived. The next year, I discovered a natural aptitude for the oboe. Throughout the sixth grade, I practiced almost daily, striving to improve my tone from honky to beautiful. However, it would be in high school that I would, with the help of music, gain the confidence I needed to start acting on my feelings.
Music, in the form of high school marching band, presented me with opportunities that I, with the encouragement of my mother and courage dredged up from some unknown reserve within me, cautiously grasped. Taking a risk, I auditioned for the position of drum major, the highest honor a student can hold in the band. Determined to give it my all, I diligently practiced conducting in every spare moment I was able to find. After school and full orchestra rehearsal, I met with past drum majors to practice and receive advice on how to better my conducting patterns. As the past drum majors critiqued my patterns, I strived to correct them, for I had set my mind on receiving the position. Surprisingly, though I was merely a junior competing against seniors, the band directors bestowed upon me the position of drum major. This achievement marked the turning point in my life. A few weeks after the audition, summer band rehearsals arrived in a wave of blazing heat, and I found myself with more responsibilities than ever before. I ran the metronome for rehearsals, helped to quiet the band so the directors could speak, taught basic marching fundamentals to new marchers and did as much as I could to help the band.
The consequences that came from my position as drum major are apparent and extremely beneficial to my future. By having to force myself through day after day of grueling rehearsals in the scorching Texas sun and getting rewarded with my school's steady reputation as the best marching band in the city, I realized the importance of pushing towards a goal. Though at times, such as when rivers of sweat would run down my face and soak my back, giving up seemed rather tempting, I drove onward and was ultimately rewarded. Furthermore, placed in front of a two hundred-member band, I was forced to become more outgoing, and I found that my pre-performance nerves eased and I was more comfortable around people. However, that is merely a fraction of the changes that I underwent. Thanks to the pressure of making our marching show enjoyable and successful, I discovered that I had gained confidence in myself. I have gained the ability to take control of a situation to better it. I have always been an exceptionally considerate person, always searching for ways to help those around me, but I could never act upon my feelings because I kept to myself in my diffidence. With the confidence I gained from being a drum major, I discovered that I had no trouble helping others when once I could not. For example, when a freshman trumpet player butted heads with the trumpet leadership members, I managed to intervene and soothe the situation, unraveling the freshman’s frustration while easing the tension in the section. I am unbelievably grateful that my leadership position has helped me to do what I love: help people in any way possible, preparing me for my medical career in which I aim to save lives. It no longer matters that the people in need are strangers to me for I have the self-confidence to do all that I can to better their situations.
Looking back at the limited, timid child I once was, I am so grateful for music’s help in pushing me to become a more successful person, for making it possible for me to act on my desire to make life better for people in any way that I can. My triumph over my diffidence and lack of confidence through music to gain the ability to do what I love the most is by far the most significant achievement in my life.

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