Challenging the Status Quo

By , Wyckoff, NJ

Music has always been a big part of my family. At family parties, we would all gather in a room and just play and listen to music. My grandpa held the nickname as the piano man at his retirement complex because he was always at the piano in the rec center. My oldest brother played piano, clarinet,  and saxophone. He was an avid member of his grammar and middle school bands and even took part in the high school marching band. My other older brother Nick was also in the band and played piano and an assortment of brass instruments. So when it was finally my turn to play in the band, I was ecstatic. I had already been to what seemed like hundreds of concerts and heard my brothers practice for countless hours in the basement. I was ready.


Once fourth grade rolled around band started. This was not like the past years of recorders and plastic drum sets. This was a real band with percussion, woodwinds, and brass, the whole nine yards. In the beginning of the year, everyone filled out a sheet and picked their instruments. Soon we were learning notes and eventually songs in no time. It was fun because you were with all your friends in the band and everyone did it. After school, we would click open our cases and play and try to show off how good we had already got. It sounded awful but we were having fun. In school, we would all talk about our instruments bragging to each other about how one was better than the other and everyone was really into it.


The fifth grade was where things started to change. I walked into my band class the first day of fifth grade to see the once 35-person band reduced to 20. My trumpet section of 10 soon turned into three. I leaned over to my friend in my section asking where the rest of the band was. He told me that they all quit and this is the whole band. This was not the end of it either. The next day people started bringing in notes and one by one they would disappear from the class and we soon went from 20 to 13. Things had changed. No one would talk about band anymore. People would keep their head down and move fast when they carried in their instruments, not walk around in pride like they used to. The kids that would play after school were looked at as weird and it wasn't cool. Even I felt ashamed to pick up my trumpet and walk in the halls. It felt like the case just has loser written all over it. Even some of the best people in the band started to quit and the overall sound started to go down. It just seemed like the band was a sinking ship and everyone was trying to jump off before its inevitable end.


The night before the 3rd day of school I sat in my bed thinking about the band. I want to ask my parents to quit. I had no point being in the band, it just didn’t feel the same. I got looked at strange when I walked through the halls with my instrument. I felt like an outsider.  But, before I asked my parents I decided to think long on why I wanted to quit. It wasn’t because I didn’t like it. I loved playing music. I go home and practice for hours. The real reason I wanted to quit is due to the fact that everyone else did. It was not my opinion at all. It was what my peers thought. I, along with a lot of other people, was just following the path set by others. While questioning this path I wondered if my friends really would affect my band experience. I would still be playing music I liked, having fun, and learning. So, I decided to stay in the band.


The band didn’t crash and burn like everyone, including me, thought it would.  We had one of the best bands to go through the grammar school while also being the smallest. Six years later I still am in the band and I don’t think I’ll ever quit. Despite what the social norm may say, it is not wrong to do what you love. I thought that everyone had to say that it was cool for it to be cool, but in reality, it doesn't matter what others think, it's what you think. If you act like it's uncool and you are shy about it then people are going to think exactly that. If I had quit the band, I could only imagine how different my life would be. My friends would be different and even my personality wouldn't be the same. I am grateful that I hadn’t quit in the 5th grade because I would not have gotten to learn such a fun thing that I can continue to do for the rest of my life.






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