Meadville, PA: Music was my passion. Every day I heard melodies in my head and played harmonies on the piano. I wrote, played and recorded, with each new sound the beginning of a new adventure, each visit to the piano the discovery of a new musical world. Most were forgotten but some took root and expanded into song sketches. Then Tony, a great guitarist and singer, came to teach at my school. He said he would play any songs I had written and so I wrote twice as many, thrilled at the idea.
When he told me one day that he was moving, I sat on my front porch steps, head in my hands. All those songs, all that work; it was useless now. Besides, it had been a ridiculous undertaking in the first place. Suddenly music lost its edge. For days, every rambling drugstore jingle, every passionate Beethoven blaze - they all lost the power to amuse me. I was a grouchy, grumbling failure, and music was but bits of crumbling fluff off some cloud of heavenly idiocy. I tried not touching the keyboard for a week, ate ice cream, watched TV, and cursed silently at all music but nothing soothed my pitiful frustration. Music was dead.
Then camp swung around*- The Allegheny Summer Music Festival. The name made me cringe. A week of music, a place where you practice all day long, where music concerts and workshops abound? I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the thought. Nevertheless, I endured 15 hours in the car, then slumped my way into the center to receive a dorm key and camp T-shirt. Inside I couldn’t help but notice the violinist and pianist below a 30-foot painting of the camp’s logo playing softly flickering notes from atop a stage.
The days that followed were intense, involved and extraordinary. To walk down a hallway was to hear pianos, violins, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, singers and percussionists, each pouring its own expression into a whirling, ecstatic torrent of notes. And I, though not aware of it at the time, was brought to life again. How could I not have been?
I found myself practicing six hours a day and loving it. Often my piano trio (a violinist, cellist and I) would play our piece-in-progress for Dr. Chien, one of the professors. He would dance around the room as we played, shouting “Faster, faster!” and stomping his foot. And when the piece ended, he’d clap and begin a grand speech, delivering tips, ideas and even leaving us notes that would later give the piece a thrilled kind of soul.
Dr. Chien’s energy was reflected in the whole camp. Everyone laughed and played music and sang and danced to different sounds. It was incredible, all these kids my age with such a love for song; it whipped dazzling energy
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.