Endings are beginnings. They provide the possibility of a new adventure, a new journey that could be even greater than what we started with. The ending of the first book in a series is the beginning of the next one. The closing of a school year is the opening of a new summer. Endings inspire, create, and continue on. My new beginning was at the end of a month-long band trip to Europe, and it started with the end.
On a sticky July evening, 53 high school band students gathered one final time to perform a concert together. We had spent a month bouncing all over northern Europe on a four-week tour. Our final performance would be held in a small town in eastern Belgium. It was our last stop before we departed for America the
We were seated in a spacious, modern church; every word and whisper bounced off the walls. I was in the back of the ensemble with the rest of the trumpet section, where I could see the raw emotion in everyone’s eyes as they realized that this was our final performance together.
This was the end, and everyone knew it. What I did not know was that by the end of the concert, I would find my new beginning.
The stout, aged conductor on the podium greeted the audience in their language, and then again in English. I hung on every word he said. He turned, raising his arms with a gleam in his eyes, and gave the first downbeat to the opening piece.
My heart and mind was overwhelmed with the music I was playing, the sights before me, and the emotions I was feeling. Every note resonated with the knowledge that I would never play it again. Sunlight glimmered off brass instruments and music stands. Notes came alive and danced in the air. Throughout the concert, only one thing was on my mind: I absolutely loved what I was doing, and I was doing what I loved.
It was time for the closing piece. Our hearts beat like drums in our chests. We waited at the edge of our seats in anticipation, silently thanking one another with our eyes. Thanking our bandmates for the memories, thanking them for the love, thanking them for the music. As we performed the final piece, something clicked.
A sign. A feeling. A desire to do this for the rest of my life. No, not a desire. A need. A complete necessity for my own happiness now and for my future. I wanted to make music like this forever. In that moment, I found my next adventure. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
I poured my heart into the final song, and I felt complete, full of light and love. I realized exactly what music was and what it did for me, and I drank in all of it. This was the ending that sparked the greatest beginning I could ever imagine: my decision to devote my life to performing and teaching music to others. As I swept my eyes across the ensemble, my heart filled with pride and love. As the song ended, we all looked at each other.
A whispered “thank you” from our director. A silence that somehow felt full. A decision, a choice, an ending, and a beginning.
After the concert, I sat with my friends on the stone steps outside the church. We talked about my realization during the concert – music was more than chair placements, tuning notes, and black symbols on white pages. It was not simply noise to fill the room.
It is a way of living, a necessity. I wanted to – needed to – make music the focus of my life.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.