When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for my first music lesson. “Lesson” was a far-cry statement – it was a teacher with four five-year-olds sitting in a circle creating a ruckus with the various instruments in the room. Despite what the lesson actually was, that was when my music career began. Nine months later, I would begin taking private piano lessons – one thirty-minute-lesson every week – with my parents urging me to practice during the hours in between. I did not enjoy practicing. I guess my attention span was not long enough, or I just did not have the discipline to practice. About a year later, I tried to learn the guitar, but it did not work too well for me. In the end, I decided to just stick with the piano.
Like most third-graders I knew, I was required to play the recorder for music class. I had a unique liking to the instrument – something about it was just so appealing. As a result, I was one of the better players in my class. In fifth grade, I had the option to join the band program. I hesitated, and missed my chance to join. Luckily, the band teacher still let me join two weeks later after my constant pleading. I chose to play the saxophone – it was similar to the recorder, and I was able to pick it up very quickly. Had it not been for my band teacher, who would eventually become my saxophone teacher, I would have never thought about learning how to play the saxophone.
My first concert came three months later. Everything was new to me – the nerves, the butterflies, the feeling of everyone watching you play. When I played a solo for the first time, it was something that I have never felt before. The excitement and the relief when I was done both brought proud smiles to my lips. To this very day, every solo has felt the same: I am nervous at first, but once the nerves go away, I just let the notes ring out. In that moment, I am the only one in the entire room. There are no longer eyes watching me.
Up until sixth grade, I performed only because I had to. There were two concerts or recitals every year, serving to help me “share musical knowledge.” It was not until eighth grade that I began to truly love performing. I played on the street, at gatherings, and for bands outside of school. It did not matter where the venue was, or whether I was playing a solo or in an ensemble. I seized every opportunity to perform not only as a way to please others, but also to please myself. There are so many powerful things music can do, and I am fortunate that I have the ability to partake in it.
Julian Yang is a IV Form boarding student from Chelmsford, Massachusetts. He plays hockey, rows, and enjoys photography and playing the saxophone.