People say high school is a time for finding yourself. I feel like high school is more a time for doubting yourself. Doubting yourself, working hard, and wondering why on Earth you’re still trying when you just want to go to bed.
Colleges love students who play weird instruments (that is what my English teacher calls an “abrupt segue.” Stay with me though, there’s a connection). A friend of mine got a $10,000 scholarship for playing marimba and kazoo. No, I’m not making that up. He wasn’t even very good! But as a general rule, you have to be kind of good. Unlike with instruments like flute or violin, where you have to be the next Mozart for it to even help you get in, if you play viola (or any other instruments that, when you mention them to a nonmusical friend, they say “You play what?”), you just have to be a little involved in your orchestra, be able to play some halfway decent scales, and be good at faking when the music’s a little tricky.
Unfortunately, my director has never understood “good enough.” He only understands “that was good; now do it better.” So instead of relaxing and wasting time on the internet, which is what I want to be doing, or studying for the SAT and doing my summer reading, which I should be doing, I’m practicing my viola three to four hours a day.
I know that if I do, I’ll stand a good chance at making the All-State orchestra in October, which I do really want. I know that if I make All-State, it’ll be great for college, give me a good essay topic on the importance of hard work and never giving up, and maybe land me a scholarship for college, or, more quickly, camps or workshops (which often offer “general applicants fees” and “All-State applicants fees”). But honestly, it’s really, really hard to remember that sometimes.
At this point, I’m starting to wonder if I maybe should have chosen an easier hobby. Perhaps I could take up the accordion (bonus points if you can play it), the harpsichord (bonus points for anyone who has actually seen one. I never have, in five years of orchestra), or maybe the celeste (bonus points if you even know what this is. Double bonus if you’ve added the word to your word processor dictionary). I bet if I played those, colleges would be pounding down my door, begging me to go there.
Then again, I doubt they have a whole lot of orchestral positions for accordionists, if that’s the term. The best thing about viola playing is there’s always empty seats in the section, so it isn’t hard to place, and place well. The worst thing, I think, is that most other viola players aren’t very serious about what they do (yes, I know; ironically, that’s just two sides of the same coin).
I do think, though, that All-State or no, I want to continue playing in an orchestra through college. I don’t know yet if that will be my major (if I keep up the practicing, I should have some idea if it’s my cup of soup soon enough), or if I’ll just be in the campus music program… But I think either way, orchestra has been a lot of fun, even when practicing for competition hasn’t been, and I’d love for it to stay that way. I guess time will tell, on that one.