My first college essay for the Common Application..
The drum major was mid-beat and my mind went blank. My heart skipped a beat… It was the most frightening moment of my life. In front of a thousand spectators, a light-hearted flute solo was being played adjacent to me. A couple of seconds later, all eyes would be on me. My alto saxophone was illuminated underneath the looming, enormous stadium lights. And then it happened. It was my turn. The fingers attached to my hands seemed to move on their own accord. All that I knew was that I had to keep a monstrous amount of air flowing through this beast that I was trying to tame. One measure had gone and my memory had started to flood back. Two measures down and I understood. I understood how I had come to be in the possession of the saxophone solo at the beginning of a field show labeled “Fiddler on the Roof,” a true honor. I understood how my band director had chosen his soloists. I understood what it meant to lead. I was first introduced to the musical world around the age of 6. My mother implored me to take piano lessons. After the first lesson, I thought I was through. It turned out I had at least 5 more years to endure. My mother wanted me to experience learning another “language.” Learning how to read music was, in retrospect, one of the best courses of action I could’ve taken. The piano lessons had to stop, although they were fundamental in my musical education. Without piano lessons, I quickly became stagnant. However, elementary band started at the sixth-grade level. I became obsessed with drums. I wanted to learn the rhythms and techniques used when beating a snare drum. But I had to play the xylophone. After a year of the repulsive instrument, I wanted something more “hands on.” I wanted to play the saxophone. This turn of events made any alternatives disagreeable. Throughout my high school career, marching band ruled. From July to November, some of the only things rushing through my fast-paced mind were fundamentals, fingerings to difficult runs, and the fun bus rides to and from away games and competitions. If help was needed, a Section Leader was always nearby. Even if our halftime shows ranged from Irish to Tony Bennett or West Side Story to Fiddler on the Roof, marching band was someplace you could be yourself and not be afraid. It was a place where you could put forth effort and reap benefits, consistently. It was a place where, if you put forth the effort, you could be in that leadership position. Rising to an official leadership position was my opportunity. I was placed first chair alto saxophone and with this responsibility, came the title “Section Leader.” Now, I could really show potential and help serve the band and lead it to its greatest potential. Taking ownership of the saxophone section, I realized that being a leader was something special. It was someone whom others could look up to, someone that helped others in a time of need. A quality was present and it was one that would never be lost. But what was it? What exactly did this leadership position mean? My last year of high school had arrived: senior year. The show was entitled Fiddler on the Roof and I had the saxophone solo. To have this solo meant responsibility. Responsibility meant leadership. Leadership meant to serve others.