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The beginning of my journey in music started in first grade. My school was very small; there were only about 40 students in my entire eighth grade graduation class, but we were very lucky to have a violin teacher there. My start was nothing original. At six years old I wanted to take lessons because my best friend had started playing violin and I wanted to have something in common with them. I had to beg my parents for a whole year before I was finally able to begin my lessons; they didn’t believe that it was something I would take seriously. But I instantly took a liking to playing, and while my friend quit that very same year, I continued on.

My first teacher, Mrs. Coffman, was great and I could not have asked for someone better to introduce me to the violin. We had three or four solo recitals every year and two concerts for the small string orchestra we were able to put together from our student body consisting of four violins, two cellos, and one viola. It was at one of these performances when I knew that playing violin was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My teacher had invited an alumnus from our school who was just graduating college to come back to perform at one of our recitals. The piece he played was jaw-dropping to my nine-year-old self, and as I sat in the car on the way back home after the recital was over I exclaimed to my parents that I was going to play just like that when I was older.

It has been 11 years since I have started playing violin and while it has had its ups and downs, I am so happy that I have stuck with it because it gives so much to me. There are so many experiences that I would have missed out on such as playing in orchestras and festivals, meeting people who also have a love for playing music that I wouldn’t have had if I quit every time I failed an audition or when I was scolded by my teacher. And I am excited to see what my future in music will bring me.

Speaking of the future, the next big step in mine is college. I have had one audition so far, but I would like to share some advice that I have found very helpful that helped me a bit through the process:

  1. It’s okay not to have every step of your life planned out when you’re in high school: Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have a plan for your future or at least a general idea of what you want to do. But I also think that it is equally important to be open to change. After all, college is all about seeing what you like and what you want to do with your future. In my sophomore year of high school I had no idea what I wanted to pursue in college. I had the idea of majoring in English, but I knew that I also wanted to play violin in college, although I didn’t really know what that entailed. If you’re in this situation, I would recommend attending a music festival over the summer. I went to Sewanee and that was one of the factors that made me certain that music was what I wanted to pursue. At music festivals, or at least at Sewanee you get a music college experience for a month in the summer and I really enjoyed it.
  2. Don’t think of auditions as a competition. In a sense, college auditions are a competition, but that way of thinking stressed me out so much. It was much better for me to think about it like a personal challenge. Rather than focusing about how everyone else is doing and listening to their pieces through the walls of practice rooms, listen to your own playing. In your audition, just focus on playing your best and not worry about how anyone else played in their audition. I’ll admit, it is very, very difficult to not compare yourselves to others but try as best as you can to ignore them.

If music is something that you really want to do with your future, just go for it. It takes hard work to reach your goals, but trust me they are achievable.


Photo of Evan Campbell

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