Photo by Jacquelyn Rodriguez
Once upon a time, I was an “orch dork.” I was an avid violin player throughout middle school and high school. I joined chamber orchestra, attended countless rehearsals, and performed in multiple concerts, competitions, and gigs. I made unforgettable memories with the other orchestra kids and our wonderful teacher. I was living the orchestra dream until suddenly, I wasn’t anymore. Problems with staffing, a lack of funding, squabbles with administrators that didn’t appreciate music programs…you know the story.
The dream just came to an end. I suppose what I missed the most was the community I had found through music. Playing on my own just wasn’t as fun compared to the memories I would replay in my mind. Over time, I lost the motivation to play altogether, so there in the corner my violin sat, collecting dust, growing more and more out of tune, and missing its long rehearsal sessions. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when my former orchestra teacher invited me to a music night with other chamber students. Overcome with a wave of nostalgia, I leapt at the opportunity.
When I arrived on the special evening, I could hear violin, viola, and cello playing in the distance, creating a melody I had long since forgotten how to play myself. I gripped the cool handle of my instrument case and took a deep breath. It had been three years since I played with my old chamber group, or even seen them for that matter, so I guess the jitters were getting the best of me.
Looking back, I don’t exactly know what I was so worried about. Once I greeted my former orchestra teacher, found a stand partner, and tuned my long-neglected violin, the nervousness melted away. We played through many pieces, a few of which I remembered, many of which I had forgotten. My playing was a bit rusty, but the group gave me the confidence to improve with each attempt. Breathing together, counting together, and listening to each others’ playing, I felt myself getting lost in the music once again. When the song ended, I took in my surroundings, realizing I had once again found myself in a space with people seeking to create something beautiful together.
Ms. Monica Muñoz, my beloved orchestra teacher and my inspiration to start playing again, says the following about how music brings people together:
“There has never been a civilization that existed on this planet without music. Playing music well with others requires an immense amount of eye contact, movement, balance, and an interpretation that everyone agrees with. I’ve met and shared wonderful relationships with people through the vessel of music, and I am eternally grateful for each connection.”