The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The next one to make it

I have a theory.

I call it a theory because I haven’t had enough life experience to say that it works every time.

My theory is this: If and when you legitimately put forth your best effort, you will eventually succeed.

I’ve been called cynical, pessimistic, sarcastic. I like to call it realistic; the rest of the world doesn’t always see it that way. But last week, something happened that made me look at the world through rose-colored glasses for the first time in a while.

About a month ago, I auditioned for the Kansas Music Educators Northeast District Orchestra. It was the nerve-wracking kind audition where you learn two scales and three excerpts and play them for judges who are sitting behind a wall of newspapers. Districts is kind of a big deal; more than 300 string players audition every year. Only about 100 make it.

I’ve auditioned every year since I was a sophomore. The first time, I got lucky and made it. Last year, I wasn’t prepared for my audition and it didn’t go well.

This year, I thought I was ready. My private lesson teacher told me I sounded as good as I ever had. I was feeling pretty confident.

I was the eighteenth person to audition. The perfect spot. I had enough time to warm up, but not too much time to get nervous. I ate a banana (which supposedly calms nerves). I played through my scales and excerpts.

As I walked back to the auditorium of the Baldwin Intermediate Center after my audition, orchestra teacher Jeffrey Bishop asked me how it went.

“I think I played the best I possibly could have,” I said.

Three hours later, I got the text message informing me that I didn’t make it.

I might have cried a little bit.

Last Tuesday, I walked into my fourth hour orchestra class and Bishop called me into his office. He shut the door behind me.

No one ever gets called into Bishop’s office unless they’re in trouble.

But instead of yelling at me, like I was expecting, Bishop proceeded to tell me that I was the next violin in line to make the district orchestra. And a violinist from another school had backed out. He still had to check with a few people, but he thought I was in.

I didn’t even know what to say.

Except to panic just a little bit about having to learn the music in four days.

At the end of class, Bishop checked his email, turned around and gave me a thumbs up. I was in.

I just smiled, a lot.

Even if I was the last, lowest scoring violinist to make districts, I made it. It’s like getting an 89.5 percent as a semester grade. An ‘A’ is an ‘A.’ And everyone with an ‘A’ gets to audition for the All-State Orchestra in mid-January.

I worked really hard preparing for that audition, and I thought I knew what I was doing. When I didn’t make it, it was like my best effort wasn’t good enough for anyone. And you know what that feels like?

It feels terrible.

Not everyone who thought they played their best suddenly makes the orchestra at the last minute. The stars don’t always align quite that perfectly. Most of the time, recognition is much subtler than that. But maybe in the end, we all get exactly what we deserve, even if the timing is a little delayed.

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The next one to make it