I was talking with a friend today about fund raising, when something from my past came to mind. Once upon a time, I devoted my entire life to playing the flute. I still do not know exactly why I majored in English instead of music performance, but English felt right at the time. I spent most of my four years in college in the Music department, practicing flute way more than studying my English texts. But here's the story:
In the sixth grade, I wanted to be in the band in the worst way. I didn't figure we would be able to afford an instrument, but I had to ask anyway. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. My dad told me they would do everything they could to get me a flute, but I had to practice or it would be sold. I had to be serious about it. So, I played on the borrowed school flute for a while. The director let me come in at lunch and play too. We had a night meeting where the music stores brought in their instruments for sale. We looked at some used ones, but my parents just weren't liking them. I'm not sure why, because I knew a flute for me would be many sacrifices in other places. I didn't say a word, I just followed and watched. They settled on a brand new Artley flute and I was in AWE. My hands were shaking when I got home and took it from the case. I started practicing and played late into the night. My parents didn't even make me go to bed. By the night's end I was playing the last songs in the beginner songbook. Those were supposed to take me months to get to. This went on for many years. My junior year in high school, I auditioned for region band. I won first chair, beating about 500 other flute players. This meant I was ranked #1 in the eastern counties of SC. Now, if I had been a football player, this would have been on the news. I digress! Having made region band (they picked 12 flute players)I had the opportunity to audition for All-State band. I would complete against all the winners from every district in SC. Well, my flute broke. Two weeks before auditions. We went to have it repaired and the repairman said that it was just completely worn out. “How long do you practice each day?” The repairman couldn't understand how every pad, gear, screw was completely worn out. I had been practicing 2-3 hours everyday for 6 years. He said I needed a new flute – it was beyond repair. I went home empty handed and locked my room door and cried. Two weeks away from what I had worked so hard for and it was about to all be gone. A brand new flute was out of the question for us at this time. I prayed. I put it in the Lord's hands and asked for Him to help me. Saturday morning came around and my parents went to garage sales. When they came home my dad was beaming from ear to ear. He handed me a flute and said, “This lady bought it for her daughter who never practiced. It looks like new, and it was only $50. Play it for me and make sure it works." My dad, being raised Baptist, always wanted me to play “Amazing Grace.” I played. It was perfect. I was so happy.
Two weeks later, I auditioned for State and placed 8th chair. At this point I had won out over 550 players. As I sat in state band rehearsals, I was surrounded, ahead of me and below me by girls with $3000+ flutes. And there I was, the only one, with my $50 garage sale flute and I was still happy. If you want something bad enough, you take what you have and you give it 100%. Work your hardest, and you will be blessed. Our example was a child born in a stable and raised as a carpenter. Give it all you've got, never give up, and you will be happy. My parents had to ask me to STOP practicing. I drove them insane I know, but I'm so glad. Music has been a blessing in my life and it was worth every minute I practiced.
Work with what you have, add faith and hard work, and everything else falls into place.