An "easy" grade. by Jack Vieira

I am a lazy person. I like to relax, like the majority of people anywhere. In my old school though, I shouldn’t have been. It was too important to just wing it. But I still did. I did a lot of extra curricular activities in school. I was a part of the school band, for which we actually got a grade for. I joined later in the year, where the last instrument available was the xylophone. I thought it was an easy grade. I didn’t practice, and just played what I knew

I had to submit a video of me playing the xylophone for a grade.

This worked out fine for the first year and a half or so, until I was at the point where I couldn’t keep up whatsoever with the pieces we were performing. I was just too stubborn to see how bad I was doing. I denied any claims that I didn’t practice, but how I played reflected the amount of time I put in. My band teachers and classmates noticed this, and often commented about my obvious incompetence. I still continued, until the beginning of seventh grade, when I started taking lessons for a new instrument: bass guitar.

I took this immediately after getting my bass.

My first lesson was really cool. I learned right off the bat where each note was located, and how to play them. I put in a lot of work in to practicing it, but not the other, more important things, like my other instrument. In my school that winter, the band teacher organised a jazz band, where we would play more challenging songs for extra credit. I decided to play the bass part, because why not. I got the music, and took it to my next lesson. The guy who did the lessons was really helpful, and he helped me learn how to play the pieces. I played pretty decent. However, with my other instrument, which I still played, I wasn’t doing so well. I really struggled with it, and my band grades went down.

Sheet music I would have to play.

One of my friends, who did the extra credit thing the year before, told me that you had to have a good grade in the normal band to participate in the extra credit band. I was really worried, because I really enjoyed the extra credit band. Now, this is where I had to make a change. I knew that I wanted to be successful, and now I needed to straighten myself out. First, I had to prepare for the end of the year , where I played more. To do that, I labeled all of the pieces that I would play. After that, I practiced every day until the concert. For the bass part. I practiced every single part needed to play the bass, at my lessons and at home . A positive effect of this is that since then, I have never labeled music. I learned how to read sheet music legitimately.

A comment my bass instructor made during this was “It’s great to have a close deadline, since it makes you work so much more quickly, and you learn more from it.”

Me vs. My friends sheet music at the end of the year.

At the end of the year, we would have two major events: The end of the year concert, and a statewide music competition against other schools in the state. Luckily, at this point, I was improving greatly in both instruments. I didn’t have a problem whatsoever. My band teachers were really happy about the difference between my playing before and now, and so was I. At the end of the year concert and band competition, I played like I had never before. It showed me what I could do with actual effort.

We had to march in a parade.

That year, I moved back to Cumberland. A few days after the last day of school, I got a letter from my band teachers. One of the things they wrote was,

“I’m so proud of all your hard work over the past 3 years.”

This really meant a lot to me. I really made a change for myself, and that taught me a lesson. To make yourself successful, you have to change how you work, and work harder.

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