"Why don't you learn how to play the violin or the trumpet? You'll never beable to play that thing. It's almost the same size asyou!"
"But, Mom, I want to play a real instrument that's in theband. Saying I play the keyboard makes me sound stupid and wimpy since a keyboardis not in even a band instrument!"
"But why does it have to bethe tuba?"
Oh yes, I had many arguments with my parents aboutlearning to play the tuba. I hate when people tell me that I cannot do something,it makes me want to do it even more. I also like to do things that nobody elsedoes. How many female tuba players have you seen? Although nobody thought I couldlearn to play the brass king, I am now known as the Tuba Goddess.
It wasalmost the end of the school year and Mr. Breese was ranting and raving about ourband's rating at a contest. The critique said that we didn't have enoughintonation, and that a keyboard bass wasn't what the judges wanted to hear.Somebody asked what intonation was and he said that we needed a deeper, low-wavefrequency. A light bulb went on in my head, and after class, I told him I wantedto learn the tuba over the summer. Mr. Breese's face lit up like a child who hadjust mastered riding a bike.
"You will? Oh, boy! I am so excited!You can start lessons Monday, right after school gets out."
At myfirst lesson, I was pretty excited to play a real band instrument, and Mr. Breesewas ecstatic. He kept giving me high fives and the smile on his face stretchedfrom ear to ear. I thought, What a freak! His cheerfulness, though, made me wantto learn even more.
As I sat, Mr. Breese pulled out an absolutelycolossal instrument. My eyes widened and I thought, I should have learned how toplay the trumpet. He then placed the tuba on my lap and a look of confusioncovered my face. The shiny brass beast was bigger than me! I couldn't see aroundits golden tubing! I followed the path of the tubes from the huge top to thethree small valves in the middle. The tubes wound around each other like a giantserpent. I thought I would never get to the end. Frustrated, I cried, "Ihave no clue how to hold this! Pick it up before I drop it!"
Thefirst thing I learned was how to blow into the mouthpiece. "You have tovibrate your lips like you're going to give a raspberry on a kid's stomach,"Mr. Breese kept telling me, but after awhile, my lips went numb, and they stilldo whenever I play for more than half an hour.
At the next lesson, Ilearned how to actually play some notes. They sounded like a 1,200-pound cowpassing wind, but I didn't care. I decided to take the tuba home so I couldpractice.
When I got home, I rolled the massive case to the door. Myparents' eyes widened as the beast entered the living room.
"Ifyou're going to practice that thing, you better go outside, because you probablyaren't very good," my dad said as he covered his ears. As I walked to thedoor, I bent over Dad's head and blasted a note in his ear, then ran out the dooras fast as I could, laughing hysterically. I heard a couple of obscenities as Ishut the door.
It was 7 a.m. on June 11 -- my sister's birthday. I wantedto do something special, so I jumped out of bed, grabbed my tuba, and went into aback room. That was the day I learned my first song. That was also the day thatJennifer woke up and tried to choke me, but I didn't care because I had learnedto play "Happy Birthday," even though it sounded more like anunderwater NASCAR race.
The next couple of lessons were rough. As soon asI learned one note, I would forget another. I thought that my dreams of becominga Tuba Goddess were being flushed down the toilet. I had almost decided to quitwhen an annoying voice popped into my head: it was Mom's, saying, You'll never beable to do it! I defiantly raised my lips to the mouthpiece and blasted out,"Yes, I can!"
Every day I practiced longer and harder, trying toperfect every note and scale. By the time school rolled around, I had succeeded.Mr. Breese was amazed at my improvement. My parents were astounded. I could playevery pep-band song and every scale in the book. I could also sight-read. I wasfinally the Tuba Goddess.
Sheer determination drove me to become a goodtuba player. Recently, I auditioned for District Honor Band and succeeded, next Iwill audition for State Honor Band. Nobody from my school has ever made it,especially not a female tuba player. I might even end up playing incollege.
Whenever someone doubts I can succeed, I try even harder to provethem wrong. My defiant streak helps me in academics and athletics, too. Last yearduring volleyball season, I didn't get much time on the court. During the summer,I attended weight-training sessions to build up my muscles and intensity. I hadto prove I was good enough to play, and it worked. This year, I received muchmore playing time. I proved I was good enough.
Each day, defiance pushesme to be the best that I can be. I love people's surprised looks as I yell,"Ha! I told you I could do it! You didn't think that I could, but Idid!"
My defiance led to an attitude -- a positive one. Perseveranceis driving me to achieve something new every day. I don't know where I will endup, and I don't care. After all, I am the Tuba Goddess.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.