by Chelsea Wozniak, 14, Blythwood, South Carolina
The violin sat delicately in my arm as my fingers tapped swiftly on the long ebony fingerboard, and the curling scroll upon which the rest of my hand rested seemed miles away from my eyes. Gingerly, I sat the instrument down, and closed my eyes imagining how my upcoming audition would go. I giggled as I envisioned trumpets blowing their horns and confetti flying into my hair, and I was awarded an entrance into the summer camp for which I would soon be auditioning. For two years I had been playing the violin at my middle school. I loved learning new pieces, especially ones such as "Jingle Bells" or a minuet that I hoped my family members would recognize. When I played my instrument, I truly loved it, and though it was never a passion of mine, I still enjoyed the violin. After practicing, I would grow tiresome and place the instrument down, and move on to other things that twelve year-olds were into. Everyone I knew of was trying out to attend the arts summer camp, Tri-DAC. We, musicians, compared our blisters that had formed from practicing so many hours a day, together counting down the days till auditions. It was the talk of the school halls for weeks.
The morning of the audition I woke early. I felt physically sick: my hands, legs, and fingers were shaking, and my stomach was swimming with an enormous weight of apprehension. I made myself rise out of bed and choose an all- black outfit with a happy pink scarf that seemed to help raise my confidence. The shirt fit my arms tightly, so that when I used the bow it would emphasize my graceful movements. I scurried around the house, making sure my violin was in tune, packing my music, and trying to calm myself from maybe an eventual rejection. We finally were in the car, running ten minutes late, as always.
Of course we had to turn around, go back to the house, and get my violin that somehow I had forgotten in all of the morning's confusion. Back in the car, I opened my music book and tried to concentrate on the notes, but my body would not agree with that notion and anxiety again took hold of me. The weight in my stomach plummeted, and I kept rubbing my fingers and hands hastily. I always do this when I am nervous since I must find something to keep my hands busy instead of letting them shake from fear. Mom gave me one of her smiles, the wide one with all her teeth. She never smiled without her eyes, and those eyes gave me the boost of self-confidence I desperately needed.
At last we arrived at the college where Tri-DAC auditions were to be held. Mom parked the car and we walked toward the massive building. The whole setting was quite calming. The hundreds of trees leading up to the building towered above me and had a look of magnificent pride. Tawny, royal red leaves hugged the branches and the sun shone brightly, blinding me with its sparkle. But as I grew nearer to the building, the warmness I had just felt quickly melted and was replaced by cold gray. Shadows formed a round me as I stepped hesitantly into the building, and I could hear the dirge in the background playing for me as I approached my doom.
Since we were about fifteen minutes behind schedule I had only five minutes to warm up and fill out the three forms for the three judges. I wrote in all the necessary answers to the questions and quickly unpacked my violin. Mom sat down by me and watched as I slid my bow smoothly over the strings.
"Sounded good," she said, smiling at me.
"Really?" I asked, hoping she was telling the truth and not trying to make me feel better about what might have been repulsive screeches instead of the gentle quivering of beautiful notes.
She nodded. "Just make sure that your bow is straight," she reminded me.
I smiled and played my piece two more times until I was quite satisfied. I went down the hall to where my audition was being held. The receptionist told me to sit in a chair outside a room in that dark hallway. I was the first to be auditioned and the pressure made me nauseous. My heart skipped two beats suddenly as a man marched into the hall with a furious crimson face.
"Aren't they suppose to be starting," he yelled. "Why is everyone so late?" That is when he glanced at me. "Are you the first one?" he snarled at me. I quickly nodded and stumbled from my seat of doom.
My heartbeat raced. I clutched the handle of the violin case so that it would not fall from my soggy palms. Several lights blinded me as I entered the room where three judges were sitting across from me on a couch. One was a young girl, early twenties, who had a nice smile. Sitting next to the girl was an older woman with a grim expression and cold eyes. And the man who had scared me in the hall was sitting on the other side of the young girl, still fuming with impatience.
"Play your prepared piece," the enraged man barked. I opened my book, and the notes resembled a black mass of only shapes and symbols instead of B flats and F sharps. I tried to begin my piece but both of my legs would not stop shaking! After many sour and scratchy notes I finally finished my piece. The judges stared in fearful shock and after shaking their heads a few times wrote their comments down on the sheets of paper. They probably were writing how they should have remembered to bring their earplugs.
Next, I had to repeat the rhythm patterns that the young girl clapped—da, da-da, da-da-da, da, da. Again, I had a problem with shaking. She smiled at me, a pity smile, and repeated the patterns. I did try, da-da, da-da-da-da, da, but finally she gave up on me as I already had done myself.
It was now the older woman's turn. She went to the massive piano I had seemed to miss when I entered the room. I had to sing the notes she played and that was not a good thing since I have the worst singing voice. By comparison, my singing would make my violin sound like a Stradivarius. She played the notes and I asked if she could repeat them, but she said no. I tried but it was hopeless. After finishing the singing exercises, she asked me to leave and also added "thank you for that um... interesting performance." I flew out, the tears that I had held for so long already streaming down my cheeks.
Mom saw my face and her smile suddenly vanished. She walked towards me and opened her arms to embrace me with a hug. I ran and buried my face in her shoulder till my tears ceased and only became stuffy sniffles and protracted hiccups.
Weeks later I received the letter from Tri-DAC which had, of course, rejected me. I tore it up into hundreds of little scraps, fra ntically throwing it on the floor and ran to my bedroom sobbing. It took me a long time before I auditioned for anything again. The memory of that particular event haunted me. But in the long run, I think it made me better. Afterwards when I would go to an audition, I would always remember the Tri-DAC experience and trust that no other could be worse. And as it turns out, I had fun at all those subsequent auditions! I guess sometimes we must learn from our bad experiences and maybe years later we will laugh about it. The problem is, I'm still not laughing.