B is for Bennington, VT

Bennington, VT is where the 81st New England Music Festival took place. Being accepted to perform in this festival was a turning point for me musically.


I started off loving music. I loved to sing, I loved to dance, I loved to listen. I wanted nothing more than to take instrument lessons at school like my big brother and sister had. I started off on french horn in 4th grade. It was a big instrument for me and when I told my teacher it was heavy he just dismissed me with, “Don’t be such a wimp!” I got all F’s in band that year….I didn’t even know that was possible for elementary school.

I tried to quit after that, but my parents wouldn’t let me. I switched to percussion in 5th grade instead. One day, while attempting to play snare drum my teacher scolded me, “Stop playing like such a girl.”

Confused, I replied, “But I am a girl…”

To which he responded, ” You know what I mean.”

A few weeks later he just flat out told me I would never be good enough to play snare drum. Once again, I failed band.

I tried to quit in 6th grade, but parents told me no. In 7th grade I would finally go to middle school and have a new teacher who my brother and sister both loved. In 6th grade I only played bells (glockenspiel). I had taken piano since I was 5 so I already knew how to play keyboard instruments and read music. Everything was easy, I learned nothing, I aced band.

I loved my middle school teacher, but now I had the reputation of being “mallet girl”. I still wasn’t good enough to play snare drum. When we did marching band I had to play crash cymbals (the worst). I was miserable. I wanted to quit. Once again my parents told me, just wait till high school, you’ll have a new teacher then, your brother and sister really like him!

When I got to high school there was already an older student who was known as the mallet player. And from day one in band I was compared to him. Everyone said, “Oh maybe you could be the next _______ some day.” They meant well, I know they did, but I didn’t want to be the next anyone, I wanted to be ME. I didn’t want to be on the lesser end of a comparison. Then my friends told me about New England Music Festival. I saw it as an opportunity. I needed lessons first though, I’d only been playing off my piano skills and really hadn’t developed percussion technique.

I emailed the head of percussion at Hartt for suggestions, and by some stroke of luck he told me had ONE spot available for a new student. He asked me, “Are you planning on becoming a music major?” I had never thought about it, but I was dying for him to teach me so naturally I said, “Yes.” I did not make it the first year I auditioned, I had only taken lessons about a month then, but the next year I succeeded! It was my first affirmation that I COULD play percussion and a step into finding my own shoes instead of filling someone else’s.

I’ve been a music teacher for three years now, and my number one goal is to not make any student feel like they CAN’T.


11 thoughts on “B is for Bennington, VT

  1. Great story, and now you’re in a perfect position based on your history. Super!

    Since you asked on your other page about constructive criticism, I’ll offer this: your story is stronger if you eliminate your final line. The reader already knows this because you told us earlier. Let us fill in that line, and it’s more enjoyable for the reader. Try it yourself, you’ll see what I mean. What you’re going to find if you continue writing is that writing gets easier and easier. Editing, and striking out your favorite lines — that part will never get easy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My daughter played timpani and mallets in high school. And she attended Bennington College. So I almost feel like we’re kindred spirits. (And I was an elementary general music teacher.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What an amazing story and after all that you still became a music teacher! I had very supportive music teachers growing up and I believe they are the main reason why I continue to play in community band even though my adult life is so much busier compared to when I was a student. You’ll be remembered by your students for years to come!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A to Z Recap | serenasinclair

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