Jimmy is featured in the book “What Music Means to Me”. This post is an excerpt from the book…
My mom put me in piano lessons as soon as I turned five. She was a big fan of Elton John and probably dreamed that someday, I’d be belting “Candle in the Wind” just for her. When I switched my instrument to the clarinet a few years later, I entered a general music competition at a Dallas church on a whim. It would be the first in a long and extensive line of competitions in which I did okay; they took me all over the world to compete and perform all throughout middle school and high school. Competitions were great in that they taught me how to cope with pressure and play with confidence, but win or lose, their outcomes never really mattered to me. It seemed like I was just building up a résumé and living to cater to judges; I never felt a real connection to my instrument or to the music. These sentiments changed during my junior year of high school during the first rehearsal with my local music ensemble, the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra. I remember sitting there in silence, amazed by the intensity of the strings and bravado of the brass and winds and how the clarinet seamlessly weaved in and out, acting as just a small part of something much, much greater. I remember that incredible rush of energy, that excitement from being in the middle of all that sound and chords and notes and melody and thinking to myself, “This is how it’s supposed to be.” Ever since, I’ve looked at performance differently—it involves that translation of emotions between the audience and performer, a connection that has the potential to be endless.
Today, I am two weeks away from my high school graduation. While my class mates will be at a college studying everything from the earth’s gravitational pull to Virginia Woolf’s feminist ideals, I’ll be learning how to fit triplets into a 9/8 time signature and ace the clarinet solo in Mahler’s 5th. My mom never got me started in music lessons with the intention of making it my career. My decision to pursue music past grade school actually came just at the end of last year when I tried to imagine my life without a focus on music. I couldn’t do it. I almost cried thinking about the possibility of never playing Brahms’ 3rd Symphony or never finishing Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsody. And when I try to imagine the immense challenges ahead and the possibility of “never making it”, but also the potential friendships, connections, and ultimate satisfaction that can result from music, I get excited. That’s exactly what music gives me—it makes me excited about life.
© Richard Rejino 2011