Amazing Kids! Magazine

Moving Chairs

By Olivia Pullen, age 14, Ohio


Late in the winter of my seventh grade year, a very difficult year for everyone, I was completely changed by one sentence. This very sentence reminds me to be who I am and to do what I love no matter how good I am at other things.

It was a normal day in my band class except that it was Friday and we had a seating test. During a seating test you had to play in groups of two and the classmates would choose who did better. If you did better, you moved up a chair. If you didn’t, you moved to the seat that the better person was sitting in before they moved. This was absolutely nerve racking. The room was silent for a moment and then the sound of a clarinet broke the silence. While the two students were playing we were silently judging. After all, that was our job. After the clarinet section was the flute section. My palms were sweaty and my instrument was cold. I was counting down the people until it was my turn. Eight more people were left. Six more people were left. Four more people were left…down to the final two people. Now it was me against the last flute player. She went first and while she was playing I could feel my stomach churn. She was obviously better than me and was going to take my spot. Finally, it was my turn. I brought the frigid instrument to my lips. It was cold and I could see the condensation forming on the mouth piece. I played my first note with a shaky burst of air. I didn’t start out well which meant I wouldn’t recover. My mouth watered from my nervousness and goose bumps arose from the cold air leaking in through the window next to me. I finished the song and the person I was against wins my chair. I lost. After all of the testing someone said that they weren’t in the spot that they think that they should be and think that they could have done better. I agree on my part because I can play the song just fine by myself, but play by myself with everyone listening makes me nervous. The conversation carries, and I feel my body heating from embarrassment. I stopped listening and kept thinking, I need to get better. I have to get better. I want to get better. My head was spinning. I couldn’t help but feel like I was overreacting and maybe I was. I tried to clear my head of my thoughts and focus on what Mr. Canter was saying. He rambled on about how you will get better as you go and all the typical things a teacher would say. The next splurge that left his mouth was something I needed to hear.

“There is always going to be someone better than you,” he said. I already knew this. “And there will always be someone worse than you.” I already knew this, too. “But don’t give up. You are better than someone and worse than someone. As you get better, maybe you’ll be better than the person who was once better than you because they chose not to go farther and push harder.” I was listening to him, absorbing every word. “My advice to you is to fight hard and play hard.” I couldn’t help but think that this is something that a coach would say. I was so hung on his words that I completely forgot about the cold room and the playing test I had just failed. I went home with his words still on my mind. I was about to give up and just quit, but I decided not to.

Now, well into my eighth grade year, I still have this piece of advice and apply it to everything. This year we sadly don’t have Mr. Canter, but we have someone new. When she decides to do a playing test, I won’t let the fear of not being good enough scare me. I might be seated as last chair or the first chair or anything in between. But at least I’ll have something to work towards, something to play for, and something to fight for.