Patience is My Virtue
"I play my volcanic and bang you three times." That is a phrase that I look forward to. I used it a lot when I played "Bang!" a card game based off of the Old West, with friends at the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop over the summer. This is a two week event held at Humboldt State University, where about fifty young musicians participate in an intense musical program. The schedule is not only physically exhausting but mentally exhausting too, since each day the students rehearse all day with their new groups and perform during the same evening. This is why I looked forward to playing card games during the breaks to help me relax. Most students choose to attend the camp for one week because one week tiring enough. But usually a small group of hardcore students, including me, choose to stay for two weeks. And within those two weeks I had the time of my life.
Each morning, everyone hurry down to the music building after breakfast. The counselors would post the new groups for the day so everyone could prepare for rehearsals. Groans of frustration could be heard among the students gathered around the list. The skill levels of the musicians vary widely which is why everyone hopes to be put in a group with some of the better musicians. Most of the time the counselors manage to satisfy everyone's need but they can't always manage it.
I must admit that I was one of the groaners one of the mornings. I was in a group with a flautist, a clarinetist, and a violinist for the day. The flautist I knew was very good, and I trusted my skills on my cello, however, this did not make up for the lack of skill of the clarinetist and violinist. I prepared myself for the mental torture I would endure that day. I had fantastic groups for the first whole week, but now I had to pay my dues.
Sitting through the three rehearsals that day was hell. The sound of the violin screeching away entered through my right ear and the squawks of the clarinet entered through my left ear. My brain was being squashed. We had to stop playing half the time because the violinist didn't pay attention. Listening to the counselor advise us on the music and knowing that Stephen, the violinist, was not listening at all – that really made me angry. Every time the counselor was lecturing us, Stephen would slump down in his chair, hold his violin like a guitar, and pluck away at the strings with a dumb expression on his face. That nearly drove me over the edge.
My patience was tested that day, and my patience is one of my strong points too. Dealing with people or activities I don't enjoy is something everyone has to do multiple times in his life. Working with unpleasant musicians is just an example of an activity I don't enjoy is when I rely on my patience. My patience isn't only useful in unpleasant situations though. I need patience when I practice etudes on my cello because I know they will help me improve my skills and technique even if they aren't fun to practice. For most people, including me, exercising requires patience too. I need my patience when I go for a jog in the morning so I can keep healthy. As the Senior Patrol Leader of my Boy Scout troop, I constantly have to remind the younger scouts to pay attention or settle petty arguments among them. But in the end, they respect me more for being patient and not angry. From my experiences though, being patient with myself and others pays off.
The world would be a different place if everyone had more patience. I had the patience to deal with annoying musicians, but that is insignificant compared to the problems that could be solved with patience. If students had the patience to do their best in school, their chances of finding a job would greatly improve, and poverty would decrease significantly. If people had the patience to keep their body healthy, obesity in the population would also decrease significantly.
By the end of the day, my group managed to pull off a performance that exceeded my expectations. With a bit of patience and practice, the clarinetist and the violinist learned their parts pretty well; enough so that the group could stay together.