Denton Writes 2009 Winner – Teen Personal Essay – Sylvia Li

Sylvia Li preview 


by Sylvia Li


            The wooden floor is yellow-orange, like the peel of a navel orange or like a dark shade of custard.  A shiny gloss coats it, reflecting the lights in the lofty ceiling, which creates a pattern of bright rectangles that briefly checker the floor.  If you walk with your eyes facing the ground you’ll see scuff marks and scratches from shoes, endpins, wheels, chairs, and stands.  In the corners and along the edges of the room lie dust and dirt that haven’t been swept for almost eight months.  The room wouldn’t be as cozy without these blemishes. 

Look up.  Black chairs and stands and grey stools surround the podium.  Rock stops, rosin, and sometimes sheets of music rest next to the chair legs.  A forgotten necklace might be coiled up in a chair.  It will be picked up tomorrow morning by its owner, if a watchful friend has not already returned it.  The podium itself is littered with binders and papers, filled with attendance and music scores.  The baton is in the middle of a sleepover on these papers with some pencils and markers, as is its custom almost every day. 

Colorful smears prevent the whiteboard from remaining white.  These smears are the remnants of past music, reminders, and messages.  “Congratulations” is written on the board somewhere.  There might be a “Happy Birthday!” in bubble letters too.  Perhaps somebody drew flowers.  Try to find them; they look like chrysanthemums or sunflowers.  It would not be surprising to find octopuses and boa constrictors drawn on the board either.  Don’t be troubled if you see something malicious written.  That’s just human nature.  Somebody will erase it soon.

Tilt your head towards the ceiling.  A line of brown plaques sit on a ledge.  They are surrounded by vivid posters of concert-program covers hung on the walls.  Above those are the practice rooms, which also occasionally serve as studying and napping rooms.

The most striking thing about the room though, is the people.  Return your gaze to eyelevel.  If it is lunchtime and you look around, you will encounter small congregations of friends, laughing and chatting.  One group might be encircled around the computer, watching a video, listening to some heavy metal, playing a game, or reading a Wikipedia page.  Some guys will be standing and leaning against the bass stools, telling stories and cracking jokes.  Another student will be enmeshed in playing the piano while amazed listeners admire his skill.  A few others will be finishing homework, perhaps typing essays that are due next block.  If you peek into the ensemble room, you’ll see three to four dark haired guys, heads bent over a sheet of paper and hands furiously scribbling answers to a UIL Number Sense test in the meager ten minute time limit. Behind you resounds the rambunctious gaggle of girls laughing.  The aroma of their delicious lunches floats through your nostrils.  One of them has brought pesto.  Another one is savoring her curry, and a third girl is bringing pasta with tomato basil sauce out of the microwave in the office.

This is the orchestra room.  It is a snug corner of the school where people can enjoy music, relax, and laugh with one another.  In here we are all family, and in here we are at home.


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