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Just sniff

February 27, 2012

Today I coached a middle school string quartet and the first violinist, an eighth grade girl, was too embarrassed to cue everyone to begin. “Just sniff,” I said, and she giggled and looked down at the floor. “How about you look at everyone and you all lead together?” I said and she looked panicked.

Suddenly, I remembered being in eight grade. How the chorus teacher used to tell us to open our mouths to sing and I would look around the room at everyone with their mouths clamped shut and would close mine tighter, how my violin teacher used to tell me to breathe, but I refused. Breathing was embarrassing. Mouths wide open were embarrassing. Existence was embarrassing.

“Don’t worry,” I told the girl, “you’ll learn to do this in the next couple of years without even thinking about it.” What I really meant was that hopefully the self-consciousness would fade, the iron lung would release, and she would be able to breathe again. At least by the age of eighteen.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2012 6:00 am

    How wonderfully put: “Existence was embarrassing. ”
    I remember that feeling.
    Being a teenage girl in the world doesn’t seem to get any easier. How sad that is.

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