Growing up, music was always a part of my identity. I always loved to sing – that was my first real passion. I performed in the talent shows and musical theatre productions, and loved every minute. In grade seven, I received my instrument that I would have until grade 12 – my trumpet. I remember feeling so accomplished when I traded in my beginner gold trumpet for an advanced silver trumpet. I was always second trumpet in concert and jazz band but I didn’t mind – second usually got either a cool riff for themselves or they were the soloist.
What sticks out the most for me in my youth was all about jazz choir in grade 11. Growing up, I had constantly heard of this jazz choir at the local high school called Purplexity. They said that if you were in this group, you were a part of the best singers in the entire school – and I wanted in. I was so nervous for my audition – I had a lot of friends who also auditioned for it but it was an eight piece group so I really had to fight for a spot.
I walked in, sang my heart out, and walked out. I had never been so nervous in my life before.
Then, a week later, I was talking with a teacher when my friend at the time walks in and says to me “Congrats for making it into Purplexity, Dani!”
I ran to that choir door SO FAST! There it was, in the middle of the list: Dani Wenger. When I looked around the list, I realized something.
I was the only 11th grader who made it in. Everyone else was a year ahead.
That was such a proud moment for me, something that I badly wanted for the past five years and I finally got it and squeaked in by the looks of it.
It was such a fun year and when I auditioned again for my grade 12 year, I sang Janis Joplin’s, “Me and Bobby McGee” and hoped I did her proud.
After those two years of Purplexity (and senior choir, Chamber choir, jazz band, and concert band), I wasn’t sure how music was going to be in my life. I was heading for university to get a Rhetoric degree, not a music degree. I definitely considered that at the time but ultimately realized I wanted to communicate with words instead of music.
I ended up diving into concerts and iTunes music and it was such a necessary escape. I think what I miss from high school is the ability to have a musical community. All my friends were in music and theatre and I often joke that I never got into trouble in high school because I spent all my time in the band room. In my grade 12 year, I even got my locker in the band room so I’d had an excuse to come to the band room everyday.
What I also miss are my band teachers Mr. Brandon and Mr. Kristofferson. They taught me more than music – they taught me life. They taught me that it’s okay to be weird and different and to not know what you want to do in life. I’d have long talks with them, either in class or in their offices on a spare. I recommend the book we read in Fundamentals in Music called The Music Lesson by Victor L. Wooten, it was a game changer for high school Dani.
It was through music that I had my first real sense of a hygge community. One of which that supports each other endlessly, unconditionally kind, and creates a safe space for everyone involved.
Fast foward to now, current Dani had her mind blown with Spotify back in June. I can’t go back to any other music player after having the ability to play whatever song I want whenever.
But you can definitely bet that I’m listening to band music on Spotify. Eric Whitacre, anyone?