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A passion for performing

Freshman explores her love for music
Little+and+her+middle+school+symphony+orchestra+win+a+first+division+award.+They++had+just+participated+in+a+competition+called+the+Bluebonnet+festival.
Provided by Sierra Little
Little and her middle school symphony orchestra win a first division award. They had just participated in a competition called the Bluebonnet festival.

In first grade, after enrolling in her school band, she was forced to play the flutophone.

In second, she had to play the recorder.

But by third, she could choose her instrument. As other kids debated their options, it was a no brainer for freshman Sierra Little.

“My mom had played clarinet and so I knew I wanted to do that one, especially because it was similar to the recorder that we had played in second grade,” Little said. “Miss Croft would have us sit in our different groups, depending on what instrument we wanted to play. I always sat in the clarinet group, because that’s what I wanted to do.”

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Her parents’ love for band was the initial spark for her own passion.

Little celebrates in middle school with her now freshman friends Elizabeth Gamero and Adelia Scates. They had won a first division on their show with the Pin Oak Band. (Provided by Sierra Little)

“I knew band was important to my parents because they really enjoyed it because they loved their friends in it and the experience of going to the contests and I think they also wanted me to enjoy it,” Little said, ”And I do. It’s a lot of fun.”

Even now, after Little entered the Bellaire’s Mighty Cardinal Band her parents support her in different ways when it comes to her music.

“If I’m struggling with my instrument, my mom can help me because she played it as a kid,” Little said. “Or when my brother’s having trouble practicing his drums, my dad will go in there and they’ll play the song together. And that’s a really nice experience.”

Along with helping her practice, Little’s parents also are very involved in the band. They sign her field trip forms and want to become band booster parents in the future. But it’s not just her parents. Her whole family always shows up for her.

“They come to all of my football games, and they’ll sit in the stands and watch the game and my brother and sister have no idea what’s going on,” Little said. “But they wait for the halftime show.”

Despite her love for music, she can’t always devote the time to it that she wishes to. For example, she had to miss her band All-City competition and rehearsal because of the all school musical’s show.

“Sometimes band is a lot of work; the music is very demanding,” Little said. “I often struggle with activities clashing. I try to do as much as possible, but sometimes I have to draw the line, like I don’t have time to go to this competition, so there’s no point in auditioning for it.”

Pressure from her parents also play a part in Little’s struggles.

“They’re very proud of my accomplishments, but they’re always pushing me to do more,” Little said. Sometimes I don’t have time to do more, and I think it’s hard for them because they think I could if I tried.”

What keeps Little going is the new community that she has found along the way.

“The friends I’ve made are incredible,” Little said. “I’ve met people who I’ve never thought I would meet before and my new best friend will be the one sitting next to me at [the next] competition.”

Another way she overcomes obstacles is by focusing on what she loves best about music: performing.

“I like showing people the final product of all of our work. We put all this time and effort and then here’s what it is and it’s amazing, especially when you get into the harder pieces and people are like, ‘Wow, you actually did that.’ That’s really cool and just so rewarding.”

Little also stays motivated because she doesn’t like being the only one who can’t do something. She will practice repeatedly until it is “stage worthy.”

Little and her cousin attempt to play a duet together while her cousin was just learning to play percussion. Her little sister joined in with the recorder, making it a family event. (Provided by Sierra Little)

Little witnessed this effort pay off when she got the position as assistant drum major, allowing her to step up as a leader. One aspect of the role she’s looking forward to is being able to boss people around. However, she doesn’t like telling her friends what to do unless she has the power to do so.

Freshman Elizabeth Gamero feels that Little is “perfect” for the position.

“I’m really excited for her and she’s going to do great,” Gamero said. “She’s always done well at anything she does, really. It’s a very good spot for her.”

Junior and future head drum major Olivia Becker agrees that Little will thrive in a leadership role.

“Sierra is in theater, too, so naturally she has a lot of voice,” Becker said. “She’s outgoing and she’s not afraid to do anything. She has a lot of confidence, which is something I really like about her. She’s very determined, too.”

Although this new role gives her power over other band members, it also requires her to do what she can to improve the band. One of Little’s first actions will be to improve freshmen’s dedication.

“They didn’t want to give as much time as some of the older people. Like the juniors this year are really dedicated,” Little said. “I know a lot of freshmen who have kind of gotten out of music because of COVID, and it’s not fun for them anymore. So they’re not super into it. Since [I will be] drum major, I want to try to do something to help change that to make it more interesting.”

Although Little doesn’t plan to pursue music as a career, there is only one way that she can describe how performing and making music feels to her now.

“Exhilarating,” Little said. “After all this work we did it. We’re finally done, and it sounds so cool. We’re going to go places with this.”

This story was originally published on Three Penny Press on April 3, 2024.