Living Like a Horn

By Joshua Melchione

Josh Melchione

The horn curves, twists and bends. So do the sounds that I produce when I play the instrument, my companion since the age of eight. My life encompasses the qualities of the horn. Even when I am not playing, I do not walk a straight line. I am curving, twisting and bending through each chapter of my life. Like the horn, I am versatile. The sound of the horn is directed in the mouthpiece and grows steadily as it reaches the bell, producing diverse melodies. In the same way, my interests are focused but dispersed, ranging from music to skating to physics.

Five months ago, I performed on a stage that felt like Broadway as one of 21 backup singers for Patti LuPone, a graduate of my school who has performed in many Broadway musicals, including Evita. Although I was not performing with my horn, I channeled the spirit of my instrument. The excitement of singing on stage reminded me of playing “Concerto No. 1 in E♭ Major” on my horn. Like the piece, I aimed to be expressive and dynamic when performing with Patti.

At 16, I was inspired to begin figure skating after watching a competition on television. Initially, lessons were difficult, but I continued drawing on my experience from the horn, one of the most difficult brass instruments.

I am clearly the oldest in my figure skating classes, but this does not bother me. I push ahead, looking back, around, and forward so as not to crash. When I fall, I pause and think about what I need to do to get better, then I move on and try again. I am always making adjustments because those who become complacent don’t improve. My time playing the horn imparts these same lessons. In a way, skating is much like the song “Vocalise” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, with its long sustained tones, connected by flowing, faster rhythms.

In figure skating, every move is constructed from distinct different parts. Finer movements combine to form jumps and spins. Alone, each part appears simple. However, after trying the full move a couple of times, I always realize the importance of the smaller pieces–the curves that are often forgotten in the constant movement of life.

There is also a song for physics. “Romance” by C. Saint-Saȅns is elegant and flowing. The piece itself is symmetrical and each note is connected to the last. Have you ever witnessed something so amazing that you couldn’t wait to share it? That’s my relationship with physics, highlighted by the rhythm of “Romance.” There is always a fascinating application or demonstration to discover, just waiting around the corner. A physics problem is a puzzle with a certain amount of known information and a goal, relying on problem solving and knowledge to find a solution. Each small success creates excitement and brings me closer to solving the puzzle.

What do physics, instruments, flags, and kickline all have in common? At first thought, not much. However, they are all part of my experience with the Northport Tiger Marching Band. Many sets rely on straight lines or smooth curves, which are not effective if people aren’t in their spots. In moving between spots, good timing is needed to ensure that people don’t bump into each other. People need to be in step with the music and everyone else.

When I am marching, I am moving, playing, and entertaining all with the horn in my hand. I appear both delicate and confident, just as the horn’s role can change very rapidly. From producing off-beats in the background to performing a solo on center stage, I am often adapting to the situation at hand. Music, skating, and physics all involve fast thinking, requiring a quick reaction to the situation at hand. Because of my interests, I have become versatile, hoping to apply this strength to my future studies and career.
Joshua Melchione, a freshman in the Honors Program at Northeastern University, is a graduate of Northport High School.