With You Every Step: Millie

Why did you choose your instrument?  

When I was nine years old, I watched my brother’s school jazz concert for the first time. I loved the music and it looked like so much fun. There was this one soloist that played the saxophone and was amazing. I loved the sound and knew that I wanted to give it a try.  

At my elementary school, I was not allowed to start band on the saxophone. They made you play the clarinet for a year first and at the end of the year, they picked a few of the clarinet students to move onto the saxophone. I was so disappointed when I wasn’t chosen. But, instead of letting go of that dream and letting that stop me from playing, I asked my parents to let me learn saxophone outside of school.  

So, they took me to rent a saxophone, and I was thrilled. As soon as we got home, I pulled up a video, and learned how to put the saxophone together, hold it, and play a couple notes, within the first day. The first time I tried to play, it was very hard and it took quite a few tries to get a real sound out. Although it was difficult, I just thought of it as another challenge to preserve through. 

I started taking lessons that summer, with Mr. Julius Tolentino, he’s been teaching me for three years and is now my current band director. I have learned so much from him and he has led me to be the musician I am now. 

Who have been your musical inspirations? 

My original inspiration was the soloist who inspired me to even start. Without them I wouldn’t have even been playing the saxophone. Beyond that, however, my older brother has been a great inspiration. He is, two years older than me, plays the trombone, and is in the school jazz band. Watching his concerts was my first introduction to band, jazz, saxophone, and he has continued to get better as I wish to do. 

 

How often do you practice? 

I try to practice an hour or two a week, depending on how much homework I have and what else I have to do. 

I practice so that I can get better and learn. In the couple years I have been learning, I have definitely improved. I started out just playing singular notes but now I am in the Middle School Band. 




What have been your greatest challenges in your musical journey?  

The two biggest challenges in my musical journey have been: originally not making it into saxophone, and covid. First, not being allowed to play saxophone in fifth grade was hard, but I didn't let that stop me and worked around it. Second, Covid has been a big struggle. Because of covid, band class wasn’t at its best. There were many zoom classes, and when in person, there were often many study halls instead of band because there were too many people all to be together. But, we worked through it and managed to have an outdoor Covid-safe concert. 

 

Those are both significant challenges. What has kept you going? 

The thing that has kept me going is hope for the future and having a passion for learning more. When I face a challenge, instead of thinking about the negatives of the situation, I think about all of the things that I will learn from it and how I can get better in the future. 



Amazing. What is the best thing that you’ve done with music? Your favorite musical memory? 

My most fun and favorite musical memory is my winter concert saxophone duet in sixth grade. My friend and I did a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer duet in sixth grade where we wore deer antler headbands and blinking red noses. It was so much fun and we still joke about it! 

 

What other musical things do you hope to do when you’re older? 

I hope that when I’m older I’ll be able to be in one of the real school concerts, because the only ones I’ve been in are the sixth-grade concert, and the middle school covid-edition concert. I’m really hoping that covid will pass soon so that I can have a real concert this year. 

 

It certainly sounds like you’ve got a bright future in music ahead of you. What do you like to do outside of music? 

Some of my hobbies are: dancing, learning languages, horseback riding, and swimming. 

 


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