As I delicately yet with precision caressed the strings of my violin, I knew that this was not for me. The touch, the sound, the feeling; it wasn’t right. But my mom kept pushing me to continue lessons, anyway. Although I didn’t enjoy playing the violin, her exhortation led to many accomplishments that I feel were some of the greatest ones I have achieved in my life so far; I joined the string ensemble that brought to me the opportunity to perform at several nursing homes, and even at the Sydney Opera House. These were indisputably the best years of my music career and Australia was the perfect location to experience them. But when I moved to Japan, things changed; my social environment changed and, consequently, so did I. I felt isolated from my surroundings, for I didn’t speak the language well, and Japanese people, although polite, are “keep-to-yourself” type of people, and as a shy, introverted, yet simultaneously loud boy, I didn’t fit in. Going to an International School reinforced that even more. This isolation provided me a platform for introspection that made me think no one liked me, because I didn’t fit into their social group. I developed the idea that for people to like me, I had to become a likable person, so I changed. I switched my preference for Classical and Jazz music to Hip Hop, R&B and Metal. I replaced tennis and soccer for sports that I disliked, but were seemingly popular. And I became an egotistical, self-absorbed character in the process. Next to actively trying to be popular, I joined the school Jazz band and greatly disliked it. As an alternative, my mom suggested that I auditioned for Hokkaido Broadcasting Co. Junior Orchestra. While reluctant at first I still did it; I got turned down. This was like a slap in the face, because it was then I realized I was completely miserable. I realized that I hated the person that I had become, and that I had become this person for people who didn’t even care about me. I lost all my confidence in my social and musical skills, and I desperately wanted to go “down under”. My mom, who was of great comfort and huge support to me, told me to keep on playing music, because despite disliking playing violin, music was still what I loved doing most. Music became a way to express myself at times when I couldn’t express myself in words. I started learning the saxophone, and this very instrument truly made me feel the love and passion I had for music. I knew now that it wasn’t about “just playing” the instrument, but more about the emotion I put into it and the emotion I received; the sensation of the thrills that cruised from my hands all the way to the tips of my toes and of knowing that I had complete control over it. After a year, as nervous as I was, I re-auditioned for HBC. To both my surprise and delight, I got accepted. This acceptance greatly affected my life; I’ve performed in Sapporo’s music hall, Kitara, a couple of times and toured through Hokkaido to perform. Also, I finally made friends who accepted me and who wouldn’t harass me for not being able to speak Japanese, for we still shared the same language, music. And no matter how clichéd and typical it sounds, it was then I knew that being myself was the best thing I could be, and I can proudly say that I like the person I’ve eventually become. My name is Leon Manjoume. I’m sixteen years old, and half Australian, half Japanese. My favorite color is purple, yet blue for clothes. I am a great cook; I can make the best pancakes you ever had, and I prefer vanilla over chocolate. I’m a huge fan of Disney and I absolutely love Legos. I can solve Rubik's cubes and I think Barbie is a negative role model for girls. And as I go about my melodious life, I tend to ask people, who can’t find the significance of music in their life, one question: What would life be without a little sax?
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