By Rudy Silva
CSU Long Beach student
As a kid from Indio, it was impossible to realize that the clarinet would be my path to Cal State Long Beach.
At the urging of a church friend, I somewhat reluctantly decided to explore the band program in middle school. The clarinet was my choice for a simple reason: I was able to get a decent sound out of it on the first try. With no musicians in the family, that note – if it could be called an actual note – opened up an entire world. I went from dancing with the radio to quickly advancing through music books. In fact, my teacher would not believe me at first when I told her I was ready for new material.
I continued making music throughout high school with the marching band, jazz band, district honor band, and community orchestra. I even found myself as drum major in my junior year of high school. With all that, I never thought of my future in music until my band teacher asked me, “Are you going to be an artist or a band director?” as we worked on a prop for a performance. The potential that he saw in me made the next step seem possible.
The next hurdle was a familiar one for any first generation college student. I didn’t know where to start the process of selecting and applying for college. My middle school teacher, who originally encouraged and supported me, attended CSULB. She was an amazing teacher, so I assumed she had attended a great program. The more I explored, the more CSULB kept coming up.
I came to the university for the first time to complete my entrance audition for the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. It was unknown to me that I was also competing for a new scholarship. Following my audition, I was offered the scholarship, thanks to the generous gift of Bob Cole.
I clearly remember my parent’s faces when they learned that I would not only be attending college, but I also had financial support. They were excited for me because a dream was coming true.
My experience at “The Beach” has been amazing. Although I was a little intimidated starting freshman year, things proved very different. I have made great friends and formed wonderful relationships with highly accessible faculty, sharing their knowledge and support.
My goal is to become a high school music educator. Maybe, one day a music student will be looking at schools to attend and think, “Mr. Silva went to Cal State Long Beach. I should give it a try.”