CSU Voices and Views

From Clarinet to College

By Rudy Silva
CSU Long Beach student

Silva shares his story with the CSU Board of Trustees during their January meeting. His speech acknowledges Bob Cole, whose generosity continues to support music instruction and student scholarships at CSU Long Beach.

Silva shares his story with the CSU Board of Trustees during their January meeting. His speech acknowledges Bob Cole, whose generosity continues to support music instruction and student scholarships at CSU Long Beach.

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.”

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