Danny Burns’ high-school opus doesn’t include rests


Danny Burns

Sophomore Danny Burns finds music and passion as his driving forces.

Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, All-State Band and honor band auditions, private lessons, and a consistent two hours of daily practice.

Where sophomore Danny Burns goes, music follows. 

“I [play my flute] a lot,” Danny said, “it’s fun because, [to] me, [music] is such an arbitrary thing that we randomly made out of nowhere but is such a staple in society. If we can construct [music] in weird, different ways, why can’t I throw my hat in the [ring]?”

Danny is marching the piccolo this year in the Marching Band—quite a feat as he is the only underclassmen doing so. Before the piccolo, however, came the flute, and before the flute, there were piano lessons. Danny’s life has always been influenced by music, even before the piano. 

“[My dad] has always been a music guy, and we have always kind of shared that bond with music, and honestly, that’s where I have gained most of my passion,” Danny said. 

Coming from a very musically-inclined family, Danny’s love for music developed at a very young age which made his decision to join band over choir and orchestra relatively easy. Still, as for what instrument he would play, there was much to think about. There were close to ten instruments available to fifth-graders looking to become a part of the band program; Danny had narrowed those ten down to two.

Flute and trumpet. 

Danny had the choice to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play the trumpet or forge his own path and play the flute. After talking to his piano teacher who happened to be a flutist and testing the instruments for himself, Danny chose the flute for one specific reason. 

“The first moment that I played flute I was like, ‘I want to be the best flute player that I can possibly be,’” Danny said. 

And that’s exactly what he did, but it wasn’t as much the nature of competition that inspired Danny to become a great musician but rather the allure of music itself. 

What makes music classes so different than other high school classes is the freedom gifted to students who take them. Music is meant to touch everyone differently, much like the literature taught in English classes, whereas math and science classes have a correct answer with a structured procedure; music is not so one-size-fits-all.

The first moment that I played flute I was like, ‘I want to be the best flute player that I can possibly be.’”

— Danny Burns

“It’s so fun that one random guy was like ‘I’m gonna put these two notes together, and it’s going to [sound] crazily beautiful’ and [everyone] was just like, ‘yes!’” Danny said. “I think that’s so interesting, so [that’s why]  I really find that it’s fun to practice. [I can] be like, ‘I want to interpret [a piece] this way or this way or this way.’ There are so many different ways you can interpret music that it’s so fun to change the music to how you want it.”

Though he dedicates hours and hours to his craft, Danny pushes himself further when it comes to academics. He’s a year ahead in math as well as being in other advanced classes like AP U.S. History, Honors English 10, and Chem 215. 

The shift from middle school to high school was definitely something that needed getting used to in Danny’s opinion. Middle school allows for some slack here and there, whereas high school tightens the reins on students and requires much more time management and focus, especially when it comes to getting good grades. For Danny, this was a complete 180. 

“Middle school was like ‘High School – Lite,’ like the free version,” Danny said. “It’s like that, and you don’t have to study a lot in middle school, but in high school, it amps up the difficulty.”

This difficulty is something Danny has experienced first hand. With his schedule breathing down his neck at all times, finding a way to manage all of his work has been demanding, to say the least. When he’s not practicing his flute, he’s mastering algebraic equations, learning new Spanish verb conjugations, or mastering the concepts detailed in AP U.S. History. 

Though Danny’s schedule reflects a tenacious and competitive mindset, Danny doesn’t think that the key to success is an overcrowded schedule. 

“Life is not a series of goals or a series of competitions that you need to keep beating everyone in,” Danny said. “I would say that creating your goals and reaching them is important, [but not] as much as just being happy [with] who you are or being happy [with] what you’re doing.”

Danny’s route to finding happiness has always been to test the waters of whatever activity, club, or extracurricular that catches his eye. Other than music and marching band, Danny has also been involved in theatre, student council, countless volunteer opportunities, and Model UN over the past few years.

Even though the prospect of putting himself in such a vulnerable state by joining organization after organization makes Danny nervous at times, his dedication to escaping his comfort zone fuels him—overpowering the pull to remain trapped in one hobby forever. 

Life is not a series of goals or a series of competitions that you need to keep beating everyone in.”

— Danny Burns

“You’re not going to get anywhere [in life by] hiding in a hole of ‘ahh I don’t want to meet anyone,’” Danny said. “There’s no use regretting things because you can’t [change] them, [though] I guess I would be a victim of doing that. I have been like, ‘oh I could’ve done this,’ but I didn’t, so there’s no point in looking back on it.” 

Though it’s scary at times, Danny knows that trying out new things is more than worth it in the long run. Once Danny moves the tassel on his graduation cap from the right side to the left, he knows that it’s not the grades or the tests he’ll remember but the souvenirs that his high school experience gave him. 

“Memories are so important; they create so much of who you are going to be,” Danny said. “I don’t know what memories I want to make, but I want to be open to all of the experiences that I’m going to have.”