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Improvisation This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I’m sweating profusely in my hard plastic chair, clutching my saxophone like a baby grasps a rattle. Mr. Fogarty slowly scans the rows of boys, each holding his breath and praying it’s not his turn. Mr. Fogarty’s eyes pass over them and they can breathe again. His gaze lands on me and my heart skips a beat.

This is the routine I go through every Tuesday at jazz band rehearsal. I’m fine during practice until it’s time for each of us to stand and play our instrument, alone, with everyone watching.

I stick out since I’m one of the only girls, and having purple hair probably doesn’t help. I always pray for Mr. Fogarty to forget me, but he never does. Instead, he calls me out in front of everyone and sends me evil smiles and eye twitches that could give me seizures.

Mr. Fogarty mouths, “You’re next.”

My stand partner grins. He knows how much I dread this moment each week and in some sadistic way it gives him pleasure to see me squirm and sweat through an eight measure improvisational solo.

I pray that the kid before me has a never-ending solo, or maybe an earthquake or a tornado will delay this moment. Much to my annoyance, the boy before me sits as he finishes. My heart thumps so hard I can barely breathe as I stand and take my first breath to begin this unsafe musical journey.

As I breathe out the first notes, they agree with the background bass and guitar. I hold them as long as I can and then I look at the music, yearning to follow the safe pattern of black musical notes that tell me what to do ... but no, I have to trust myself.

Suddenly the notes on the page start forming different patterns and jump at me, each coming so fast I’m not sure which to play first ... so I play them all. My fingers move so fast I can hear the click of metal against metal. My thoughts are no longer words, but musical notes, and they’re moving so fast I don’t have time to think about what to play next. I just let my hands go. I’m so caught up in my solo that I don’t notice students eyeing Mr. Fogarty, giving him looks as if to say, How much longer?

Mr. Fogarty waves them away and, abruptly, I stop, and free my hands from the saxophone which is still warm from my dancing fingers.

I sit so hard the chair creaks. I ignore my stand partner’s praises and look up through my bangs at my band teacher’s approving smile that says it all.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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HannahElizabeth0221 said...
Dec. 22, 2011 at 8:08 am:
This is an amazing article! I play saxophone too and I understood the exact feeling you get with a solo. Good job!
 
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