Wanting To be Heard | Teen Ink

Wanting To be Heard

October 15, 2019
By Isabel2019 BRONZE, Wauconda, Illinois
Isabel2019 BRONZE, Wauconda, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

You know that feeling where you can sense people staring at you? That’s me as I sit with my guitar in my lap, feeling pairs of eyes lasering the back of my head. Auditioning for the top jazz band wasn’t bad. Lucky for me, no one else plays guitar. Our school jazz ensemble never had a guitarist in years. But having no competition doesn’t mean I’m off the hook. It honestly means the opposite.

Some of our jazz members were glaring at me as they expected me to show off my skills. I could’ve turned my volume up and let them hear me shred but I didn’t want to ruin my first impression. I didn’t want to be heard. So I didn’t play a single note and just stared at my empty music stand, feeling the aimed lasers fading away from my head in disappointment. The rest of the band warmed up as trumpets blasted their sound across the room and the drummer banged on the snare. Everyone sounded like they could already make a living off the streets of New Orleans.

Our director strolled into the room and laid a towering pile of papers to the floor. He waved his hands and the chaotic noise became nothing but silence.“Welcome to Jazz Ensemble! I know your teacher’s babbled about syllabuses all day so let’s just play some music.” As the band cheered in relief, my mind raced. What if I play the wrong chord? What if I get lost in the music? Our director began to pass out music and one by one, more music dropped on my stand. “Get out the first song I passed out and I’ll give you time to look over it before we play,” he mentioned.

I scanned Flight of the Foo Birds, by Count Basie, and breathed out. It didn’t look that bad. I knew the chords and the counted the harder rhythms in my head. “Let’s play it!” he exclaimed while snapping his fingers for the tempo. “And a one… two… one, two ready and…” I began strumming the song but I knew no one could hear me because I couldn’t even hear myself. My amp was at the lowest volume. I didn’t want anyone to notice my mess-ups or think I wasn’t good enough to be here. I didn’t want to be heard. 

When we came to the solo section, a trombonist began going all out on his solo. It was like he transformed his trombone into his voice. He blew air through the trombone like he was yelling “This is me! This is what I have to say!”. The band cheered as he kept inventing beautiful lines of notes and rhythms. I felt jealous of how much fun he was having, but I was even more jealous of how everyone got to hear his voice. Before we sight-read our next tune, I blocked all my worries and cranked up my volume. Don’t think, just play. I shoved all my mental thoughts to the back of my brain and I just played. I played to accompany the band. I played to show what I got. I wanted to be heard.  I absorbed the confidence and passion of my bandmates around me and I strummed as loud as I could. Our director cut us off, and our music came to a halt. “Just a few comments,” he remarks as he squints his eyes at the score. “Trumpets, check your rhythm at measure 22. Saxophones, softer at measure 13. And guitar…” I shifted in my seat with fear, but he just stared at me and smiled. “Louder.”

I smiled back and cranked up my volume. I shouldn’t care how people think of me. I shouldn’t care about the “What ifs”.  This time, I’m taking every chance I get to show what I can do. I’m brave. I’m confident. I’m screaming to be heard.

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