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My First Jazz Solo
“Alright, kiddos, time for class,” Mrs. Werling spoke loudly. We all immediately quieted down because last time we didn’t, Mrs. Werling gave us a scary lecture, which is very out of her sweet, nurturing nature.
“I have an announcement to make. The Taste of Grandville is in 2 weeks, and we need a few brave soloists for the written solos during Satin Doll.”
Everyone started looking around to see who would be the 1st to volunteer their musical talents. Then, we all saw Daven raising his hand in our proferal, and we all glanced at him- well, more like stared. We were all really scared to solo because most of us hadn’t soloed before. It didn’t exactly come as a surprise that Daven was the 1st to volunteer. He is extremely talented.
Mrs. Werling smiled widely, “Alright Daven! I’ll put you down in the 1st slot. Anyone else want to take a solo?”
Nobody raised their hands.
Mrs. Werling said again, “Does anybody want to take a solo? It would be really nice if we had at least 1 more person.”
Everybody did that thing where you turn around in your chair to look at somebody, but at me. At least I knew they were looking at me.
Nick, my tall blond friend with big, blue eyes sitting next to me whispered,
“Come on Ava, you should solo! What’s the worst that could happen?”
I took this into consideration for a few seconds, then finally before I could think of any reasons not to, my hand shot up, but I wasn’t the only one who raised their hand. The girl sitting directly in front of me in band who played the Alto Saxophone, Jordan, also volunteered to solo.
Mrs. Werling’s face lit up, but then she looked down on her notes and had the grin turned quickly into a concerned look:
“Uh-oh! It looks like we already have 1 too many people soloing with the written solos. It looks like somebody is going to have to solo in another song and not solo here, or somebody’s gonna have to make one up!”
Daven spoke up, and said,
“It’s okay Mrs. Werling! I already have another solo in another song, so you should let Jordan and Ava solo!”
Mrs. Werling looked at Daven, and said,
“Daven, that’s very generous of you! I’ll make sure to give you a few extra solos later this year.”
Daven laughed and grinned, and then Mrs. Werling turned her attention back to us:
“Now, Jordan and Ava, there are 2 solos you can pick from. I’m going to play both, and I’m going to see who wants which, okay?”
We both nodded, and then she played the recordings.
I immediately liked the first one better, it just sounded so nice. But apparently, Jordan had the same idea. She and I raised our hands for the 1st one, and I could tell from the look in her eyes that she wasn’t going to back down, so I sighed and said,
“Mrs. Werling, since Jordan wants the solo more than me, I’ll play the 2nd one.”
Mrs. Werling smiled and said, “Okay Ava, I’ll pass the music for the 2nd solo to you, and then I’ll pass the music for the 1st solo to Jordan!”
Note: Since the part where I was rehearsing the solo over and over and over again is super boring, I’m not going to talk about it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The night of the Taste of Grandville came so quickly, and I had practiced really hard on my solo every night up until then. When the time came to go out onto the makeshift stage in the cafeteria in the high school, I got especially nervous. And when I get especially nervous, I start creating scenarios in my head that will probably never happen to anyone in the history of eternity.
I thought to myself, “Ah! Look at all of those people in the audience! What if I accidentally blat a note and sound like an elephant?”, and, “What if I fart louder than my trombone?”, and, “What if I play during somebody else's solo?”, and my personal favorite impossible scenario, “What if my pants fall down?”
After my brain stopped coming up with a sundry of stupid silly scenarios, I finally snapped back into reality:
“Shut up Ava! None of those things are going to happen! Your solo is for 2 minutes, maybe not even, you won’t mess up that badly, and even if you do, it’s just a solo!”
Mrs. Werling raised both hands in the air, and when everyone quieted down, she introduced us to the room:
“This is Grandville Middle School’s 7th grade jazz band, and they’ve been working extremely hard at their music. Our first song is going to be Satin Doll. I hope you enjoy!”
Everyone in the audience clapped, and when their clapping quieted, Mrs. Werling counted us off, and we played.
The unforgettable piano intro was good, then the saxophones’ lick was perfect, and as brass hopped in around measure 12 everything was going according to plan. When we got to the solo section, Jordan’s solo sounded great. Sweetly melodic, just like she had played in class countless times before.
I thought, “Oh that was really good, how can I beat that?”
Then another part of me went, “Oh shut up Ava, you’ll do fine! Now go up there before it’s too late!!”
I walked up to the microphone, and my legs were shaky and my hands were sweaty, but I didn’t let that stop me. I tooked a large breath, let it out, stood up tall, and played my heart out. All I thought about was how I wanted to play it. I ignored the dynamics and just played it how I felt like playing it. I plowed through the rests, crushed the rhythm, and aced the eigth notes. And as the song finished after my solo, I was amazed at how I played the solo with zero error. Once I realized that all I had to do was let my worries go, everything came together just fine.
As soon as we were finished with our performance, I walked off the stage with my trombone in hand and a grin on my face. I looked over to my right and saw Jordan smiling hugging her mom, with her saxophone cradled in her arm. Her mom was smiling back, even bigger than Jordan. I grinned even wider too, seeing how happy she was seeing how welll her daughter performed.
This reminded me that I had a mom in the audience too, and when I looked to my left she was right there. She smiled at me with her big, beautiful toothy grin, and wrapped me in a warm embrace, and said in my ear,
“Great job honey! Your solo sounded amazing, and I couldn’t be more proud of you!”
I laughed and replied back:
“I couldn’t be more proud of me too.”