. I was first introduced to jazz through my older brothers. The music seemed to flow like nothing I had heard before. I felt like anyone could grab hold of it and make it his or her own. This music was also unlike the classical music I had been listening to sense I was a little kid. Unlike classical music, jazz did not conform to any ones ideas except the person playing the music at that moment.
I had my first opportunity to play classical music in grade school. I choose to play percussion. The music was difficult, and I had to always try to be listening to the conductor, my fellow musicians in order to play together. I enjoyed this music very much, but it was not as free and flowing as the music I had heard coming from my older brother's guitar.
Finally, once I reached junior high school I got the chance to play in a jazz band. I choose to play the jazz drums, and bought my first full drum set soon after. In some ways jazz was like classical music, as we still had sheet music to read off of, but our director also introduced improvisation to us. This is a part if the chart where we have open space to solo, or create our own ideas. This was the experience I had been waiting for. I had no one to tell me what to do, or how to play. I could express myself however I wanted, whether or not the band director even liked it. No more sheet music to read off of. My first performance was in the auditorium at Wilmette Junior High School. Although I was excited, I also felt nervous about soloing I front of the packed auditorium. If I sounded bad, the only person to blame was myself. When the time did come to solo, my anxiety was washed away by my sense of freedom; I felt as though I had been given a glorious opportunity to express myself and not have to conform to any one else's ideas. I did not want to throw away such a wonderful experience. With this thought in mind a pushed through my solo and let my creative side shine.
As I moved to high school, I continued to play jazz drums in the jazz program at New Trier. At New Trier, jazz is a class taken everyday during the school day. Being in high school also meant that we where expected to play at a higher level. in my first performance we played in a packed Gafney auditorium. As I sat down the director began to count off the tune. I felt I had a bigger responsibility than before. I had to lead the bad through the chart, keep good time, and keep track of the form. And then I had to solo. With all these new responsibilities I felt even more nervous than before. But nothing had changed about how I felt about soloing. I was simply doing it on a higher level than before. When you strike all of the keeping time and outlining the form, I still have a job to make this music my own. When the time came to solo, I let all of my worries go and just focused on creating music that was uniquely my own. When the concert was over, I was mentally exhausted but thrilled. I felt like I had found something that would allow me to express myself freely no matter what. I was free from other people's ideas and could write my own.
Today I continue to learn more about drums from my teachers, from listening to professionals, and from watching others play. Although I have continued to grow and developed, my thrill of playing and soloing in jazz has never changed. To me, my drum set represents an instrument that I can use to shape music that is uniquely my own, and does not conform to any other person's ideas other than my own.