By Makayla Braaten
As I step out on stage, I look to my left and to my right, I think to myself “How have I made it this far? Is this actually real?” I close my eyes and take in the crowd’s energy. I look behind me to the drummer and nod, “This is it,” I tell myself, “We’re finally here!”
For my last student writing article for this year I wanted to switch things up a bit. I’ve decided to tell you a little bit about myself and what my future holds. Growing up, I had a great passion for the underwater sea world. I was obsessed with anything marine life, I loved the water and going to zoos to see different animal species. I spent a lot of my time reading all sorts of books on marine biology. I was certain that I was going to grow up to be a marine biologist some day. Until my fourth grade year came around…
The day we needed to sign up for our band instrument, I still hadn’t chosen what I wanted to play. I switched my options about five times before my parents finally told me I didn’t have a choice anymore. They told me I was going to play the bass guitar because we had my dad’s old one that hadn’t been used and it was better than spending money on another instrument. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of that option at all!
In the summer we had lessons and I happened to be ahead of schedule. I was checking off every test easy-peasy and it caught my teacher by surprise. I was catching onto things way faster than most of the students and it was only my first year.
After that I began to find my love for music. I joined a jazz band, went to all sorts of music camps, got scholarships, volunteered to help out younger jazz bands and tapestry concerts, etc. I filled my life with music and kept improving my skill. I would always get told how great I was at playing my instrument but I never really believed it, until just recently. Looking back on my elementary/middle school (and kind of high school) career I realize how much dedication I had for my music life and how much growth I had throughout the years. In the beginning, I was not enjoying being the only person who played bass guitar (besides with two other people) but in the end, it grew on me and I fell in love with the career path I was on.
When I was in the ninth grade, I got tickets to my first concert and was extremely excited to see more of the performing side of music (instead of the teaching aspect). While I was in my seat, watching the performers, I connected to the music on a deeper level. I thought back on the times we had our own school concerts and how I loved being able to perform music for people. It was an unforgettable experience that led me to start attending concerts frequently and made me rethink the idea of being a music teacher.
For me, I wasn’t going to see these artists because I was hardcore fan-girling and wanted them to touch my hand. From musician to musician, I was understanding them as a person and what their music was telling me. Most people would say they went to a concert to enjoy some music and have fun with friends, but for myself, I go to see a person who’s like me. A person who puts themselves into their music and shares it with the world, who shows what their passions are through an enjoyable night and a person who understands what music has done for them by finding who they really are from performing. Whenever I perform, my mind goes to a whole different world where it’s just me and the music, my safe place. My dream is to be up on a stage, making any kind of a connection with the people who support me, and have loads of fun doing it.
Makayla Braaten is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 21st year.