My senior year of high school finally came around it was surprisingly very stressful. Classes were becoming very difficult and preparing for college was getting to the best of me. I easily became overwhelmed during the day, and I found myself only looking forward to going to jazz band towards the end of the day. The mindset that I got as soon as I walked into the band hall was almost surreal. My brain was instantly cleared from any troubles I had. It was almost a feeling of bliss when I grabbed my saxophone and starting playing jazz/funk songs by Stevie Wonder or Chuck Mangione. Letting the chords and notes be played was incredible. Sometimes I felt as if I had been transported into New Orleans, playing in front of a crowd of dozens. Jazz was really helping now. It allowed me to escape the chaos of papers, notes, and exams during the day, and just allow myself to relax, escape from the harsh reality of school and life. The smooth sounds of jazz always rose the hairs on the back of my neck. The harmonies of all the trombones and trumpets sent chills running down my back. I found myself getting lost in the class quite frequently, wishing to stay in that pseudo-reality forever. The feelings of not having a care in the world and being able to play whatever you want, having no structure, is unlike any other feeling.
On many occasions, I had to perform for concerts and gigs that we had both in and out of school. Being a saxophone (especially a tenor), the spotlight was usually put on me. With homework and exams always being at the back of my head, performing for dozens, sometimes hundreds, was phenomenal. Allowing myself to become lost in the smoothness and blues of Dizzy Gillespie, to the upbeat funk and soul of Quincy Jones, I escaped the hectic days, and chaotic assignments given to me almost every single day. Sure, pieces such as Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite or Tchaikovsky’s New World Symphony are beautifully written, but they’re too rigid and formal. It’s coloring in the lines with one three crayons to choose from. Jazz, on the other hand, allows for more creativity. You’re given so many more crayons, and the lines are almost nonexistent; you can color your own picture to your liking. Performing the music given me and being able to add my own twist to it personalized it for me. Jazz isn’t just a style one played, but rather something one creates on their own. Jazz is something people make and play to allow themselves to escape and be put in their own colorful and joyful world. You can unwind and be free from the constraints put upon from classical music. Playing jazz means that there is no such thing as playing a wrong note or a wrong rhythm. It’s about unwinding and having as much fun as you possibly can. Stressing over playing something square and proper, staying in those lines, is not something one will find playing jazz. Personally, jazz is where I do my best work. While playing this certain style does help unwind and destress, it allows for the creativy juices to start flowing.
After graduating, I was able to walk out of my high school feeling a different person. Experiencing something completely different was incredible. I would never have seen myself finding an escape from chaos and all things hectic from school or work through jazz. The laid-back style and being able to not have a care in the world when playing or listening to jazz music allows for a personal escape. There’s no need to worry about playing something correctly, or making sure that everything is perfect (as with classical music). People should truthfully try and add a bit more swing in life and see what happens.