Mosquitoes have a secret, one that they keep from us humans; they love to play Jazz. Jazz is a type of music played on trumpets, which is very handy for the mosquito as their mouth is a trumpet from which they play all the daylong. In fact, you can hear the mosquito playing Jazz whenever they fly past. Unfortunately, because they are so tiny, to our ears it sounds like an annoying high-pitched buzz, to an insect this is quite brilliant.
The very best mosquito Jazz bands play at festivals where insects come from all over the garden to listen. You can see them dancing during summer evenings, much like human festivals, only they dance in the air.
Elsa was one such Jazz loving mosquito. She wanted with all her heart to play at the big annual festival, Gnatsenbury, especially this year as her favourite band, the most famous in the entire mosquito world, The Net Shop Boys were playing. They were from the next-door garden and were Elsa’s heroes. More than anything she wanted to meet Victor, the bands leader. Young mosquitoes are forbidden from venturing into neighbouring gardens, it is far too dangerous to leave your own garden until you are much older. So everyday poor Elsa would sit at the garden’s edge, forlornly daydreaming.
Elsa had a problem for an aspiring mosquito musician; her trumpet was crooked, shaped much like an elephant’s trunk. No matter how hard Elsa blew, nothing but the tinniest, saddest little squeak escaped. Ever since she was a baby mosquito (which are very tiny indeed) the other mosquitoes made fun of her. “Elephant face!” They would shout, “Did you fly into a wall Elsa?” They would ask while laughing. Elsa would often run away and cry behind the old broken plant pots at the garden’s edge, it was her little escape, her secret place that no one knew of.
It was the day before Gnatsenbury when her classmates Dizzy, Katie and Nikki were practising for their performance the next day. Dizzy had the loudest trumpet in the entire garden, Katie was the prettiest girl in the garden and Nikki was only in the band because her father ran the festival and made sure they would get to play.
Elsa sat down to watch, excited to hear what wonderful music they might make. Dizzy was about to start when she spotted Elsa, perched upon a daisy, clutching a bag of mosquito sweets. “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” She snarled, very loudly, she really did have the loudest trumpet Elsa had ever heard. “I…. I just wanted to hear you play” — “YOU CAN’T BE HERE WHILE WE PRACTISE, WE DON’T WANT YOUR TRUNK FACE PUTTING US OFF!” The other two laughed heartily. When mosquitoes laugh it really is an extremely annoying noise. “OK, I wouldn’t want to put you off but I wanted to let you know, I will also be playing tomorrow.” The laughing became even louder “YOU? YOU SHOULD JOIN A CIRCUS NOT A MUSIC FESTIVAL” Dizzy shouted to the delight of Katie and Nikki.
Elsa could still hear the laughter long after she found her quiet spot under the broken plant pot at the garden’s edge. “Why is my trumpet so bent? What have I ever done to deserve this?” She squeaked. Her voice was very high pitched due to her trumpet’s shape, just another thing for Dizzy, Katie and Nikki to laugh at.
She peered through the fence, watching the sunlight streak through the apple tree, casting beautiful long shadows throughout the garden. For Elsa this was a place of wonder, where the very best musicians were inspired.
Elsa tried as hard as ever to make a sound which resembled a trumpet, but no matter which angle she held it at or how hard she blew, the noise she made was not even close to resembling music.
Eventually she let out a gentle and tired sigh when the strangest thing happened, a sound, which she had never heard before, escaped her misshapen trumpet. Elsa sat up in shock “Did I make that noise?” She asked herself out loud; “Yes you did” came a reply from the other side of the fence. The voice surprised her so much she banged her head on the plant pot. There followed the laughter of several mosquitoes much to Elsa’s embarrassment.
As she got back to her feet, rubbing her sore head, she witnessed a whole line of mosquitoes slowly walking through a gap in the fence, it wasn’t until she saw Victor that she realised it was The Net Shop Boys.
“Are you OK?” asked Victor, now slightly worried Elsa had injured herself as she was looking at him with the most shocked expression he had ever seen. “You… You’re Victor” — “I am indeed. Are you here for Gnatsenbury too? I see you play the saxophone” — “Saxophone?” Elsa asked, it wasn’t a word she had ever heard before. “Yes, you are one of the rarest mosquitoes, you were born with a saxophone instead of a trumpet. Has no one ever told you this?” — “No, never. You mean my trumpet isn’t broken?” This caused the band to fall over laughing “Broken Trumpet?” They screamed “Young lady, you have something far better than a trumpet!”
They all gathered around her and asked her to play something for them. Elsa took a deep breath and blew as hard as she could, only to emit a tiny squeak. She fell backwards, unsteady with the effort and feeling quite silly to have made such a noise in front of her heroes. “Woah! Woah!’ Said Victor “Not so hard, the saxophone needs to be played gently. What’s your name?” — “Elsa but people mostly call me other names, mean names.” — “Well Elsa, people always make fun of what they do not understand. If I can teach you how to play the saxophone by tomorrow, would you like to join us on stage?” Elsa looked at Victor wide-eyed. In her shock she answered by playing the most fabulously loud musical note “Oops”. After more laughter he put his arm around her “I will take that as a yes Elsa.”
And so Elsa and The Net Shop Boys practiced all day. To begin with she was very nervous but as soon as she heard what beautiful sounds she could make with her saxophone, she fell in love with it. Everyone agreed, she was more than ready to play Gnatsenbury.
The day of the festival was sunny and hot and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves a great deal. Elsa watched several of the bands play, all very good, including Dizzy, Katie and Nikki. It was then that Elsa realised not one of the bands had a saxophone and she wondered how the audience might treat her.
It was five minutes before the show, Elsa sat quietly looking at her reflection in a puddle by the side of the stage. “What’s wrong Elsa?” Asked Victor “You look very sad” — “I can’t do this, they will laugh at me. Who ever heard of a mosquito with a saxophone instead of a trumpet? They will call me ‘Elephant face’ and boo me off stage.” A tear fell from Elsa’s face that sent ripples through the puddle. Victor smiled and sat beside her. “Don’t you understand Elsa? People will not see you as something to laugh at; they will love you because you are different. You sound like no one else. Every musician here would trade their tired old trumpet for your saxophone. What you have is a gift.” Elsa looked at her saxophone and smiled, for the first time in her life she thought this might not be a curse, it could be something magical, she might just be the luckiest mosquito in the world. “I tell you what you should do. When you are on stage, forget the people watching you. Close your eyes and play, be yourself, play how you love to and don’t give a moment’s thought for other’s opinion. You know when you are caught in a gust of wind that lifts you higher than you’ve ever been before? When you stop flapping your wings and just go with it? It’s just like when you stopped blowing too hard, allow the music to lift you higher than ever Elsa, those that want to drag you down only do so because they can not fly as high as you.” Elsa suddenly felt stronger than she ever had before.
“Net Shop Boys, you are on!” Came the cry from the stage, it was time for Elsa to shine. As the band reached the back of the stage there were hundreds of fans wanting autographs. “Oh wow! Screamed one fan “You’re a saxophonist! Can I have your autograph?” Elsa paused for a moment, looking behind her for another mosquito until she realised the boy was talking to her. She wasn’t sure what she should write, no one had ever asked for an autograph before. In the end she decided “Elsa” would do. She looked across to Victor who smiled warmly back. Suddenly she recognised the three girls he was signing autographs for, Dizzy, Katie and Nikki. “What are you doing there Elsa? You shouldn’t be in the backstage area.” Shouted Katie. “YEAH,” added Dizzy in her usual deafening fashion “GET OUT OF THEIR WAY ELEPHANT FACE!”. Victor was about to answer for Elsa when she turned in Dizzy’s direction and let out the most awe-inspiring sound anyone had ever heard. Even the humans in the neighbouring garden were wondering what it was. Dizzy, for the first time ever, was lost for words. “You must excuse us,” added Victor “We have a concert to play” and he put his arm around Elsa as they entered the stage.
For an hour Elsa played with her eyes closed, never daring to look up at the audience, hoping with all her heart they wouldn’t boo. Once in a while she might open one eye slightly, just to check they hadn’t all left, but otherwise she just played for herself, letting the music lift her as Victor had suggested.
The last song ended with Elsa putting all she had into it. When she opened her eyes properly for the first time, the audience were staring silently at her. “They hate me,” she thought. Victor stepped up to the microphone “I want to introduce our new saxophonist, Elsa!” The noise that followed almost blew Elsa off her tiny feet, they were not silent because they hated her, they were silent because they were amazed by her playing. “ELSA! ELSA! ELSA!” They chanted. Everyone loved her and for the first time, Elsa loved her saxophone.
In the days that followed, Elsa signed many more autographs, told everyone tales of her time with The Net Shop Boys and made many new friends. Sometimes she would sit at the garden’s edge and play through the fence, often hearing Victor joining in from afar. She would play Gnatsenbury with them every year until she became old enough to tour the mosquito world herself, often with someone who became her best friend, Dizzy. Dizzy never again treated anyone so cruelly and learned her trumpet sounded much better when she didn’t play so loudly, just as Elsa taught her.
So if you ever feel left out and different, remember, that is what makes you unique. If you were a mosquito, which would you prefer, a trumpet or a saxophone? I know which one I would choose.
© Copyright Dean Stephenson 2013