DeanI’m a musician.

That is my past, present and future. My music is the thing that my parents talk about to other people. That is my “thing,” my niche, my safety zone, where I breathe and live and dream.

Out of the 10 years that I’ve been playing music, nine years have been spent with me accompanying myself, from behind the piano. Let me tell you something, singing in front of people is so much easier when I’m sitting at a piano. A piano is perfect for hiding. It’s a great excuse. But once I passed the six- or seven-year mark, people started to see right through that. They knew I was hiding. And, finally, I knew it too.

A few months back, my dad was having band practice at our house. (Why, yes, my 50-year-old father does have a band. Clearly he passed the music on to me.) There was no singer present.

However, once the band thought that they had everything down, music-wise, they realized they wanted to run through a few songs with a singer. And, of course, they had just learned “Barracuda,” by Heart. How convenient that it was a song sung by a girl. Even more conveniently, who was right upstairs? Me. A girl. Better yet, a girl who knew the song.

So I was called down to sing for my dad’s band, which was pretty intimidating for me. In my eyes, I was just a teenager who was still new to this compared to these musicians who were experts at their craft.

That was my first step. I will admit it was a teeny baby step. I was still singing in my own living room, with no audience, at a practice. It was in no way a performance. But to me, it seemed like a performance.

My hands were off the keys and onto a mic. My feet were planted firmly on the ground and I was standing. To me, that was a giant step, and my safety blanket was ripped off.

I took my second step this past summer, with my own band. We had a couple of gigs with the same set. The set was about six songs — four originals, two covers. In three out of those six songs (in case you can’t see the frightening percentage there, that’s half of the set) I was only singing. No piano keys to focus on. Unlike my first step, there were actually people, strangers, staring at me while I simply stood, held the mic and sang.

I held on to that microphone for dear life.

Stepping away from the piano and leaving it behind left me vulnerable. I was without my security blanket, in the unknown. In that unknown, everything was strange to me. I wasn’t sure what to do, how to act. My hands had no purpose except to hold the mic. I couldn’t hide. There was nothing to hide me.

Taking those steps was scary; and as of this moment, I’m still scared to take another one, but I know that those steps were good for me.

And even though I’m scared, it’s exciting to think about taking another step, and getting more comfortable with standing on my own, literally. I had to take a step so that I could move forward.

Perrin Dean is a senior at Wilsonville High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Spokesman this year.

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