Meet Kakuyon

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The very first time I ever played jazz, over the tune Freddie Freeloader, I had no idea what I was doing but it was the greatest feeling of my life.”

My name is Kakuyon Mataeh and this is my fourth year at JAZZ HOUSE KiDS. I have been playing trumpet for seven years, and began my jazz studies when I started at the JAZZ HOUSE. The very first time I ever played jazz, over the tune Freddie Freeloader, I had no idea what I was doing but it was the greatest feeling of my life. My sophomore year of high school, finances really hit hard for my family. I needed to pick up more hours at my library job and couldn’t continue with the Dynasty Big Band or Messengers that spring. I remember both Melissa Walker and Nathan Eklund reaching out to me that spring about why I wasn’t continuing. I wanted to stay, but my life didn’t allow it at that time.

Heading into my junior year, my audition earned me a place in the Sunday Instrumental Academy and I knew I needed to find a way to be back at the JAZZ HOUSE. But, despite returning, my expanded work schedule wouldn’t allow me to make the full commitment to my ensembles. Halfway through the school year, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS arranged a scholarship from a private donor to provide weekly lessons, which I’ve always wanted, and a stipend to cover my school transportation and other personal  needs. With the scholarship, I
was immediately able to drastically cut back my work hours and start practicing right after school or ensembles.  
My energy at the JAZZ HOUSE was much more positive and I could truly focus on the rehearsals.

My weekly lessons with Nathan have allowed me to really move forward with my playing. Nathan is really organized and that helps me because in the past my practicing was not organized. He is available for me 24/7. Once I texted him at one o’clock in the morning and he immediately replied with an answer. And when we can’t do a lesson one week, he offers to Skype so we don’t get too far behind. As I look to going to college, these skills have helped me stay on the honor roll so I can go to a great school.

I constantly think about how if I ever got rich or won the lottery, I would donate most of it back to JAZZ HOUSE KiDS. They have truly gone the distance to help me realize my full potential and have always made the experience for me about the music, not the money.

I wish that many other deserving students will have the same experience that I have had. I hope you will donate to JAZZ HOUSE KiDS help make this a reality for them.

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