Serena A. Mielke
Since seventh grade, now-senior Serena Mielke has always had a surplus of musical talent, but she has still had to persevere through troubling times in her life in pursuit of music.
Walking into the band room for the first time can be an eye-opening experience. It’s nothing like a regular classroom; it’s like a bustling room full of family. Everyone in band is working on something different and unique to them. For senior Serena Mielke, this is especially true.
Ever since Mielke was a child, she experimented with many activities such as soccer and dance, but nothing really clicked for her until she tried band. From the second she picked up the trumpet she knew what her passion was. Since then, she has learned many other instruments.
“Music makes me feel amazing,” said Mielke. “It’s an amazing message that is universal. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white, a girl or a boy, really anything. It doesn’t matter what defines your music and brands altogether, and it makes everyone feel such strong emotions inside that really connect all of us.”
Everything started to fall into place for Mielke in seventh grade when she achieved a higher chair in band class. She found herself realizing that she was capable of being successful in something that she loved to do. From then on, her outlook on music changed.
“I just got more and more inspired to play, almost like I was addicted to it,” Mielke said. “I’m trying to realize that it’s okay to make mistakes because you can only climb when once you fall.”
Unfortunately, in her freshman year of high school when Mielke was trying out for LMEA (Illinois Music Education Association)- an organization dedicated to high-quality music education for Illinois- she overplayed to the point where she couldn’t perform music anymore.
“I lost all the muscle in my lips. I just wasn’t capable of playing, and my lips were all cut up and bleeding,” Mielke said. “I went into my audition and I couldn’t even play one of the easy notes on the instruments, I completely embarrassed myself after all the work I put in. I decided after that I needed to take a step back from practicing and start being aware of how much I was playing. Once you do that to yourself you can eventually lose nerves and your lips and need surgery, and that’s my worst fear.”
Afterwards, Mielke concluded that even though she had failed this time, she would come back and give it all she had. In the history of the school, Mielke for the first time in 15 years, had made orchestra, jazz, and jazz two. Band director, Mr. Untch, has also experienced Serena’s talent.
“She was selected as the trumpet player for District Seven ILMEA for the orchestra but they only take the top players,” Untch said. “That’s a huge accomplishment. She also made ILMEA for jazz band. Making the jazz band is equally as hard, if not harder because they have to be so selective. There are only five trumpet players in a band. She was able to accomplish both so I’d say that’s huge.”
If it’s the trumpet, violin, viola, french horn, ukulele, piano, guitar, or even just singing, Mielke gives it everything she has and plays from deep within her heart to move friends and family to tears.