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Trumpet – I Started Here

The trumpet is a piece of metal. It has seven moving parts – four slides, and three valves. It is a tube about six and a half feet long and you blow air through it. How hard can it be?

6th Grade Band

The trumpet is an instrument I know well. My relationship with the trumpet started in 6th grade with a close relative of the trumpet – a cornet. When I started beginning band at school I was the only kid with a cornet. All the others in the section had a trumpet and I disliked my little cornet, but it was the instrument available to me and it worked pretty well. It was old and had a unique look to it with an engraved bell and two tone lacquer/nickel finish. It had an extra slide with a thumb screw just before the bell section. My mom found it for sale in the classified ads and acquired it for less than $40.00. Years later we did the research and traced its lineage as a 1935 Conn cornet. As a professional musician, I played a lot of dixieland jobs with the cornet. I still have that horn and it has paid for itself many times over. You never know where the beginning band will lead.

7th Grade Band

After much complaining and regular practice, we found a used trumpet for 7th grade band. I was ecstatic to finally have a trumpet and I played that horn all the way through three high school bands. I am what is commonly referred to as an ‘Army brat’. My father’s military career afforded me the opportunity to be a part of marching band programs in Maryland, Illinois, and Texas. Band helped me make friends and become part of each new school community. I had a lot of fun in school band! As I look back on it, I see the school band was also helpful to my parents in adjusting to each new location. My parents always knew where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing as a member of the school marching band.

High School Band

My junior year in high school was a turning point. I had a study hall period and rather than do homework or sleep like the other kids in the class, I got permission to work in the band hall music library. Sorting and organizing that library taught me valuable skills which benefit me still today. My band director, Mr. Graham, provided a clear expectation and directions for me to completely reorganize the music library on my own. He wanted to know what music he had and where to find it. The rest was up to me. Over the course of a semester, I developed self-discipline and a work ethic to get the job done. I discovered if I worked quickly and efficiently, I could create more free time each day. In my free time, I read old issues of music education magazines I found in the library which led to my next musical development.

Professional Instrument

I bought my own professional trumpet in the summer before my senior year in high school. I earned the money bagging groceries. I talked my brother into riding the train with me downtown to the music store showroom. I had learned about trumpets reading the magazines in the music library. Mr. Daniels was the man who showed me the different models of trumpets and left me all alone in a room to try them out. I had a plan on how to evaluate a trumpet and I played the same exercises on several trumpets. I took my time which made my brother impatient, but finally I found the one I wanted.

Mr. Daniels was very encouraging, recommended a case, and suggested I wait a few days and come back again to be sure. He explained pricing and gave me his phone number. A week later, my brother and I made another trip to the store and I came home with my new trumpet. I have since used this trumpet to turn air into money for many years.

Musical Life

After high school, I studied music in college, learned instrument repair, traveled as a commercial musician, recorded original music with my own group, and taught public school band and elementary music. I continue to live a musical life and I value the many lessons shared with me by great musicians all around us.

Learning a musical instrument is a worthy endeavor for students of any age. The language of music is universal across the globe and musicians know how to get along well with others. Music changes lives for the better. Music education provides opportunities for everyone involved – students, parents, teachers, friends and family, and the entire community. I started with the trumpet and it opened up a world of opportunity.

Music is good for the soul. Start here.

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