Trumpet Discussion Discuss Belated Thanks in the General forums; Hi Manny,
I owe you a belated thank you. Let me explain...
Several years ago I had a major chop ...
I owe you a belated thank you. Let me explain...
Several years ago I had a major chop breakdown. I was literally at my best (playing-wise) one day and the next I could hardly make a sound. I had no pain, but woke up that day with my lips feeling odd and lifeless and I just couldn't even get a mouthpiece buzz to work.
Well, to spare the long details, I saw piles of doctors, gave up even trying to play after about a month and stopped entirely for maybe 18 months. Somewhere in the midst of that downtime I sent a letter to you. You could've ignored the letter--one less trumpet hack, so what? You didn't. You called me one day, suggested I visit Dr. Jennine Speier at Sister Kenny Rehab and suggested I visit Arnold Jacobs to get my playing back.
I did both. Actually, Jennine was out of town for a time when I first called so I saw Dr. Nancy Hutchison, an associate of hers. Nancy was not only the first doctor I saw that actually understood some specifics of the needs of musicians, but most importantly cared enough to learn. All doctors I visited prior to that (many, I might add) all carried the attitude, "So, your lips feel odd and you can't play trumpet any more. And that's important in what way?" One neurologist actually said, "There are many other opportunities in music than just the trumpet." I responded that if I reached over and broke all of his fingers I'm sure that he could find another position in medicine. He didn't find that as funny as I did. The doctors at Sister Kenny brought about a complete turnaround in my recovery. I'll admit that mostly it was attitude. They never did truly discover the cause, but it was with their start that I began to recover, both mentally and physically.
The most important mental recovery as far as actually playing was concerned came with Arnold Jacobs. My lips (now 11 years after the original incident) still don't feel like they belong to me. Most days when I put the trumpet to the lips it feels as if it has never been there before. It's not a good thing. Jake taught me to overcome the physical feelings and to play well despite that, relying on my ears, the air, and what I already know to be right. I wish I could've spent more time with him before he was gone, but I can still hear his words in my head as I play.
So, that's it. I was on the edge of selling my horns, assuming I had no choice but to give up for good. Your advice got me moving back in the right direction. I have been back at playing public gigs for about the past 6-7 years, although it was especially tough initially. My lips still feel somewhat dead and lifeless (although not nearly as bad as when this started and it is improving every year), but I've learned to live with it. Since the recovery I've had performances of Brandenburg #2, played the world premiere of Robert Bradshaw's Sonata, lots of interesting material with the chamber orchestra, two solo recitals and have another coming up in a couple weeks (this time entirely on corno da caccia, not trumpet, but still a lot of playing nontheless). It's good to be back.
I have thanked you several times to myself and should've contacted you earlier. What may have seemed like simple little suggestions to you at the time completely turned my musical life around.
Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra
Sheldon Theatre Brass Band
I did nothing.
You and your gumption did it all. You could have ignored my simple words . You didn't. You, the docs, and Arnold are the true heroes here.
Your words, as I prepare for a pair of Brandenburgs and Nerudas of my own in the next couple of weeks, inspire me.
I had a similar situation where the words of one person one day totally changed the course of my life.
I was in 7th grade and at the time I was playing my old junker King Cornet that my cousin abused prior to handing it down to my sister who in turn handed it down to me. I had the clunkiest horn in the band and because of that, one day I decided that I just wasn't going to play in band - I was just going to leave my horn in the boxes/shelves at the back of room, tell the director that I forgot my horn at home, and screw around in the section during class. On top of this was the fact that I had totally bombed the chair placement tryout a couple of weeks prior (due to not practicing) and although I wasn't last chair, I was pretty close to it.
About halfway through band that day I got ratted on by an 8th grader who upon spying my horn case on the shelf, went and got it and placed it on my lap. Of course I was mortified and of course I had to go in after school to try to explain why I lied about not having my horn.
When I went in the director, Mr. McQuistan, asked me why I lied about not having my horn. I told him it was because I didn't want to play because I wasn't very good. (Did I mention I was sitting almost last chair in a section of more than 15?) He then instructed me to go get my horn and we went over some things. Aside from the obvious problem that I didn't read rhythms very well, I proved to be a fast learner and soon I was nailing the part that we had been asigned for chair placement auditions. After I played it though without a mistake, Mr. McQuistan said to me the words that changed my life:
"Pat, you can play, you just don't practice!"
With that bit of encouragement, I started working harder and the next time we were informed that another chair placement tryout was coming up, the "Even Now" section of a Barry Manilow medly called "Manilow Magic", I practiced and practiced. Someone here on TH signs with the statement "Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong." That's exactly what I did. When the smoke cleared after the tryout, I was 3rd chair out of the entire 7th and 8th grade band behind one 8th grader and a fellow 7th grader - a position that I more or less maintained for the remainder of the year. (At times I was actually 2nd chair.)
Without that event, I wouldn't be here today. I may have given up playing horn in Junior High and I certainly don't think that I would have found it within myself to excel. Jeff McQuistan conveyed that he believed in me at a time in my life when I didn't believe in myself. If I had stopped playing, I wouldn't have pushed myself to excel. I wouldn't have become an Army Bandsman. Without becoming an Army Bandsman I would not have met my wife. Without meeting my wife, I wouldn't have my two wonderful Children. I can say without a doubt that day in the 7th grade had an immesurable impact on my life.
I once wrote Mr. McQuistan a letter thanking him, but as Manny pointed out, the person that did the real work was me, but at the same time, one can never discount the value of good advice or an encouraging word properly placed.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity"
"At my signal, unleash hell."
- Maximus Decimus Meridius
Yes, the summer before eigth grade i got really into football and decided trumpet was for sissies, i dont think i picked the horn up all summer, time came to sign up for classes, i showed up in the gym of the junior high school where all the teachers were convened for class sign-ups, i walked over to where the football coach was supposed to be but he wasnt there, i was late and he had already left, my mom said well why dont you just sign up for band again, i did, and now i play at least 2 hours a day mostly more and am going to be a music ed major in college and hopefully get my doctorate and teach trumpet at a university, wow, its amazing how fate can dictate the decisions we make in life.
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