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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Authority Figures: Teacher, Mr. B, Scene 2

     I studied the fingering chart, memorizing the various combinations used for the three valves to make all of the notes. It was a bit of a challenge at this point because I was still playing the bass clef trombone music, wile trying to learn the trumpet in the treble clef. As a result of this confusion over the different clefs, I sometimes missed the note while playing my trombone with the band. Mr. B was kind enough not to mention it, but I did notice his arched eyebrows and cringe whenever it happened.

     Soon, I was ready to move on to blowing the notes, not just fingering them on my leg or a tabletop.  Nervously chattering to Tommy as we walked home, I found my much-rehearsed words before stepping on to our block.

     “You know what, Tommy? I learned all of the fingerings for the trumpet already, or I think I did. It’s hard to know for sure without trying to play, I reckon. Tommy raised one eyebrow and looked at me.

    “Oh, yeah? Well, you can come to my house right now and see if you can blow any notes. I’ll let you use my trumpet.” His tone was clear that he fully intended to laugh at my attempts, not believing I could teach myself to play. I, on the other hand, could hardly wait to put that mouthpiece to my lips. And, that’s about as far as Tommy was willing to go that day, too!

     “Okay, here’s the mouthpiece. When we learned, that’s what Mr. B had us do… just the mouthpiece. After a while you can put it in the trumpet.” Disappointed, I reached for the mouthpiece and began to blow. “Hey, Squirt, that’s not bad at all. I have this extra mouthpiece,” he was bending over the still-open instrument case and pulling out his second, “so take it with you. Keep it in your pocket and practice whenever you can.” Tommy was well-aware that his joke had disappointed me, but what he did not know was that it had also ratcheted up my desire to succeed even higher! I would show him I could do it!

     “Hi, Bob! I was wondering… ” the older trumpet player was just about to snap his case closed, following his own practice session. Glancing over to me, he smiled and that encouraged me to continue. “I have been blowing on this mouthpiece, trying to work on my embouchure, and I just wondered if you would mind if I put it into your trumpet to see if what I am doing is right or not.”

     “Uh, well, why not? Go ahead, knock yourself out, Kid,” Stooping down and removing the trumpet from his case, Bob held the beautiful instrument out to me. My first blast was, well, jus that, a blast, not a musical note. “Here, let me show you how to hold it.” Once I had adjusted to match his instructions, we both were surprised at what came out of his horn.

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