Brass-Holes (Like Me)

It was in the fourth grade that I was first introduced into the wonderful and potentially harmful world of music. Fourth grade was the great barrier for us, because, as everyone knew, fourth grade was the first year of band. Not real band, mind you. We all played the same instrument (the recorder) and the most complicated song we learned as “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.” But it was the beginning of music for us because we actually got to play an instrument during the day in a place where noise of any kind was generally frowned upon. It was paradise, but more than that, it was loud paradise, which was even better.
Some people, myself included, had already been taking piano lessons and already knew music. In my third year of piano, I was already into such classic works as “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Jingle Bells” on both hands, which was quite an achievement for somebody who had trouble figuring out the tune to “Happy Birthday.”
Then, once the recorders had been laid to rest and our last notes played, the summer between fourth grade and fifth, the separation between the lower elementary and middle school wings, it was time to choose my instrument. I had in my mind images of playing something pretty and beautiful, something that a real woman would play, quiet and dainty and so, so pretty. So I chose the trumpet.
It’s been over five years since I chose that instrument. Going into my sophomore year, I have decided to take a moment to remember those early days of music. I have long since quit piano lessons and only learn a new song when I get the irrational urge to display my pitiful skills of the keyboard universe. My main focus is on the trumpet. I have come to realize that, though I am not by any means the most talented trumpeter in my grade, class, or even between me and a chimpanzee, I have grown a tumor-like cockiness and I have (pardon the pun) become a little bit of a brass-hole.
Of course, this is the kind of epiphany you get right after you need it, like when I try to remember where I put my glasses, give up, and find the old pair only after I’ve gone to the eye doctor and gotten a new pair. How can that relate to trumpetering, you may ask? Well, I have stopped playing trumpet. I was unable to fit in band in my freshmen year, and it seems that I will have the same problem all through high school. Also, people have made it known to me that the trumpet is in fact not a quiet, dainty instrument. It is incredibly loud and in the wrong hands can emit a sound that can only be compared to the last words of a dying duck being sat upon by a very large, very bad smelling walrus who has no inclination to get up in the near future. And as for “dainty?” The trumpet is the kind of instrument that could be used to hit a politician over the head without suffering so much as a scratch, even after coming into contact with such a dense skull.
It is for a strange combination of both of these reasons that I am not allowed to play my instrument while anyone in my house is either sleeping or watching TV, the space between which is so small that I could not even unclip the latches on my trumpet case before the window has disappeared. Of course, it’s not my family’s fault. My dad has severe rheumatoid arthritis and has to spend a lot of time resting. I simply find it inconvenient to playing any form of music.
Then, a few weeks ago, a miracle happened. Nobody was sleeping and nobody was watching TV. Nobody, in fact, was even in the house. Which left me several hours to play my beloved trumpet! Hooray! I thought, Trumpet time!!!
It was only when I went to play my trumpet, which I had kept clean for just such an occasion, that I realized how it was acting. It seemed to be sulking and I caught it glaring at me out of the corner of my eye. It was acting positively like a teenager! Worse yet, when I went to play it, it began to maul me! It shrunk its mouthpiece so that I was no longer able to squeeze my lips into such a small space to play the higher notes. My fingers had forgotten how to move quite so fast, and alliteration and dynamics? Forget about it. My only hope seemed to be holding on for my life while my trumpet bounced and scrambled and clawed at me in a desperate attempt to escape. By the time I was done playing, my lips had fallen off and run away, I had a pounding headache from blowing so much air, and my trumpet was limp and drooping in my hands.
It was at that moment that the too-late epiphany hit me. Failing to practice had made me kill my trumpet. It was dead. I had killed it by not practicing! How else would I possibly make music now?
Well, I suppose that I could go back to the fourth grade recorder. I would just have to re-learn the notes…But somehow, that didn’t seem the same. The trumpet was my friend, and we will just have to learn to work this out and get past this whole ordeal, even if sometimes we can both be a couple of brass-holes. After all, all is fair in love and war and trumpetering, right?
Right?





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