Carolyn’s Online Magazine
I positioned the pillow to mute the noise emanating from my rented trumpet.
The sound muted sound barely made it past the trumpet’s bell as my tiny 8- or 9-year-old fingers attempted to correctly push the valves. But try as I might, I couldn’t make pleasant sounds out of that instrument. I had insufficient wind. Perhaps I might have managed the clarinet, but they were gone when my mother took me to rent an instrument. All they had were trumpets.
To this day my older sister Lee blames the pillow for my lack of success, my discouragement. The pillow was necessary because we lived in an apartment building and my trumpet noise disturbed the neighbors.
“If you didn’t have to blow into the pillow you might have managed the trumpet,” she tells me.
After my ill-fated attempt at making trumpet music I ignored musical instruments. They weren’t my bailiwick.
Then I heard a trumpet solo on radio, perhaps Winter Wonderland. Suddenly I couldn’t hear enough horns. Now my husband and I are fans of the River City Brass from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As such, we attended their Christmas Brasstacular December 5th concert at the Palace Theater in Greensburg.
We sat ¾’s into the back of the balcony, beneficial because we weren’t packed into a crowd. Also, I could experiment with my camera. They announced no flash photography. The camera I just received as a birthday/Christmas gift (for the rest of my life) has an ISO setting of 12,800—which takes decent photos in very low light. I tried shooting during the performance. NOTE: This was the first time I heard no flash photography instead of no photography, period.
Brass horn notes danced through the air, sometimes minueting like a graceful Sugar Plum Fairy—other times all over the stage like a jazzy hip dance. Thoughts of my childhood trumpet experience danced to whatever music was playing.
Notes of the Parade of the Tin Soldiers brought the audience back to attention after the intermission. Ah, music reminding me of another activity abruptly cut short because I didn’t have sufficient wind.
Kensington High School in Buffalo, New York, was blessed with a swimming pool used for a water show. I boldly participated in a water dance to the Parade of the Tin Soldiers. After one performance the water instructor gently guided me to another activity. I knew she was right—I was no more of an athlete than I was a musician—and I was somewhat relieved not to have to perform again.
The brass band came prepared with an encore, which they were going to play whether or not the audience gave them the standing ovation they did.
Again, the musical notes took me back to high school.
Every Christmas it presented a major musical production. Again, I participated. This time I could do little damage because I was one of a hundred singers sitting in the front of the large auditorium. Grateful to be excused from classes, I mouthed the words to the music.
Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, the encore piece, reminded me of this production. How wonderful to hear the brass horns playing this piece.
I never regretted that I was unsuccessful at playing the trumpet. Looking back, my success lay in my attempt to conquer the instrument.
I guess this is what life is about. We are all gifted in some things and not gifted with other things. When we find and nurture our God-given gifts, instead of bemoaning what gifts we weren’t given, life can become joyful and pleasant.
I will enjoy the trumpet and other brass instruments whenever the opportunity arises—relishing the memories the trumpet and musical pieces elicit. However, I’ll not attempt to play the instrument, nor will I attempt swim dancing. I’m satisfied with being a writographer—no, more than satisfied. It’s a joy to use the gifts God gave me.