My Trumpet Journey

I have been playing the trumpet since I was 9 years old—that’s 40 years, now.  There are few things in the world that I like to do better than play trumpet.  When I went to college I majored in music with an emphasis in trumpet but to tell you the truth I had too many issues to reach my full potential.

I know I don’t have the skill or even the potential to become a virtuoso, but I have always known I could be better than I was, better than I am.  When I was in college I had several issues that kept me from doing my best:

  • I had a low sense of self-worth which led to many negative characteristics.
  • I didn’t have the discipline to practice properly.  Even though I played a lot it wasn’t disciplined practice. 
  • I wanted to do what I wanted to do and I had little tolerance for doing things I didn’t like.
  • I had a real problem with making excuses to justify poor performance and negative behavior.
  • I was very defensive and argumentative whenever I was confronted regarding any of my other negative traits.
  • And others.

I mention these because they had a direct influence on my trumpet playing and my potential. 

In college, I had a great trumpet teacher but I was not a great trumpet student.  He is an incredible performer and has been a great inspiration for me over the years.  At the time I didn’t appreciate what I had.  I was so focused on me and blinded by my defects in character I couldn’t let him teach me.  I have thought a lot about this in the years since then and I see now the many obstacles that kept me from being a better player.

When I was in college, and for about 5 years after, I would get so nervous when I played in front of people I would go dry and stumble through passages I could play easily when alone. I was so self-conscious and afraid in front of people that I really didn’t like it or seek out opportunities to play. 

After graduating from college I got a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and spent the next 20 years working as a counselor/therapist in various positions.  At the same time, I was working as Minister of Music/Music Director in several churches as a part-time person.  During this time I was playing trumpet off and on but with a full-time job as a therapist and part-time job with a church I didn’t have a lot of time to practice.  I was able to play frequently in services, revivals, community bands, quintets, etc. but my practice time was limited and my embouchure and endurance were poor. 

IMGP3791 About 16 years ago I was in the middle of a time of spiritual renewal and I turned everything related to my trumpet and playing over to God.  In that moment everything changed.  I didn’t get afraid playing in front of people anymore.  My playing improved 100% with very little effort. I gained a newfound confidence about playing trumpet I had never had before. I began getting more opportunities to play and played whenever I could. 

As the years passed and I got busier with work, church, and family responsibilities my time for practicing and playing trumpet continued to decrease to the point I would go for months at a time without the opportunity to play. 

I have always loved playing trumpet and still love it.  I am in a place in life, now, where I have time to play.  Emotionally, I have been working on the negative traits mentioned above since I first began working on my graduate degree in counseling.  Time well spent.  I am not the same man I used to be.  It is true I never reached my potential as a trumpet player and I intend to do all I can to change that. 

My plan includes systematically working my way through Arban's Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet.  I am recording my practice times and reviewing the recordings and rating my progress.  My plan also includes blogging about my experience, insights, and progress. 

I am about three weeks into this plan and I can see and hear progress already.

My trumpet journey is just getting exciting.  Who knows what my potential is? I certainly don’t but I do know I will enjoy the journey.