August 18, 2010

You’re here today because you’ve chosen to learn trumpet. You’ve made a wise choice. You’ve also made a foolish choice.

I know why you chose trumpet. It’s easy. It only has three buttons. Saxophone has, what, a hundred buttons? It also has a wooden reed that will break and leave splinters on your gums. Trumpet is all brass, all day long. Saxophone is a complicated and fickle girl; trumpet is a Spartan warrior. This is what you think, and you are wrong. Trumpet is a banshee. Trumpet is as difficult as life is long. What it lacks in buttons it makes up for stubbornness. When you play trumpet your fingers do little work but your face muscles called the embrasure are pulverized by the instrument’s demands. An untrained embrasure can implode after holding a high C for three bars of allegro four-four time. If you were born with a weak face, I suggest you leave now and check out the percussion room. There is a bell kit with your name on it. It’s a matter of genetics, really. If you have Anglo-Saxon blood, stick around. Your embrasure was made to endure trumpet. Same goes for blacks. As for Turks, Poles and island people, listen carefully. I can’t tell you not to learn trumpet. This is Texas, U.S.A. We are a free state. If I were to say that you will fail at trumpet because your embrasure is inferior, I could be fired. If I were to say that when you hold a high C for more than three bars of allegro four-four time your embrasure will burst and for the rest of your life you’ll have to communicate with a touch-pad that says what you type, your parents could sue me. So I’ll just say that trumpet loves children of all races no matter how ill-equipped they are to play trumpet.

Walk over to the trumpet rack. Choose a trumpet, a trumpet case and a bottle of trumpet oil. From this day on, trumpet will forever be a part of your life, no matter how soon you quit. And you will quit. Everyone quits trumpet. After you quit you will love your trumpet-free life. You will have more time for grab-ass and firecrackers and all that. But years later, trumpet will haunt you. When you are fired from your job you will want to blow away the pain into a warm mouthpiece. When your wife says “You don’t understand me” you will think about the only thing you’ve ever understood: trumpet.

One day you will go into your parent’s basement and dust off trumpet and try to play it. But you won’t be able to. Your embrasure will be too weak; trumpet will be too gunky. Its buttons won’t work and you won’t be able to find the trumpet oil because you never took care of your trumpet accessories. You will hold your gunky trumpet up to your mouth and look at yourself in the mirror and you will feel rotten about quitting trumpet as well as all the other things you’ve learned and quit. You will feel older than you actually are.

Trumpet won’t feel anything.



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