When My Captain was a tadpole, he played the trumpet and the coronet. He got so good at it in high school, that by the time he graduated, he had acquired an American-made (Bundy) workhorse of a trumpet, a coronet, and a silver concert Bach Stradivarius, which, to those like me who know bupkiss about brass instruments, is impressive. That Bach trumpet today would be worth several thousand dollars.
When he went to Virginia Tech after high school, he left his beloved horns at home in the basement.
Fast forward, everyone had grown up, and had kids. My Captain’s nephew had begun to play the trumpet, and was using My Captain’s old workhorse.
He was not, er, gentle with it. It got USED. Then he graduated and back the trumpet went to the basement.
Fast forward again, this time to the present. Now My Captain is helping me raise my children, and once again, a young boy wants to play the trumpet. Critter asked his music teacher, Ms. Sprague, if he could try playing the trumpet. She showed him how it worked, loaned him the school trumpet, and he put it to his lips….
….and played like he has always played. Like it was nothing to have chops and make sound by pursing his lips and spitting raspberries. Like he was born to play it. She emailed me and told me she had never seen anything like it, and would we consider putting him in band class? Critter wanted it….who was I to dissuade him?
So once again, the old American workhorse of a trumpet was pulled out of the broken leather case in the basement and called into service. This time, however, it needed some love. It had broken bits on its broken bits. It had dents and pings, and bends that belied a busy nephew’s years of use. I took it to the music shop and they said they could put it to working order for about ….$450.00.
My husband is a fireman, not a surgeon. That was a lot of money! What if Critter didn’t keep playing it? What if it was a waste of money? I hemmed and hawed, but then Grandma Jane and Critter’s dad said they’d pitch in, and it was decided to fix it.
The night we got it from the shop, we couldn’t find Critter. It was getting dark, and he’d been missing for a fair amount of time. He had simply taken his newly refurbished trumpet, and vanished. We eventually found him outside on his swing by the hammock in the fading light… just him, the crickets, and the last few hardy fireflies leftover from the dying summer…. …playing like Dizzy Gillespie must have at his age, (only skinnier).
He doesn’t even know how to read music, or know what all the names of the notes are. All he knows is that he can control the music that comes out of that thing. I mean everything…from the tone, to the pitch, to the clarity and volume! For a boy who has very little control in his 11-year-old life, having control of something as magical as music, is golden.
We let him stay out there to practice for…get this….over two hours….before we called him in out of the dark. He would play anything that came to mind. He played the theme to the Pink Panther. He played the theme to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He played the theme to Club Penguin. You know, all of the classics.
And that beat-up old trumpet….that dinged-up, American-made workhorse, and not the Bach Stradivarius…
has become the most precious thing that little boy believes he has ever owned.