Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Loving the Note

I got to sit in on my son Christopher's trumpet lesson yesterday. His instructor, Jim Edison, has done it all. He's been the director of college bands; played professionally on tour with big bands and singers; played for the Barnum & Bailey Circus; has formed, managed, and toured with jazz groups; and was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame. He's 70 years old now, and a stroke a few years back left his left hand hanging by his side. But the right hand still plays trumpet magically; and his mind, keen ear, and fine teaching spirit know just when to stop to the music and call a boy's attention to something small that can make the difference between playing a note and loving it.

Did you know that there are many different ways to play a note on a trumpet? Not just loud and soft, but also "in-the-box quiet" and "concert-hall big." There are ways to bite off notes, breathe through notes, gently round notes and "set them down", kiss notes, project notes, and taste notes that sound like "milk and honey." And when you're stretching for the high notes--which is stressful because they're tough to reach and harder to hold--the trick is to relax and breathe; don't screw up your face and tighten your arms and neck muscles. Relax and love the note. Relax and honor your partner, your instrument. Relax and enjoy the moment, filled with music you're contributing to the world.

Each moment we live is another chance to play a note. We can hold moments tenderly or enjoy them heartily and let them go. We can waste them looking back at the past and wishing we were there. We can lose them by fantasizing about other notes we'll play--or moments we'll live--in the future. But we've got a chance to play a note, right now, in any way we choose. Today, may you do it your way, with God's help, and may you both enjoy its sound. :) k

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