is Back! So What Comes Next?

Reflecting on my future plans and aspirations, especially in the context of my recent experiences, I realize I still need about another six months to fully process and integrate these insights before I can confidently embark on this new path.

I’ve come to understand that music, like love and joy, is meant to be shared. Playing alone in my living room, even if it results in a personal best performance, lacks the depth and meaning that comes from sharing it with others. It’s about the exchange of joy and love, a two-way street that necessitates an audience. I want to acknowledge and appreciate their presence and their right intentions, something I might have overlooked in the past.

This realization also leads me to reflect on the broader culture of symphony orchestras, which I grew up believing to be rather joyless at times. I recall hearing about a study, possibly in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting that symphony musicians ranked low in job satisfaction, just above prison guards. Though I’d need to verify the exact study, it’s a thought-provoking insight. I believe this dissatisfaction might stem from a disconnection from the audience. Musicians often get caught up in technicalities, forgetting that the audience primarily seeks to enjoy the music, not scrutinize every minor detail.

Many musicians, like myself, enter the field with a deep love for music, but over time, this passion can be eroded by the culture and the grind of professional performance. I remember discussing with Ed Carroll, who took a significant break from playing, about the diminishing excitement of repeatedly performing the same pieces. This routine can lead to a loss of connection with the audience, transforming what was once a labor of love into something mundane or even burdensome.

Looking ahead, I envision a different approach for myself. My priority would be to share love through my music, to offer the audience something meaningful, irrespective of the piece or the level of technical proficiency. Additionally, I aim to share the skills I’ve acquired over the years, including breathing techniques and embouchure work, to assist others in their trumpet playing journeys. My goal is not just to perform but to connect, teach, and share the joy and love that music brings, in a way that enriches both my audience and myself.

Reflecting on my relationship with the trumpet, I see it as a journey that has evolved over time, much like any deep connection we develop in life. Initially, there was this sense of clinging too tightly to it, almost a possessive kind of love. I was fiercely competitive, jealously guarding this relationship I had with my instrument. Looking back, I can describe this phase as being overly protective, fearing the loss of something so integral to my identity.

However, such intensity, if not managed, can lead to a toxic dynamic. Love, in its most passionate form, can slip into hate – they’re indeed two sides of the same coin. I’ve experienced this firsthand. The frustrations and challenges with the trumpet have led to numerous heated moments, where it felt like I was in a screaming match with the instrument itself. It sounds bizarre, but that intensity of emotion was very real.

But now, I’m approaching my relationship with the trumpet from a healthier perspective. I’ve come to understand that it’s okay to love the instrument, to genuinely cherish and value this connection. Our society, or at least the music culture I was part of, never really acknowledged or discussed this kind of emotional bond with an instrument. We learned the mechanics, the techniques, but the emotional aspect – the love for the instrument – wasn’t a topic of conversation or instruction.

I wish that as a young student in sixth grade, someone had told us that it’s normal and perfectly okay to develop a deep love for our instruments. Such guidance could have helped in managing the emotional aspects of this relationship better.

Now, with a renewed perspective, I see the trumpet not just as an object or a tool for music, but as a partner in my musical journey. It’s about embracing this love, respecting the instrument, and understanding the emotional depth it brings to my life. This balanced view is not just healthier but also more fulfilling, allowing me to engage with my music and my instrument in a more profound and meaningful way.

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