Now where did I leave my lips?

2 minute read

Six days from today (one week from yesterday), I go to my first practice with the Petaluma Community Band. I’m not entirely sure what convinced me to overcome my normal inertia and join, but there you have it. I’d considered doing something of the sort while I was in Oakland, but that never really panned out. Aside from getting to play my trumpet again (which, for those of you just tuning in, is something I did for, oh, say, eighteen years or so), there’s the chance that I might even meet some people. Maybe even (dare I think it?) people who like playing European board games.

Filled with the best of intentions, this evening I got out my trumpet and started ramping up for my upcoming Sonoma County debut.

Problem #1: my horn
It’s such a good horn. A high-class piece of equipment. A gorgeous silver Besson 709, I’ll have you know. The thing is, when you leave a trumpet sitting around for a few years… Let’s just say that perhaps certain mechanisms don’t have quite the same action that they used to. Al Cass slide and valve oil to the rescue! Apply that liberally to the neglected valves and they’re jetting along quite nicely again, thankyouverymuch. The slides, on the other hand… Oy. The most I can say for them is that they still move, albeit with some effort. I’ll have to tackle that one tomorrow.

Problem #2: the music
At this point it’s best to pick things up at the start, so out comes the Clarke’s studies. A few scales will do a gal good. Whoa, hang on. What is that note, anyway? Um, OK, count the lines… Alright, it’s a G. A low loooow G. Sharp. I’d say that it all looks like Greek to me but that would be a lie. Greek looks much more familar right now.

Problem #3: the body
We won’t even consider for the moment the traumatic effect that a Bach 5C mouthpiece is having on my lips. [ed. note: Yes, I still have the beautiful Schilke which can totally wail and accept so much air through it that I’ve almost passed out, but the 5C seemed a wiser choice for rebuilding an embouchure.] No, we won’t deal with that obvious issue. What comes as a rather large surprise is the effect playing has on other parts of my body. For instance, my wrists. I would never for a moment have considered that I have weak wrists, when when the left one starts complaining about having to hold up a horn and practice mute for a little while then there’s no denying the fact. And who would have thought that it actually requires muscles to press the valves? Sure, it’s easy enough to do (again, thanks to Al Cass and his miracle oil), but there are muscles there which you just don’t use regularly. Not even while typing. Thankfully I’m in decent shape so my lungs were up for the task. Thank God for small favors.

The total duration of today’s practice was a whopping twenty minutes. Many chromatic scales were played (not altogether well) and by the end of it the notes no longer looked like chicken scratch and the motor memory had kicked in on the fingers. Here is is twenty minutes later and my lips are still tingling slightly. Dang… Well, at least if I put in at least twenty minutes a day for the next five days I might just have a chance of avoiding looking like a complete hack come practice on Monday.

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