An Open Letter To The Fourth Grade Trumpet Player Who Sat Beside Me At Your Concert

Dear 4th Grade Trumpeter, I was the one sitting next to you when you at your concert a few nights ago. You may recall me as “that big guy” or “that old person next to me”. I will have you know that, in my world, I am considered typical or average in size. Also, in my world, I am youthful and sometimes sickening to my coworkers, like when they talk about seeing Jaws in 1977 and I inform them that I wasn’t even born then. Don’t think of me as old.

I was there because my wife teaches at your school. I was there because I am a good sport and play along with this sort of thing. I was there because I happen to know your band teacher when she isn’t teaching band. She is a fine musician in her own right. She even teaches other beginning bands besides just yours. Show her some respect. When she says that you are wonderful and fantastic, what she really means is that she is happy you managed to put your mouth on the correct end of your instrument. You have a lot to learn, so pay attention once in a while.

I don’t think you are a bad person. I imagine that I was once close to your age and ability.

That’s why this difficult for me to say.

When started playing at the concert the other night, I had a hard time not laughing. I was unprepared for how bad you and your fellow band members really are at playing your respective instruments. As I said, I was once in your position. There is hope. However, it has been a long time since I was there.

When I took my trumpet out of its case, you thought it was cool and silver. And then you said it was old. My trumpet isn’t old. It is a little dirty. It is a little dented. It is broken in. I have been playing this trumpet longer than you have been alive. (Maybe this means I really am old.) I have played notes you can only imagine. My trumpet is a high quality precision instrument. It is not old.

This isn’t about me, though. This is about you, 4th Grade Trumpeter. You are just starting. I realize this, and I don’t want to be completely negative. You have some real signs of talent. For instance, when you play a note (even if it wrong) and then push some different valves and play the same note again, that is impressive. I can’t do that. When I push valves, different notes come out, no matter how hard I try. I generally play the notes that are written on the page in the correct rhythm as well. You seem to be able to completely ignore the circles and lines on your page and play whatever is in your heart. To this, I say well done.

Although, if you wish to continue playing in a band, it might help to look up once in a while and paying attention. Really. It turns out to be important later. But never let that independent fire go out of your soul.

Sincerely, The Big, Old Trumpet Player With The Old, Dirty Trumpet