Ennis has already been mentioned a couple of times in this blog. Once for his making a successful conversion to braces, and then for earning first chair in his middle school band. And now I find him worthy of mention once again for the great job he did in his last lesson. Ennis had just come from the orthodontist, and all of the resulting work on his braces left him in quite a bit of pain. Although he had an hour makeup lesson scheduled for that day I was told that he might have to excuse himself at any time due to the discomfort he was experiencing.
I should mention that the pain I’m talking about was not related to the mouthpiece pressure on the lips. Ennis has learned how to play without mouthpiece pressure, and so the pain he was enduring was due the dental work. However, in order to play the trumpet without pressure, a lot of other skills must be in place (to mention just two…a focused embouchure and support coming from a flowing airstream). Any distraction (like a mouthful of pain) could easily cause a player to be careless with their embouchure setup or air support.
In spite of that temporary disadvantage, Ennis gave his complete attention to the work at hand, and even excelled at everything he did during his lesson. Most impressive was his performance of the written solo on “Oye Como Va,” composed by the late, great salsa band leader, timbale player, and arranger, Tito Puente. Salsa music is known for its demanding trumpet parts, and although this arrangement was for middle school band, its several high Gs are a challenge for trumpet players that age. Not so for Ennis…for even with the pain and distraction he was dealing with he played better than I have ever heard him play before. All of the high Gs on top of the staff sounded full, clear and effortless, the music’s tricky articulation was under complete control and the tonguing was very crisp and clear…perfect for the style he was playing in! This happened about thirty minutes into his lesson, and yet he never showed any signs of fatigue. In fact, as we moved on to another piece that has been giving the band’s entire trumpet section fits, he began to master that as well, and completed the entire hour lesson in fine form.
I’m proud of you, Ennis! Bravo to you for your great playing that day (in spite of the pain), and for all of the good work you have done in the past that led up to that success.