cash-practice-secrets-namba-gear-image.jpg“Either make food [help us prepare lunch] or make music for us” is what my mom told us boys every week after church. I could never understand why my brothers didn’t jump at the chance to get out of “before dinner duties” for a song. When my arm was long enough to reach around the scroll of a full size violin I started bowing (more on that in a later episode).

After that came piano plunking and finally in about 5th grade the trumpet tooting. It wasn’t always smooth going. When my mom announced one evening that I would be in the Ludwig elementary school intermediate band my stomach wrenched. I didn’t feel ready. I rapidly retreated to my bedroom grabbed my trumpet (a cornet really) and BLASTED a tune of protest.

Sorry this blog can’t sing well yet but the song went, “Never, no-o-o NEVER…. I was trying to make my trumpet “sing”, “Never, NO-O-O NEVER Play in a band“. When the time came to go the next day she just came, took me to the car and off we went. This expanded my trumpeting. I actually came to quite enjoy it. For a time I even reigned in first chair position. I tooted all through high school but put the trumpet on break until graduating from PT school.

By and by I dusted it off and actually excelled beyond my earlier abilities. I played solos and put together trumpet trios, brass quartets, quintets and small ensembles for local churches. As a hobby I continued playing after getting married to my wife who is especially talented on the violin and piano. I had admired our local pastor’s pocket trumpet (the same length but just wrapped a lot tighter) so when my wife and I visited the Czech Republic a year after our marriage I bought one.

Unable to delay testing the shiny silver-plated instrument I took it out to the street. Street musicians are common in Prague (they say “Praha” over there) so I was pretty sure there would be no protest. Just to make sure no one would feel obligated to give me a tip I went all the way to the curb so no one could walk in front of me. I crouched down just inches from where cars were passing by, popped open the case, grabbed the trumpet, plugged in the mouthpiece and “let go” with a gospel medley including, “I’m Gonna’ Sing, Sing, Sing”, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Oh When the Saints, Go Marching In”.

As I entered the last chorus something flashed by my right eye, went “tink” and rolled to a stop against my trumpet case. Finishing the series I paused for a breath I found a shiny 5 crown coin had been thrown by a passer-by. My wife said, “We should have bought that trumpet earlier”. “You could have paid for the trip”!

When we returned stateside we found that local assisted living facilities were quite willing to spend money to hear us play and tell stories to entertain them. They valued our music enough to pay for it. I also believe sharing my musical interests helps some clients “connect” with me and makes them more willing to pay for their treatment.

Were my/our eyes opened by a little “tink” on the sidewalk? What if I’d left that trumpet in the case until we got home? Do you think we’d have gotten into making our hobby pay for itself if I’d not played and gotten paid on the street that day?

If you open the case of my pocket trumpet you would see a the trumpet, a small place for the mouthpiece, a tiny spot to wedge in a thimble-size bottle of valve oil and a tiny plastic bag. Have you guessed what is in that tiny plastic bag? Of course it’s that first 5 crown coin. Are you making your talents available to those who appreciate them?

All the best,

Lance
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