MY PLAYING HISTORY - ARTICLE LINKS
- My Playing History - The Beginning
- My Playing History - The Blowout
- My Playing History - The Comeback
Since I was one of the top high school trumpeters in the state, it seemed only natural for me to continue with music when I went to college. So, I enrolled at the music school at the University of Michigan.
As I mentioned in "the beginning", I averaged about 3 hours of practice a day during my senior year of high school. Once college began, I figured I should continue to increase my daily practice time and within a few months I had reached 5-7 hours a day. There were plenty of days where I'd even practice as many as 8 hours. The logic behind these marathon sessions stemmed from my high school experiences. The more I practiced in high school, the better I got. So, it only made sense that the same logic would apply to me at college. Also, I quickly learned that it's extremely cold in Michigan, especially for a kid grew up in Florida. It's so cold, in fact, that once you brave the icy walk to the practice rooms, you tend to want to stay there until you can feel your toes again.
Unfortunately, my lengthy practice sessions didn't produce the results I was looking for. After a few months, my upper lip developed a bb-sized blister on the exterior and the inside of my lip became bloody where I had already formed creases due to excessive mouthpiece pressure. My lip eventually healed, but my playing ability would never be the same. From that point on, I'd always experience some degree of lip pain while playing. Also, while I used to practice for hours on end, I could no longer play for more than 30 minutes before my lip became too fatigued to play. Making matters worse, I often forced my lip to play by using more and more mouthpiece pressure.
Despite the problems with my lip, I was still committed to becoming a professional jazz trumpet player. I was so committed, that after one year at Michigan, I transferred to DePaul University in Chicago so I could live in a big city with more playing opportunities. Before long, I met some other music school students and became a member of a funk band and a jazz combo. For several months, both of these bands had steady gigs once or twice a week. Even though these weren't fancy high-paying gigs, it really felt nice to perform around town in front of other people (even if they were waiting in line for coffee!). Unfortunately, I enjoyed playing live so much that I continually pushed my lip beyond its limits.
At the end of my first year at DePaul, it was clear to me that I wasn't going to be a professional musician. I simply didn't have the chops for it. Also, I was also keenly aware of how difficult it would be to try and make a living as a musician. It would have been extremely difficult even at my peak (my peak didn't even come close to the level that most pro's play at)... but with a weak lip, there'd be no way. So, at the end of my sophomore year at college I dropped out of music school and entered DePaul's business school.
With a more strenuous business school schedule (there isn't much homework in music school!), and since I had to work full-time to make ends meet, I gradually stopped playing the trumpet altogether. During the next seven years, I picked up the trumpet only a handful of times.
On to chapter 3... the comeback