Wizards and Trumpets

In his novel, Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann writes: “We seldom know what we're hearing when we hear something for the first time, but one thing is certain: we hear it as we will never hear it again. We return to the moment to experience it, I suppose, but we can never really find it, only its memory, the faintest imprint of what it really was, what it meant.” Tell us about something you heard or experienced for the first time and how the years since have affected your perception of that moment.

As in Harry Potter, where the wand chooses the wizard, the trumpet chose me—although, at the time, I thought I was choosing the trumpet. Four wind musicians stood before me in my elementary school’s auditorium. Each one played an excerpt showcasing the instrument’s ability, trying to entice us all to play that instrument. I was able to resist the lures of three, but the fourth instrument, the trumpet, captured my eye and resonated with my soul. Little did I know, that sound would come to mean so much more. I didn’t know that choosing this instrument meant that I would find a group of people so similar to me, so in tune with my every quirk. Even if fellow trumpeters don’t understand my Katherine-isms, they certainly—and wholeheartedly—accept them. With an instrument that pierces every melody, one cannot hide mistakes: trumpets are unabashedly themselves. I didn’t know I would be sitting in the back of the ensemble: when you’re far enough away from the conductor, you can just express yourself more. The poor flutes are tightly bound to the conductor’s confines, while trumpets can add their own flourishes—their musical identities—to the piece. All trumpet sections I’ve been in has had the utmost pride in their work; our exaggerated...

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