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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 (and oftentimes disruptively loud) displays of musicianship foster a warmth that I can’t imagine hearing in any other section. I didn’t know that I would assume the role of lead trumpet in jazz, specifically. As a fifth grader, I had little to no idea of the context a trumpet plays in. Only now do I appreciate the versatility in style that this brass beauty lends itself to. The trumpet is as well-rounded as an instrument gets, integral to many different genres. I play in wind ensemble, symphony orchestra, jazz ensemble, pit orchestra, marching band, brass quintets, solos, and more—but not without major adjustments to my playing technique. I have the privilege to lead an amalgam of sections, filled with distinctive individuals; it is only through this variety that I was able to identify a singular leadership style—what works and what doesn’t—across all groups. I wouldn’t give up any of my ensembles today; thank goodness I didn’t choose the clarinet. My fifth-grade self may have shallowly chosen the trumpet for its shiny exterior and deafening tone, but her intuition was right: this instrument fits me.
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