Trumpet Lesson at the Metropolitan Opera, pt. 1



Metropolitan Opera, New York City (photo: Damian Entwistle)

Years before I took up the harpsichord, I played the trumpet, starting during my freshman year of high school. Admittedly, it was bit late to take up a musical instrument, but that never stopped me from falling in love with the trumpet and throwing myself into serious study (to the chagrin of my father).

I was pretty much a fanatic from the get-go and often took lessons, either from a regular teacher or (one-offs) from symphony musicians in both New Orleans and Philadelphia—cities near the two high schools I went to.

During my senior year, a bandmate of mine was dating a trumpet player who, at the time, attended the Manhattan School of Music. Her name was Kiku and she studied with Mel Broiles, then principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.

I barely remember meeting Kiku, but I do recall she was both beautiful and talented. Not long after we met, I asked my friend to see if she might be able to arrange a lesson for me with Mel. A trip to New York with my father was coming up and I definitely wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, if it was doable.

(In high school, I had absolutely no fear of approaching anyone for a lesson, in spite of being utterly inexperienced on the trumpet. For me, it was a means to an end—constant improvement. It payed off on two different levels, most of the time people said yes and my playing got better.)

A week before the trip, Kiku not only arranged a lesson, but I was able to confirm the time and place with the man himself.

I’d initially thought the location would be the Manhattan School, which was exciting enough to obsess about. However, when I heard that Mel’s teaching studio was at the Metropolitan Opera, well, I got really nervous.

Read on: part two

in spite of being utterly inexperienced on the trumpet,

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