If I knew fifty years ago what I know now, I would have urged my husband, Derrill, to keep his college trombone and find a group to play with. But the expediencies of food and shelter and a growing family create different priorities when you're young.
We always had music in our home, though. Derrill's college trombone was sold to buy a marimba, and that was sold to buy a string bass that we toted with us through several moves. We found a friend who played guitar, and for a couple of decades we spent many family evenings singing folk songs.
|Derrill playing in the Peach Days Concert|
I know Derrill would like to have been able to play jazz trombone. He has a great ear and a real appreciation for the art form. After he got the Bach trombone he took lessons and spent lots of time woodshedding out in his shop.
He played this horn in the Skagit Concert Band in Mt. Vernon, Washington and for a short time in the Symphony of the Canyons here in Kanab, Utah. But he was frustrated with his inability to pick up where he had left off over fifty years ago.
There was the timing problem, too. As we push on through the middle seventies, we realize we haven't time to learn things that are going to take years of dedication. Life becomes a matter of choices.
In light of that fact, Derrill figured he didn't have time left on this earth to learn to do the Bach horn justice, so he decided to sell it. He is not trombone-less, as he has another horn that is easier for him to play. Still, advertising the Bach Stradivarius was hard for him to do.
Mike Hettwer, a man in Oregon, bought the horn for his son, Matt, who was studying for his master's degree at California State University at Long Beach. Derrill boxed it up and sent it off, and months later got an email from Mike:
|Matt Hettwer, left, winner of competition.|
What a pleasing message. Thank you. We send our congratulations to your son. It was a great horn to own, but far better that it be in the hands of such a talented musician.
Mike's wife Kami wrote back, saying:
Matt's prize is an Edwards trombone, but he says he will continue to use the Bach exclusively.
sent a link to a newspaper article about Matt's win.
So there you have it. Not only is the Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone competition a very big deal, but you can see from the newspaper article that Matt Hettwer is a dedicated jazz trombonist.
So what is the tender mercy? It's a little hard to explain, but here you have a man, a septuagenarian, who now has the time to practice that he didn't have as a young father trying to provide for his family. He's able to buy a nice horn, but in the meantime his body has betrayed him.Seeing the music is harder and remembering the quick passages is trickier, and his arm doesn't work like it used to.
So when he finally realizes that's one dream that's not going to be realized, he sells his nice trombone. He packs it up and sends it off and figures that's the end of it.
But it's not. He finds out that this horn that he spent hours and hours practicing on is now in the hands of a dedicated musician, one who loves jazz and is mastering the craft. One who's won a prestigious award. With Derrill's Bach trombone.
So, though Derrill hasn't yet gained facility as a jazz trombonist (I still hear him out in the shop playing along with Louis Armstrong CDs), his favorite horn is playing lots of jazz. There's a lot to smile about, there.