It was my father’s recording of the Sibelius Second Symphony that really did it for me. When I heard the big brass fanfare at the end, I was hooked! That was it.
I started studying trumpet in the fourth grade. My first teacher, Mr. Burnham, gave me my first instrument. It was all shiny and new. He taught me the fundamentals of good musicianship, including basic skills like sight-reading and music theory. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, these were so helpful to me as I grew older.
I will admit that I didn’t love practicing all the time, but I learned to enjoy the challenges that it gave me and eventually I understood that it really was important to play every single day, just the way that Mr. Burnham taught me.
For example, every trumpet player wants to play high, but you can’t start out that way. First, you need to play with a nice sound in the middle register and play with ease. It takes patience, discipline and hard work every day to improve. Little by little, you will move into the upper register. As long as you stay focused, eventually you will learn to play whatever music you want to play.
As I grew older and improved bit by bit, my father encouraged me to explore all the opportunities that were available to me, including jazz band, youth orchestra, music festivals, and of course, private lessons. Each of these presented new challenges and helped me grow as a musician. Each little success helped me adjust my goals higher and continue to learn more. And along the way, I made lots of friends and enjoyed so much wonderful music!
I first heard the Chicago Symphony Orchestra live while I was a college student at Michigan State. I had heard recordings of the orchestra before, but hearing them in person was completely different. I remember that they played Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. I could see the way the musicians worked as a team onstage. I was amazed by the balance and unity. I could hear how they matched each other and was blown away by that “Chicago Sound.” It had me on the edge of my seat! Seeing the musicians on stage made it feel more real and inspired me. I wanted to be part of that.
After many years of hard work, there are still challenges that I face. Even as a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, there are some times that I still get discouraged. But I’ve learned that the best way to face the things that challenge me is to be patient and persevere. There’s so much to learn about music, I’m so glad that I have an entire lifetime to do it!
Studying music makes so many other parts of your life enjoyable and successful. I know that if I had decided not to be a musician, all the lessons that music helped me learn would definitely carry over into my life on a daily basis. It is the same kind of process no matter what goals you might have.
Learning music takes practice and patience, but it’s a wonderful thing to have in your life and it’s worth it when you love it! I always love seeing where music will take me.
The piece that inspired Tage to play the trumpet was Sibelius’s Second Symphony. Listen to this recording on iTunes >
When he is not playing classical music, Tage also enjoys jazz, especially music by Duke Ellington. Listen to “Three Suites” on iTunes >
These pieces combine great works of classical music by Tchaikovsky and Grieg with Ellington’s swinging style and lots of incredible improvisation.