I'm 2,823 miles away from my studio in Pasadena, and my trumpet is safely packed on the LA Phil Transport Truck. Even if I had regular access to my instrument, playing Mahler excerpts in a hotel room is not a great way to make friends with the neighbors. Nevertheless, tonight I will be expected to sit on the stage of Avery Fisher Hall in New York City and perform some of the most difficult music in the orchestral repertoire.
Staying in shape while on tour is difficult, so the trumpet section of the LA Phil has embraced a creative solution—pocket trumpets. Not to be confused with a piccolo trumpet, these instruments are the same length as a standard B-flat trumpet, but the metal tubing is coiled more tightly around itself to create a smaller footprint. When used with a quiet practice mute, the result is an easily packable way to practice on the road that won’t get the orchestra thrown out of the hotel. I've had practice sessions during delays at the airport, right in the middle of the terminal. Not to sound like an infomercial, but it even comes with a convenient travel case.
The downside of the pocket trumpet is its unusual appearance. Walking around on tour with the small case on my shoulder, colleagues regularly mention its “cuteness.” So embarrassing.
Incidentally, our NY hotel is less than an hour away from my original practice room on Long Island where my father gave me my first trumpet lessons many years ago. (I bet my parents wished I had a quiet way to practice back then!)
Okay—it’s time to get to the hall and show how all those hours of hard work paid off. Enjoy the concert!