Confessions of a Trumpet Player’s Wife

Some say the drum corps experience lives through us all. But for some people, it lives through those around us.

You’ve seen them, I’m sure. They’re the guys walking around music festivals and band competitions “buzzing” into their mouthpieces. They’re die-hard musicians; guys (and gals) who’d much prefer to play their brass instrument over, say, breathing or eating. They’re called drum corps alumni, and I happen to be married to one.

It’s OK – I already have a hanky. Thanks anyway. I speak from first-hand experience. Not only does my husband bleed valve oil, but he absorbed the life-changing experience of his marching years with The Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps from the top of his shako clear down to his spats. I wouldn’t say his passion or his talent defines who he is as an individual but to remove his ability to express himself via the trumpet would be like asking a dalmatian to remove his spots.

And now, 20 years into our marriage, I’ve surrendered my newly-remodeled dining room to his need for a music studio. However, the lack of sound-proofing allows for his screeching high notes to resonate through the house well after the song book is put away. Even the dogs recognize the familiar click-click when he pops the latch on his gig bag; their ears perk up as his fingers flutter a quick test of the valves. He licks his lips, assumes his marching stance and blasts a “booo-weeeee” in three octaves that can be heard six blocks away!

His impromptu drill takes him through the kitchen and around the counter, shoulders back, trumpet parallel with the ground, straight into the living room. In military style, neither he nor his instrument ever miss a note. The dogs try to run for cover, but it’s no use – they can’t escape. Instead, they resort to howling their frustration as I go around closing windows and doors. The china cabinet rattles, light fixtures sway, and I find myself bracing for the sound of shattering glass.

Summertime is the worst, or the best, depending on how you look at it. It’s the official season where thousands of people, just like my husband, put their lives on hold for several weeks. They flock to stadiums and marching fields as the most awesome of corps is determined. I hear a lot of, “Come on, baby – it’s drum corps,” as he justifies time and money spent on tickets, trinkets and Saturday shows.

I know that my husband’s great love for music in the form of all things brass has had impact on our children over the years. And someday, when their hearing is fully restored, they’ll look back and tell their children about how their father serenaded them with early morning Reveille from the bottom of the stairs. And when my son is marching on the field with his own trumpet, he’ll understand how that passion began.

About the Author

Debbie Dillon is a resident of Camarillo, Calif., and enjoys living the performing arts world vicariously through her husband and son.

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