An 11-Year-Old Trumpeter Taught Me About Life
January 31, 2011
Arturo Sandoval was in town for a concert, and his producer stopped at Nordstrom for some grooming supplies. He was halfway down the block when he heard a familiar sound. Someone was playing "Moon River" on his trumpet.
He turned around, seeing an eleven-year-old boy playing on a used trumpt. He started walking away, but felt compelled to turn back around.
"My father in law wrote the score for that song," he told the young trumpeter.
"You're father-in-law is Henry Mancini?!" asked the excited boy.
"Yes, he is. By the way, I'm in town to see Arturo Sandoval. Have you ever heard of him?"
The child was overjoyed, and they talked for a few minutes about music.
Noticing that the boy played on a used trumpet, and the cheapest seats at the Sandoval concert were $40, the producer asked: "How would you like to see Arturo Sandoval play in concert?"
"Yes. The show starts at 8. Come 15 minutes beforehand, and we'll get you and your mom in."
When the boy and his mom arrived, the producer took him backstage to meet Sandoval. They were both so impressed that they had a surprise for the child, and for the audience.
Mid-way through the show, Arturo Sandoval invited the boy on stage. Most men will play their entire lives without ever sharing the sage with Sandoval. The boy played began, "Moon River."
Some will say that the kid was at the right place at the right time. That banal explanation misses the deeper truth. The child chose to be at the right place, at the right time.
He could have been playing video games. He could have been watching cartoons. He could have been goofing off on Facebook. He could have been doing a lot of things. But he wasn't. He was doing one thing - the only thing that mattered.
He was in public, perfecting his craft. He risked embarassment. What if he friends saw him in front of Nordstrom, and took him for a street urchin or band geek? What if he missed a tune, looking incompetent or foolish? What if he failed?
He may have failed already, and at at 11, his future will be full of failure. He will miss a note in front of large audiences. He will be denied gigs. He will feel incompetent when learning new material. He will doubt himself. He will cry out in desperation.
He will fail, and because he will fail, he will succeed.
The boy wasn't at the right place at the right time. He put himself there.
Somewhere an 11-year-old boy is asking: Where are you putting yourself?