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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Anklan


My house is situated at the edge of an enormous jungle. One day I was sitting on my porch, drinking a cup of coffee, and two men approached me and said “we would like to pass through the jungle.” I said, “Okay,” gave them a machete and a compass, and said, “Go east.” The two men looked at each other and shrugged. They walked to the edge of the jungle, check their compass, and started heading east.

The jungle proved to be very dense, and the more the men traveled into the jungle the worse it became. They had to use the machete to move an inch at a time, but always kept the compass pointed east. It was hot, and I mean HOT. The ground was muddy; mud so think that every step became a struggle. And the bugs - the men were almost getting eaten alive!

After several hours the men came across a small clearing in the jungle. They decided to stop and rest. One of the men noticed a telephone in the clearing. They raced toward it, only to discover that the telephone had no dial. So, they picked up the receiver, and it began to ring. Who did it call? Me, of course!

I answer the phone, and asked “how are you doing?” The man replied, “this is very difficult! It’s very hot, the ground is a muddy mess, and there are bugs everywhere! Bugs like we’ve never seen before!” I asked the man, “How does the mud feel?” He said, “It’s really think, but it’s cool.” And I replied, “Are there bugs in the mud?” To which the man replied, “No, no bugs at all.”

I instructed the men to put the mud on their skin so that it would cool them off, and repel the bugs. The men looked at each other, shrugged, and put the mud on their skin.

After a few more moments of resting, the men began their journey once again. This time, with a renewed sense of energy, feeling much cooler and with the bugs repelled, they were able to make much faster progress through the jungle.

After a few more hours of making their way through the dense jungle, the men came to another clearing. This time it was a tall, grassy field. The tall, grassy field was completely different than the jungle. There was no overhead covering, and the hot sun beat down on them. The mud began to dry and crack, and the machete didn’t seem to do any good against the blades of grass. In the field, the man came across another phone. They picked up the receiver, and once again it called me.

I asked the men, “how are you doing?” They said, “The mud made our journey much easier, we were cooled off and the bugs didn’t bother us anymore. But now we’re in this field, and things are totally different.” They explained their current situation a little further and said, “What do we do now?”

Me: “The sun is beating down on you?”

The Men: “Yes, it’s really unbearable.”

Me: “Remove your shirt, and wrap it around your head to protect you from the sun...”

This story can go on, and on for quite a long time, but I’m going to stop here. Taking trumpet lessons with a professional player is like passing through the jungle. The teacher gives the student a little bit of information, and they spend some time in the jungle. Spending time in the jungle allows the student to discover the path for themselves, and to seek answers that they need for a successful journey. When the going gets tough, the teacher is there to offer the next bit of advice. The student cannot, and will not ever learn unless they embark on the journey themselves. No one can ever “teach” a person to play the trumpet, they can only guide the student to the answers, which are then discovered along the path.

This is taking lessons. Now, go spend some time in the jungle!

(This story is not my own, however I feel it best portrays the journey a student of the trumpet must make each and every day to become a better trumpet player.)

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