As the old saying goes, “the cream always rises to the top” always inspired me to listen well to the timely advice of so many of my former life mentors. But when I think back to someone who best exemplifies an ideal role model for making me believe in this ideal, allow me to tell you a brief story about Mr. Tulu, an accomplished Italian trombonist and former private lesson teacher who challenged me to play this slide instrument in high school better than anyone else.
So on this particular occasion, mother sat proudly in an adjoining room as I set up my sheet music in Mr.Tulu’s living room and warmed up my horn for my weekly lesson that day. Working with him then on some difficult pieces I’d prepared for that week, I felt totally confident that I played the pieces right. But Mr. Tulu soon ranted otherwise and then gestured violently as I feared he might tear up my sheet music or perhaps hit me with his baton.
So as his dissatisfaction with my playing quickly sunk in, he demanded we play each piece together over and over with the idea of raising my performance expectations at the same time. So as I played the pieces with such vehemently put instructions multiple times, sheer exhaustion and some anger set in from this effort. But by such arousal of my emotions, I finally began to get it. I must express the music more passionately when I am playing to resonate a much fuller sound. Unfortunately I would also notice that my impulsive trombone teacher failed to channel his emotions appropriately at the end of this lesson as he tried to woo my mother into some nonmusical bliss with glasses of Chianti and sweet amorous talk of them being together as more than friends.
Yet in spite of Mr. Tulu’s fiery style of teaching and his seductive “come-ons” to my mother, his presence in my life had proved immensely beneficial to me in future concert band competitions. For as a result of his approach to raise my playing expectations to make my instrument “sing” with intensity of emotion, I caught the interest of band contest judges whenever I was chosen to perform. Thus, during those those high school junior and senior years of my former musical stardom, I eventually earned #3 ranking as an All Star trombonist throughout the state of Florida.