Trombone Cracker

His trombone was new, only three months old, when the crack happened. It was a beautiful professional horn that he had spent months finding, testing various horns, until this one suddenly revealed itself to him, a sound so pure and beautifully sonorous that he couldn’t not buy it. It was more than he wanted to spend, but it was worth every penny. Playing it was a dream; high notes sang out, low notes belted through the orchestra, and it all came with the greatest of ease.

But the first concert of the season, the first time he was able to really show it off, it developed a tiny crack. Whether it was the intensity of the music, or a lapse of attention leading to it hitting a stand, he wasn’t sure, but as he played, he saw a tiny split in the bell. A hairline fracture, no larger than his cuticle, but it was there, and he saw daylight on the other side.

After the concert, he took it in to his tech, who looked at it, and said there was nothing he could do. It wasn’t repairable, but it wouldn’t grow any larger either. Two weeks later, it had grown to two cuticle lengths, and after two months it was the length of his fingernail. He spoke with a company representative, who claimed it appeared to be his own negligence that caused it, and they wouldn’t repair it. He was out of options, as no one would help him, and it kept getting worse. He took out his old horn, and played it in rehearsal for a few weeks; he took out his new horn again for a concert, and noticed that the crack was no worse, though after the concert it was just a little bit bigger.

He knows now; he can’t play his best horn except on concert night, and for auditions. He limits its use even then, as much as possible, and yet, the crack is nearly as long as his forearm, and though the horn still sounds as beautiful as the first time he played it, it’s getting harder to keep in tune. He is looking for a new instrument, but every time he tries one, a minor blemish appears on the bell.

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