Last fall, around the same time I started writing for the Kane County Chronicle, I was asked to join my church brass ensemble – Bethlehem Brass. My lesson teacher, who occasionally plays with the group, put my name forward because they needed another trumpet player.
I had heard the group countless times at church, but I never imagined that I would ever get the chance to play with it. They always sounded amazing, and way above my caliber. When my lesson teacher told me the news, l was flattered and very excited.
Bethlehem Brass has been around for more than 30 years, and a few of the original players still are in the group.
There are quite a few long-running traditions, including practicing Saturday mornings and eating breakfast at Colonial between services. It’s cool to be a part of such a great legacy.
We range in age from 17 (me) to older than 80. Most of the people in the group are retired band directors from the area, but there also are people who have careers outside of music. Everyone in the group, no matter their job, is well-connected with other musicians in our community.
All of the members have been very welcoming toward me. It’s been great to learn how they approach the music. We only practice for an hour once a week, so we play through each song a few times before we perform. It’s helped me learn music faster, since I only have a few weeks – not a few months like I’m used to. I’ve noticed it’s carried over to my sight reading skills back in school.
In school, I love playing my trumpet, but it’s also a lot of work. Bethlehem Brass is a lot more laid back, which is a nice change of pace. Whenever we play in church, the congregation is grateful for what we add to the service. I’m honored to be involved in the large – and ever-growing – music program at my church. There are many other kids my age, including kids I play with at school, who also are involved in music through Bethlehem.
I’ve been playing a lot in church lately, and it’s been rewarding every time. I’ve gotten to play on Palm Sunday, on Easter and with the children’s choir. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to play on different instruments like a C trumpet, which is a different key from the normal B flat, for the first time. I’ve had the opportunity to play in so many different contexts.
Playing in Bethlehem Brass has reminded me why I started playing the trumpet in the first place. It’s great to help make an impact in a whole new way. I know I’ll only be able to play in the group for a few months longer, but I hope I can find another group like it to play with in the future.
• Brigid Ackerman is a senior at St. Charles East High School. She enjoys playing the trumpet, eating bread and writing this column, which runs every other Thursday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.