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My Trumpet Students #42, #54, and “The Backyard Trio” in South Wedgwood Neighborhood of Seattle

Posted by glennled on July 19, 2020

The Backyard Trio plays “Bourbon Street” by Nick Homes
(L to R: Student No. 54, Glenn Ledbetter, and No. 42)

Last March, Covid-19 restrictions forced me to stop teaching trumpet lessons in my students’ homes, something I’ve been doing since 2009. We switched to online lessons. I now have six students doing this. But on 6 May, as the restrictions eased, I returned to the home of one student at the request of his parents. The mother is a nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center (where my oldest son was born). We held the lesson in their back yard and practiced social distancing! And that led to the later creation of “The Backyard Trio.” Let me explain.

R: Student No. 42

I’ve been teaching their son for the past two years (please use the Archives column on the left to find my blog post about him on 18 May 2018). He was my 42nd trumpet student, and his first goal was to make Jazz Band at Eckstein Middle School in the South Wedgwood neighborhood in Seattle. He made it! Not only that, but, as a 6th grader, he played a solo at the “Jazz Night” concert at Eckstein last year under the direction of Mr. Cuauhtémoc Escobedo (“Mr. E” or “Moc”). Please see my blog post, with photos, of 20 December 2019.

L: Student No. 54

Also playing trumpet at that concert and also pictured in that blog post was one of his best friends, who has recently become my 54th trumpet student. Our online private lessons commenced on 1 July. No. 54 says that when he first had a choice of instruments, he didn’t like the sound of the violin; the clarinet and saxophone required too much air; but the trumpet had a “cool sound and only 3 buttons.” He loves sports, including downhill skiing and mountain biking (two favorites), basketball (wing), baseball, swimming, water polo, and ultimate frisbee. Both he and No. 42 do water polo and ultimate frisbee. Both are multi-talented, and on trumpet, both have natural ability and pick up new things quickly. Next fall, they will be 7th graders, playing in two different jazz bands at Eckstein. They’re preparing for it this summer.

You see, the parents of both boys set this up. The mother of No. 54 found some duets for the boys to play. We all ordered “Jazz Duets (Easy)” for trumpets by Nick Homes online at http://www.jazzduets.com. The e-book contains 8 duets. Then, on Wednesday afternoons, we held a 45-minute Zoom meeting (https://zoom.us), with each of us in our separate homes. But as you know, there is a latency problem when teaching music online. Because of communications delays, you can’t play together simultaneously. So, each person, including me, has to play independently. We were playing duet parts separately and alternately. The lessons were very good but never “whole.”

The Backyard Trio (L to R: Student No. 54, Glenn Ledbetter, and Student No. 42

Then the mother of No. 42 suggested that all three of us meet in their backyard when the weather was nice. We would bring our own music stands, sit far enough apart in our straight-backed chairs, play our duets, and I would teach trumpet jazz. On 6 May, we did it for the first time, and on 15 July, we did it again. That’s how “The Backyard Trio” was born.

Now, we’d like to continue doing it (Covid-19, weather, and schedules permitting) through the remainder of the summer. Meanwhile, I also teach each boy a 30-minute online private lesson every week. We’re starting to move on to other songs now. Last session, I gave them the trumpet sheet music for “Bernie’s Tune” by Bernie Miller and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman. Let’s roll, boys. We’re “The Backyard Trio!”

Video and photos by Mom of No. 42.

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