1997 – 2001
It was only after I met and heard Maynard Ferguson that I realized what a trumpet could sound like. I was hooked to “God’s own” instrument.
We always looked forward to his visits to Puttaparthy. Each visit would bring with it loads of fun, music, new experiences and lessons for all of us.
It was my first year in the band and Maynard suggested we play "Gonna Fly Now" his Grammy nominated piece. We were all struggling to play that piece as the beat was not familiar. Too many off beats left many of us in total confusion. At this point Maynard stepped in and played the piece slowly for each and every instrument, just to give us an idea of how the piece sounded. This showed how much patience and interest he had in our learning to play.
Practice for the day was over and I was hoping to get a few personal tips (who wouldn't want to?) from Maynard. DJ initiated the conversation and he asked me to play scales. I did hit the double C and felt happy. But Maynard was outright in telling me that I sounded like a kindergarten girl. His first advice to me was to blow the trumpet with a lot of energy but not blare at the same time. He even demonstrated that. Then I remember he turned to DJ and told him, "This guy has got range, use him for high ranged pieces". That was an inspiration. I practiced on my sound quality. Next year when he visited, we played "Semper Fidelis". Looking at me he commented, "Now you sound more open and bold, keep the quality". I had no clue when he had noticed but his feedback made all the difference.
Those moments with Maynard are unforgettable. For a man with so much of passion for the trumpet, his versatility with other instruments only taught us how much commitment and love he had for music. He had the enthusiasm of a child. For someone so well known and famous, Maynard was humble, devoted and made everyone feel important.
Today my passion for the trumpet is due to Maynard. I loved to hear him play on the Fugel Horn. It sounded so romantic!