It Could Only Happen To A Musician- Where’s my mouthpiece?

You would think that an adult would learn from his mistakes but as you will see, some don’t. The first time I forgot my mouthpiece was in Iowa at a very nice country club. Fortunately, one of the other trumpet players was able to loan me an extra from his case. The second time I failed to bring a mouthpiece happened here in Branson while playing a Bobby Vinton show and that is today’s story.

Usually I have a couple mouthpieces in my trumpet case for just this situation but that day the mouthpiece holder was empty. When I removed my horn to start warming up in the green room, fear gripped my soul as I realized that I had left my mouthpiece at home. I tried calling my wife to ask her to bring one to the theater but the line was busy. I turned to the trumpet player next to me and asked, “Do you have an extra mouthpiece?” to which he responded, “No, I usually have several but not today”. I dialed my home again and still the line was busy. Show time was now twenty minutes away. Another trumpet player came into the room and I asked him the same question, “Do you have an extra mouthpiece”?, to which he responded, “No, I usually have several but not today”. Back to the busy signal on my phone. Show time was now fifteen minutes away. The last trumpet player arrived to the same question, “Do you have an extra mouthpiece?”, to which he responded, “No, I usually have several but not today”. Show time was now five minutes away and no more trumpet players and not enough time to get a mouthpiece from home. I was frantic.

As I stood there with my empty horn in my hand, an idea popped into my head. Mr. Vinton plays trumpet during his show and if I were close enough to his horn, I might be able to snatch the mouthpiece, replace it when it was his turn to play and get it back in time to finish the show. As the band started to mount the stage, I explained the dilemma to Mr. Vinton and being the showman he is, he laughed and agreed to make the switch. I told one of his daughters who was in the show to make sure that she placed Mr. Vinton’s horn close enough to me to make it work.

The curtain went up and Bobby’s trumpet was just below my riser, close enough to reach. Bobby’s mouthpiece was in my horn and the overture began. Moments before Mr. Vinton was handed his trumpet to play, I put his mouthpiece back in his horn and began to move my valves with a three inch gap between my chops and my trumpet. When Bobby replaced his trumpet in its stand, I detected a slight smile and wink as I quickly snatched his mouthpiece and placed it in my horn to finish the show. No one in the audience had any clue what had just happened, but to this day, every time I get in my car to go to a gig, I open my case to make sure I have at least one mouthpiece, sometimes two, three or four.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

2 thoughts on “It Could Only Happen To A Musician- Where’s my mouthpiece?

  1. Mike Short

    Pity the poor tubist – back in the day, we had cases, and if you put a mouthpiece in the case, it would roll around inside and dent the tuba everywhere. You HAD to carry the mouthpiece separately. My first year at UNI, I went on Wind Ensemble tour, rooming with our other tubist, Lyle Williamson. At one of the concerts, I discovered when I tried to warm up that I had left my mouthpiece at our host’s home. We had time enough, but they had to take me back to their home and then back to the concert. Everybody shook their head, and said “New kid!” The next night, different town. Lyle, who was Mr. Organized, forgot HIS mouthpiece at this host’s home, same thing – trip back to the home, back to the school for the concert. We worried that forgetfulness was catching. Now with horn bags, we have a place for mouthpieces, and I always have TWO in the bag.

    Because I’m a tubist, I had another problem – I picked up my trombone case, and didn’t think anything of the fact that it was light. Compared to a tuba, almost anything is! Got to the job, opened up the case – no trombone! Luckily, the gig was close to home.

    • Bruce Chidester

      Great story! I remember Lyle. When I think back to those days, I’m convinced that those were some of the best years, and the best players. We are very proud of all of our graduates and when I visit with fellow musicians around the country, I’m also proud to have worked at such a fine school…… Most of the time. Keep in touch and I remember some great Dixieland jobs with you.

Comments are closed.