Since I was in the sixth grade in elementary school (in Waltham, Massachusetts), I have played the trombone. My attachment to the trombone started out quite accidentally. My initial choice of instrument was clarinet. I signed up for the school music instruction program and went to the assigned location to pick up my school-owned loaner instrument. The band Director, a wonderful man by the name of Raymond A. Crawford (he later became a valued mentor to me), announced to all of us still waiting for our clarinets that the school had run out of clarinets, with a new shipment expected in about six weeks. He then announced that there were plenty of trombones available, and that all who wanted to switch to trombone should move over to the trombone line. And that's how I came to select the trombone as my instrument of choice--I was not about to wait several weeks for a clarinet. When I showed at home with a trombone, my mother was shocked but, as she has been throughout her long career as a mother, totally accepting and supportive of my hasty decision. Besides, I was never really sure why I wanted to play clarinet in the first place.
I recall living dangerously with that trombone. I used to strap the horn (in its case, of course) across the handlebars of my old bicycle which I used to transport myself to band rehearsals and group lessons (with Archie Smith) at North Junior High School in Waltham, about 1.5 miles from home. I was an accident waiting to happen with the trombone protruding to both sides of the bike as I rode along the busy streets of downtown Waltham. The accident I feared most--a driver opening his door into my path--happened only once and I (and the trombone) survived with only minor bumps and scrapes. I could never imagine letting my children or grandchildren ride so recklessly today. Compared to today, the late 40s and early 50s were times of innocence.
Over the years, I've always found time to "keep my chops up" by playing in various civic music groups. I am what the International Trombone Association refers to as a "Weekend Warrior"--one who has a good "day job" and who plays the horn for pleasure and not for a living (as a professional). As a retiree, I no longer have a "day job" but I still consider myself a "Weekend Warrior."
My current and recent playing opportunities include the following groups:
The Loudoun Symphony--as principal trombone
The Difficult Run Jazz Band--a big band originally founded and nurtured by Gordon Ramsey, and now directed by Jerry O'Sullivan [no longer an active member]
The McLean Brass Quintet--a self-directed group composed initially of members from the brass section of the McLean (VA) Symphony; the group is no longer affiliated with the McLean Symphony or any other musical organization.