I live in an apartment in an old, renovated mill building. It’s nice. Loft ceilings, a wee bit of heaven in a way. And while there may be neighbors in heaven, I’d guess none of them are learning to play the trumpet by practicing for one hour, right on the other side of your (my) bedroom wall. I have a new neighbor. Moved in, at this writing, maybe three months ago.
Now, before I go on, let me make it clear that the idea of filing any kind of official “noise” complaint is out of the question. Like me, the man lives alone. Like me, the man is a senior. The man is also actively learning something new in life. I find that truth to be beautiful and inspirational. In short, I admire the man.
How to adjust horn practice late afternoons early evenings was the task at hand, the experience that needed managing. And, thankfully, it’s here that our story’s evolution gets interesting, and ultimately for me, rewarding.
He begins his horn practice every day (except Sundays) by warming up. He starts with one – note – at – a – time. He goes from low to high and then back down again. Things get a bit wobbly for him when he gets into the higher notes, some nails-on-a-chalkboard sounds make me want to dive for cover.
After traveling up and down the scale a few times, he practices songs. Songs like “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” and “Hey Jude,” to name just two. Made me want to “shoot” raindrops out of the sky next time it rained. Even so, he gets much of the song right, but wobbly at moments. Like I said, he is learning. He doesn’t give up.
At first, when it was time for horn-practice next store, I tried blocking out or distracting myself from the noise in some way. Pillows on either side of my head. White noise machines. Music, audiobooks, anything.
And then, something changed. One day I noticed I was listening. It just happened. I listened to every note on the scales. When the note wobbled, I understood. I listened to the songs, and sometimes he’d play a note that touches that sweet tremor, and the musician shines.
Sometimes I listen, sometimes not, but always his trumpet practice is welcome, even in the background. It’s comforting and it sounds good.