Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Cor. 14:8) I have apparently left a lot of people unprepared for the battle. At least I have blasted a lot of uncertain sounds out the bell of my horn.

In the fifth and sixth grades they asked for a bugler to play the colors up and down in the morning and afternoon. Afternoon I could handle. My lip was a little alive by afternoon. But mostly “Taps” is a pretty simple bugle call. But “Reveille” is murder on a cold morning with the remains of your breakfast egg still hanging around your mouth.

I butchered some fairly serious flag raising and lowering ceremonies in the Boy Scouts. By the time you sit through a court of honor or a campfire, your lip is asleep.

I also scared the race horses fairly well at the Payson Onion Days festivities. Our top trumpet player in the Payson City Band was invited to sit on the stand with the race officials and call the horses to the post. It involved triple tonguing on a high G. The whole trumpet section must have been sick one day. For some reason I was assigned to the job. I spooked the horses for a race or two before they replaced me with a guy playing a kazoo if I remember right.

My friend Dick Davis (He went by Richard then) and I began playing trumpet duets in junior high school. We got invited to various banquets, church and civic activities in Payson and a bit beyond. We also played in the junior high, and senior high school bands and the summer community band. I had, they tell me, a pleasing trumpet tone. I also felt I had a bit of soul for the music. I enjoyed blowing on the trumpet, still do. The thing I did not have was technique on the keys. Technique came from practice and as my mother often and my father sometimes reminded me, I did not do a lot of practice.

“If you don’t practice, you will never improve,” my mother would intone. I felt some guilt pangs at this, because my parents had stretched the budget to buy me a better cornet and my brother Gordon a new trombone. They had even paid for private lessons for us. My teacher J.D. Christensen preached the same musical law of the harvest to me. But with him I felt no guilt. Whatever debt I owed the musical world for not practicing I paid in discomfort by facing Mr. Christensen week after week at my private lesson. He was a fine trumpet player himself. He also lead the high school and the city band. But he was not an inspiring teacher. I still question his motives. He said once; I’m sure he never remembered it even as I am sure I never forgot it– “My job is to separate the serious musicians from those who just want to fiddle around with an instrument.” He classified me as a fiddler. He was probably right.

The fates call in the cards on us periodically in our lives. The gods of practice will not be ignored forever. And thus it was. Dick and I got the chance to go to Brigham Young University to a summer music clinic. For a junior high school second chair cornet fiddler this was a stunning eye opener. In our band only Farrel Huff on trombone and Kay Mendenhall on clarinet really knew how to play their instruments. We had others like Dick who could get the notes out. Then we had a whole cacophonous, squawking, squeaking embarrassment of other tootlers who made Mr. Christensen flinch every time he brought down his baton for us to begin.

Now I found myself temporarily in a band where there were more musicians than idle hobbyists. Down where I ended up in the third chair section of the trumpet/cornet players it wasn’t all that intimidating. They were all at least as skilled as I, but not that much more. But slightly to the left of us began the people who practiced. The kindest of them felt some pity for us down in the lower ranks. The arrogant sneered down their spit valves at the sounds we were making. I couldn’t blame them. It was not just that we were an insult to the instruments we held. We also made the whole trumpet section worse for our being there. Nevertheless we had paid for the clinic and they could not throw us out.

It was scary, but it was also musically invigorating. I had never played in a band of this quality. Better yet, there were beautiful and talented young women sprinkled through the group. One of them named Cheney was as beautiful as she was accomplished. Years later I would take an honors English class at BYU from her father Thomas Cheney. He was also an authority on Mormon folk songs from whom we gathered good material for our singing group The Three D’s. He liked what I wrote and I loved him as a teacher. Our singing group and he almost participated together on an album for Columbia Records. He was the content expert and we were some of the performers. It would have been a break for us, but it never happened

Professor Cheney’s daughter in the band played beautiful French horn. Somehow she had lost part of her index finger and had a clear plastic extension on that valve. This only added to her singular beauty. She was a bit like Mary in the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary; who was exotic, quiet and haunting with a mysterious scar on one leg. There were other beautiful and bright spirits in that band. I was almost getting my courage up enough to try my engaging smile and masculine charms and see if I couldn’t meet some of these attractive creatures.

But all these dreams exploded the day we were rehearsing some piece about an English bobby as I recall. I’m sure it is something famous, but I had never heard it. There was a tricky spot for the trumpet section. We went through it several times without improvement. Finally the conductor, a noted band master from Colorado, stopped everything. He fixed the trumpet section with a steely Marine sergeant stare and said, “Line these people up against the wall and bring in the firing squad. Shoot every player who hits a wrong note. And the third chair section; stand them up, bring out the machine gun and just mow them all down.”

His words were something different, but that was his message. At least that is the message I received. He started with the first chairs. One by one he had them deliver this passage from Hades. It was filled with sharps, flats, other musical odds and ends I was barely acquainted with. The first chair trumpet whipped through every note with a casual off handed arrogance that made the conductor smile and the beautiful young women in the band swoon. The rest of the first chairs did the same with not quite the finesse but ample technique. The top of the second chairs where Dick was, handled the passage competently. That made it pretty obvious who the misfiring pistons in this musical engine were. The third chair trumpets. Any doubt was dispelled as individually we butchered the passage. Closer and closer to me they worked down. The conductor red faced, the beautiful girls giggling, the third chairs with sweat running into our shoes. The moment came. He pointed his one-oh-five howitzer cannon of a baton at me and prepared to pull the trigger. My musical life passed in panic before me. All the hours I could have practiced and didn’t. The birds of procrastination had come home to roost and probably poop on my head.

I raised the instrument of my execution to my lips, took one last breath in this mortal life and began to blow.

Deep within the bowels and tubular intestines of my cornet little notes, fast notes, sixteenths and thirty seconds, sharps, flats, double flats, accidentals, graces, trills, had been patiently waiting for me to blow them out. An angel of mercy lined them up in proper order and sent them flying through the valves and out the bell of my cornet. My fingers flew in combinations they never had nor have since. Gabriel could not have blown that horn better.

I (or whoever was playing my cornet) finished. Stunned silence tingled in the room. I was shocked. The conductor dumfounded. He mumbled something about doing tryouts again. I humbly (and fearfully) told him I was happy to stay and help wherever I was placed.

I have never forgotten that brief moment of grace. It has been part of my life philosophy since that day. I know the law of the harvest is true and irrevocable. But sometimes heavenly helpers lend us a hand even when we don’t deserve it.

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: (but don’t push your luck) Audacious audition

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Cor. 14:8) I have apparently left a lot of people unprepared for the battle. At least I have blasted a lot of uncertain sounds out the bell of my horn.

In the fifth and sixth grades they asked for a bugler to play the colors up and down in the morning and afternoon. Afternoon I could handle. My lip was a little alive by afternoon. But mostly “Taps” is a pretty simple bugle call. But “Reveille” is murder on a cold morning with the remains of your breakfast egg still hanging around your mouth.

I butchered some fairly serious flag raising and lowering ceremonies in the Boy Scouts. By the time you sit through a court of honor or a campfire, your lip is asleep.

I also scared the race horses fairly well at the Payson Onion Days festivities. Our top trumpet player in the Payson City Band was invited to sit on the stand with the race officials and call the horses to the post. It involved triple tonguing on a high G. The whole trumpet section must have been sick one day. For some reason I was assigned to the job. I spooked the horses for a race or two before they replaced me with a guy playing a kazoo if I remember right.

My friend Dick Davis (He went by Richard then) and I began playing trumpet duets in junior high school. We got invited to various banquets, church and civic activities in Payson and a bit beyond. We also played in the junior high, and senior high school bands and the summer community band. I had, they tell me, a pleasing trumpet tone. I also felt I had a bit of soul for the music. I enjoyed blowing on the trumpet, still do. The thing I did not have was technique on the keys. Technique came from practice and as my mother often and my father sometimes reminded me, I did not do a lot of practice.

“If you don’t practice, you will never improve,” my mother would intone. I felt some guilt pangs at this, because my parents had stretched the budget to buy me a better cornet and my brother Gordon a new trombone. They had even paid for private lessons for us. My teacher J.D. Christensen preached the same musical law of the harvest to me. But with him I felt no guilt. Whatever debt I owed the musical world for not practicing I paid in discomfort by facing Mr. Christensen week after week at my private lesson. He was a fine trumpet player himself. He also lead the high school and the city band. But he was not an inspiring teacher. I still question his motives. He said once; I’m sure he never remembered it even as I am sure I never forgot it– “My job is to separate the serious musicians from those who just want to fiddle around with an instrument.” He classified me as a fiddler. He was probably right.

The fates call in the cards on us periodically in our lives. The gods of practice will not be ignored forever. And thus it was. Dick and I got the chance to go to Brigham Young University to a summer music clinic. For a junior high school second chair cornet fiddler this was a stunning eye opener. In our band only Farrel Huff on trombone and Kay Mendenhall on clarinet really knew how to play their instruments. We had others like Dick who could get the notes out. Then we had a whole cacophonous, squawking, squeaking embarrassment of other tootlers who made Mr. Christensen flinch every time he brought down his baton for us to begin.

Now I found myself temporarily in a band where there were more musicians than idle hobbyists. Down where I ended up in the third chair section of the trumpet/cornet players it wasn’t all that intimidating. They were all at least as skilled as I, but not that much more. But slightly to the left of us began the people who practiced. The kindest of them felt some pity for us down in the lower ranks. The arrogant sneered down their spit valves at the sounds we were making. I couldn’t blame them. It was not just that we were an insult to the instruments we held. We also made the whole trumpet section worse for our being there. Nevertheless we had paid for the clinic and they could not throw us out.

It was scary, but it was also musically invigorating. I had never played in a band of this quality. Better yet, there were beautiful and talented young women sprinkled through the group. One of them named Cheney was as beautiful as she was accomplished. Years later I would take an honors English class at BYU from her father Thomas Cheney. He was also an authority on Mormon folk songs from whom we gathered good material for our singing group The Three D’s. He liked what I wrote and I loved him as a teacher. Our singing group and he almost participated together on an album for Columbia Records. He was the content expert and we were some of the performers. It would have been a break for us, but it never happened

Professor Cheney’s daughter in the band played beautiful French horn. Somehow she had lost part of her index finger and had a clear plastic extension on that valve. This only added to her singular beauty. She was a bit like Mary in the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary; who was exotic, quiet and haunting with a mysterious scar on one leg. There were other beautiful and bright spirits in that band. I was almost getting my courage up enough to try my engaging smile and masculine charms and see if I couldn’t meet some of these attractive creatures.

But all these dreams exploded the day we were rehearsing some piece about an English bobby as I recall. I’m sure it is something famous, but I had never heard it. There was a tricky spot for the trumpet section. We went through it several times without improvement. Finally the conductor, a noted band master from Colorado, stopped everything. He fixed the trumpet section with a steely Marine sergeant stare and said, “Line these people up against the wall and bring in the firing squad. Shoot every player who hits a wrong note. And the third chair section; stand them up, bring out the machine gun and just mow them all down.”

His words were something different, but that was his message. At least that is the message I received. He started with the first chairs. One by one he had them deliver this passage from Hades. It was filled with sharps, flats, other musical odds and ends I was barely acquainted with. The first chair trumpet whipped through every note with a casual off handed arrogance that made the conductor smile and the beautiful young women in the band swoon. The rest of the first chairs did the same with not quite the finesse but ample technique. The top of the second chairs where Dick was, handled the passage competently. That made it pretty obvious who the misfiring pistons in this musical engine were. The third chair trumpets. Any doubt was dispelled as individually we butchered the passage. Closer and closer to me they worked down. The conductor red faced, the beautiful girls giggling, the third chairs with sweat running into our shoes. The moment came. He pointed his one-oh-five howitzer cannon of a baton at me and prepared to pull the trigger. My musical life passed in panic before me. All the hours I could have practiced and didn’t. The birds of procrastination had come home to roost and probably poop on my head.

I raised the instrument of my execution to my lips, took one last breath in this mortal life and began to blow.

Deep within the bowels and tubular intestines of my cornet little notes, fast notes, sixteenths and thirty seconds, sharps, flats, double flats, accidentals, graces, trills, had been patiently waiting for me to blow them out. An angel of mercy lined them up in proper order and sent them flying through the valves and out the bell of my cornet. My fingers flew in combinations they never had nor have since. Gabriel could not have blown that horn better.

I (or whoever was playing my cornet) finished. Stunned silence tingled in the room. I was shocked. The conductor dumfounded. He mumbled something about doing tryouts again. I humbly (and fearfully) told him I was happy to stay and help wherever I was placed.

I have never forgotten that brief moment of grace. It has been part of my life philosophy since that day. I know the law of the harvest is true and irrevocable. But sometimes heavenly helpers lend us a hand even when we don’t deserve it.

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: (but don’t push your luck) Audacious audition

Comments are closed.