Remembering a Teacher and a Friend

Copyright © 2012 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

In 1980, after playing trumpet for about 4 years, I started to get bored with the instrument.  My teacher, Miss Frisk, who taught band out of a cafeteria storage room, realized that she had reached the limit of what she could do with me.  I had just finished the last trumpet method book that the school had in its library.  She called my mom to let her know.  My mom called the high school band director to find out who were the better players and then called their moms to find out about who was teaching their sons or daughters.  She ended up hooking me up with Joe Loreti, who was a perfect match.

Mr. Loreti passed away on October 27th, 2012 and I will miss him and I will miss the gifts that he gave me over the years that I took lessons from him.

When I took my first lesson from him, he had me sit down and warm up (warm up?  what’s that?) and asked me to play whatever I had been working on.  I took out my band method book and played an excerpt from the Carnival of Venice which was really only the initial theme and some traditional variations.  After I was done, he took out a battered copy of Arban’s and flipped to the back and proceeded to play the first variation cold and with a beautiful round tone.  My jaw dropped and I left with a list of books to get: Arban’s, Clarke, Schlossberg.  Each book had a different goal.  I still have each one.

Steve 1979

Over the years, I learned to love playing duets with Mr. Loreti.  He matched intonation incredibly well and how he blended his tone to mine.  In the beginning, I played about 1/3 of the lesson and he played the other 2/3.  At the end, when I was a senior in high school, he hardly played at all.  There was nowhere for me to hide.  One thing he did was to assign me an aria or two to learn over the span of a week with the goal of coming back and playing it rubato and to interpret the musicality of it.  I would play.  He would listen.  If he was unsure of what I did, he would ask me to play again.  Then he would tell me what I did and ask me if I meant to do it and why.  Later, I would get these assigned and would have to transpose.  Up a step, down a step, up two steps, down two steps, up a third, up a fourth, down a fifth.  And this was his way – he taught me how to be a working trumpet player.  Someone who could show up and play a piece right the first time even if it was in the wrong key (which it frequently was).  He taught technique through music, not music through technique.

As a junior in high school and into college, Mr. Loreti got me gigs playing in churches and in the pit for the show Brigadoon.  I routinely got calls from his overflow.  When I was home for Easter in college, I got a rare treat.  He invited me to play at his church for the Easter service with him, his son Steven, and Wendi Shermer (one of his other students).  The reason it was a treat was that we all had the same tone.  We all had his tone.  Playing with this group made the hair on my arm stand up on end because of how rich we sounded that day.

Portrait

Into adulthood, I still played.  I found that I couldn’t put the instrument down for too long or I would get ill.  Making music helps complete me.  I’ve always loved the smaller trumpets (Eb, D, Piccolo) and now a responsible adult, I found the means to own these and set myself the goal of playing Telemann’s heroic marches as well as getting my Hummel back into gear.  I went home to visit my mom and gave Mr. Loreti a call – could I come by and get a lesson?  He agreed and we spent a half hour catching up and then I pulled out the Telemann and went through the first march, La Majesté and after playing it through he said, “there’s nothing wrong with that” and turned the page.  I can’t say the rest were as good, but it was great encouragement.

I will miss him dearly and will always be grateful for the gifts he gave me.

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