Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Music Mayhem (A tribute to Freddie Hubbard)

It's no secret I love music whether it be playing, listening or composing. I love all aspects of music. Yet it dawned on me as I was talking with some of my fellow musician friends, music can hurt. No, I don't mean on an emotional level because you're boyfriend broke up with you and you finally understand the sad lyrics. I am talking about actually physically harming and changing the musicians. These changes can be small such as calluses on the fingers of string players, getting blisters while theses calluses harden or just getting a sore back from holding the right playing posture for so long. But some injuries can be quite serious.
One of the worst injuries can be found with trumpet players. Trumpet players are constantly seeking the long high notes in their solos, but pressing your lips on a small piece of metal and using a lot of pressure for a long period of time can lead to devastating consequences. Not all injuries are playing related, for example, a crash on your bike or even dry lips can lead to some minor injuries. The majority of these injuries come from playing. This doesn't affect just amateurs with no technique but can hit even the biggest names in the trumpet world. 
During the 1970's one of the trumpet kings of the world was Freddie Hubbard. Hubbard had great success recording and playing with some of the top artists all around the world, including Billy Joel where Hubbard was feature on the track Zanzibar on the Grammy Award winning album 52nd Street. Despite all this success and his brilliant playing style, Hubbard was not immune to a lip injury. Hubbard was able to power his way through the 60's 70's and 80's but after 2 decades in 1992 Hubbard acquired a very serious lip injury. Playing in Switzerland he thought it would be a good idea to partake in a "high note" competition with a fellow trumpeter. However, as the competition grew fiercer and the notes acceded to unbelievable heights, the unthinkable happened. Hubbard's lip split open. Unfortunately for Hubbard this was in the middle of a tour, but being the true performer he was, Hubbard ignored the injury (got some basic stitching done) and continued with the tour. In hind sight this was probably the worst decision he could have made.
During the tour his lip became infected, this meant that the rest of his shows had to be cancelled and he had to have surgery performed. This meant that he would no longer be able to hit those high notes he spent his whole life chasing. His legendary playing technique that had once landed him the title of being one of the world’s best trumpet players was suddenly ripped out from under him due to one injury. Hubbard best described this feeling in a 2008 interview where he said "It's really something when you lose your chops like that. You feel like a motherless child."
Hubbard is a lesson to musicians everywhere, while some injuries are accidental, some are unavoidable and some come around by plain stupidity. If you don't stop to fix what's wrong early you may find your talent ripped from under your feet faster than you could possibly imagine. 

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