When being coached you must allow yourself to be led pass the limits held in your mind to new levels of performance that is unknown to you.

In high school I decided that I wanted to play an instrument. I signed up for a brass class thinking that that would allow me to play the saxophone but learned that the sax was woodwind so I chose to learn the trumpet.

There were three levels to the class: 1) beginners, 2) intermediate and 3) advanced – the school’s concert band.

In my beginners class, I was learning how to read music, buzz in the mouthpiece and how to understand each note. I remember being home buzzing well-known songs with my mouth, realizing that if I tightened or loosen my lips I can hit all the different tones needed.

My teacher, Mr. Levi Farrell, saw that I picked up the reading of music really well (I couldn’t see that).

On the concert band’s level (this is for those who don’t know) the trumpet section has three levels of sheet music (1st trumpet; 2nd trumpet; and 3rd trumpet) – 1st trumpet being the most difficult to read.

One day Mr. Farrell’s 1st trumpeters were having a difficult time reading the composition in front of them and in front of the entire concert band he said, “I have a kid in beginners band who can read that right now!” That person being me. What??!! I think he said that just to motivate them.

But it only took him only a couple of days of them not being able to read the music before he had to put me to that test. He came to me during class and told me to come back to the band room at lunch period because he had a sheet of music he wanted me to read.

Now I’m scared and really didn’t think that I could cash the check that Mr. Farrell just put up. I show up in the band room and see 3 guys (two percussionists and a 1st trumpeter) in the room and a sole music stand with the 1st trumpeter sheet music on it.

I quickly noticed that it wasn’t that they couldn’t read the entire sheet but there was a certain portion that had funky off-rhythm type of notes back to back to back. And the truth was, at least in my head, I couldn’t read them either. But my teacher believed that I could. So I had to try. I didn’t want to have him be embarrassed for bragging about me.

I began to play and as I was reaching that difficult portion, I could feel my heart beating faster. I couldn’t play the tune.

“Play it again!” Mr. Farrel was sitting directly next to me leaning forward in his chair highly engaged like he was leaning over a craps table in a casino. Behind me were the 3 other advance band members. I could just feel the 1st trumpeter say…you see even your boy can’t play that!

I tried playing that piece about 3 times. And the more I couldn’t play it the more Mr. Farrell got animated, urging “Play it again!”

The fourth time I tried, something happened.

When I reached that difficult portion in the music my mind went black. What I literally mean is that my eyes saw nothing…everything went all black and then my vision came back after that portion of the music was done.

I stopped and pulled the trumpet from my lips and looked at Mr. Farrell. “Was that it?” I asked.

YES! I played the piece. Mr. Farrell turned around to the guys triumphant and gloating because a guy in the beginning class played a piece for an advance class.

I was nervous the entire time but that day was the day I understood a small slice of what leadership is. That day was also the day that Mr. Farrell had decided to bump me up into advanced band but having me play 3rd trumpet. I was excited that I could skip an entire intermediate course!

Just because you don’t see something in you and feel like you can’t accomplish something doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t trust the person saying that you can. Sometimes you have to suspend your disbelief and walk into that dark place of the unknown and let go of the thoughts that limit you.

You can be on the next level now if you don’t limit yourself with your beliefs about what you can’t do!

I could’ve always played that piece of music but my thoughts wouldn’t allow me to do so. I believe that’s why my brain literally shut them down so I could play it. Sometimes you gotta go for the walk in the dark!

Mr. Farrell is now a minister. To read part of his bio click here. But that doesn’t share how he has impacted many of the lives that passed through his hands.


One response

  1. Thank you Mr. Farrel. Thank you for the inspiration, the belief in a youth who didn’t think he could to do, to a young man who is forging ahead, regardless. Who knew that God would use that day to cement leadership skills into the mind of this young man. Continue to forge ahead, young man, you are made of “good stuff.” Impact one young person at a time and change the world for good.

    What a lesson; what a teacher; what a learner; What a God. WOW!

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