Peter Cain (1979) Trumpet
Music, in my life, started out one day in fourth grade, rotating in and out of a few classrooms, for a brief tryout on numerous instruments. My music playing fate was determined that day; the trumpet was the right fit for me.
Fast forward to New Trier West High School. I already signed up for the “standard” concert band. What about Jazz Ensemble? Was I good enough? The New Trier West High School Recording Jazz Ensemble’s reputation was proven; they were great. I heard that Roger Mills, the director, was very serious. What head coach of a great team isn’t serious? So I gave it a shot. Mills must have seen potential in me because I was not prepared, trumpet skills, or mentally. I realized quickly that I needed to up my game. It was clear that I needed to dedicate myself to this instrument and to the team, or I was going to get embarrassed, or shown the door. No joke!
Like students who played sports, this was the musical version of the varsity team. This was our ‘sport.’ Private lessons, Jazz Ensemble class every day, and practice at home every night. Rinse and repeat. I even started a jazz record collection. I was all in!
What was the end game? Focus all “season” on our Super Bowl. A concert in a packed auditorium, where we would make an album. That goal drove me to be more dedicated than ever.
The Jazz journey, senior year, was challenging, fun, and left me with a real sense of accomplishment. Mills trusted me enough to “put me in the game.” He wrote me a great recommendation to the college I attended (yes, I graduated too). My music playing career ended in college, but I did stay connected/interested, taking a Jazz Music class taught by Paul Jeffrey.
I had not thought about my New Trier West Jazz Ensemble experience for a long time. This exercise was a long overdue refresh/reminder of how important NTW Jazz Ensemble was in shaping my approach to work/business (I did not realize it 40+ years ago). Work hard, listen, compete, and improve.
Thank you, Roger Mills, and the 1979 team for a memorable season and lessons learned.