My heart stopped as the repairman approached my trumpet with a mallet and a leather strap. Did I really want him to touch it? What if it’s worse after he gets hold of it? Why did I bring it here in the first place? As he disassembled it, casually scattering parts and pieces all over his scarred and battered worktop, I took a deep breath and decided I needed a drink with lunch if I ever made it out of there.
There was no doubt it needed some tender loving care after having been “rode hard and put away wet” for too many years. It had even sat neglected in its case for a couple of years while I had babies to take care of, and disuse isn’t kind to brass instruments. You can get all sorts of damage and corrosion if it’s left to languish in an unclean state. The mallet and strap didn’t scream TLC to me, however. I chose to just avert my eyes as I began to hear whacks and the sound of a slide being repeatedly yanked against the strap that had been anchored in the vise. The propane torch came out, and penetrating oil was applied, and unsoldering the end of the slide was discussed as a last resort. I really wanted to avoid any unsoldering if it could be helped.
A last-ditch effort back at the mallet and straps brought a grunt of satisfaction from the old-world repairman. As he read me a good-natured riot act about keeping the horn clean now, he dipped it and buffed it and reamed out a valve casing, all the while talking. I was so relieved to have it on the way to being back together again, I nodded and took my verbal punishment as something I was due.
I drove a few (hundred) miles to go get my instrument looked at by a repair guru. I laid awake the night before, anxious about having someone mess with my trumpet. And I felt like a kid with a new toy when I got out of there.