Double bell tuba

Double bell tuba
Double bell tuba

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tuba Gas ...

16-year-old asks 'Make-A-Wish' Foundation for a tuba ...

Karen Swalberg, Jodi Scott, Ian Hopper, Dr. Steve Call, Gary Ofenloch all pose for a portrait after Hopper of Orem was given a tuba from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Photo courtesy Erin Pritchett

OREM -- Sixteen-year-old Ian Hopper of Orem likes cars, the tuba (an instrument he has played since seventh grade), art, hanging out with friends and playing soccer and Ultimate Frisbee. He's not so crazy about being a cancer patient diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma a week before Christmas in 2010.

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah, Tuesday was a brighter day than many of the recent ones for Ian. The foundation, which granted 137 wishes for young people with life-threatening illnesses in Utah alone last year, made a dream come true for the Orem High School student by arranging for him to receive a tuba of his very own.

According to plan, Hopper and his family went to Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City on the assumption that they were invited to watch the dress rehearsal for a Utah Symphony performance. On cue, conductor David Cho broke from rehearsal, brought Hopper on stage and presented the instrument to the young man, along with enough concert tickets for him to attend the show with his whole family that evening. Looking on from the front row were family and friends.

But the excitement didn't end there. Hopper was invited backstage to meet one-on-one with Gary Ofenloch, principal tuba player with the Utah Symphony, who gave him some pointers about the new instrument, which is very different from the old one.

"He taught me some fingerings for the new tuba, because I didn't know them," Ian said.

The wish didn't end there, though.

Hopper falls "right in the middle" as the fourth of seven kids in the family of Michael and Vicky Hopper. All of the Hoppers got to enjoy a meal at Texas Roadhouse in Lehi as part of the eventful day.

And Professor Stephen Call of Brigham Young University is providing two months of lessons free of charge for Hopper -- lessons that had already begun with the old tuba. Call also presented his pupil with a high-end mouthpiece for the new instrument.

"We were filled with gratitude for every one's participation," said Vicky Hopper. "It seemed like people came out of the woodwork to make this time of Ian's life special."

Hopper said some of his band friends who have seen the tuba are "pretty jealous." For him, having the instrument means he can choose to go on to college, and from there, to go to work professionally for an organization such as the Utah Symphony, he said.

Hopper's band teacher at Orem High, Howard Summers, was one of the friends and supporters on hand to see the presentation of the tuba at Abravanel Hall. He described Hopper as "a good kid and a hard worker," who auditioned and made it into an advanced group as a sophomore.

Summers said there were big smiles on Tuesday, and the Make-A-Wish gift has helped Hopper to be more open about his situation, which the teacher sees as a positive result.

"He had a choice of wishes, and it came down to a big vacation with his family, or the tuba," Summers said. "He went with the tuba, and that feels like he is looking toward the rest of his life, being around and living his dreams."

Hopper confirmed that the reason he chose the tuba was that it would be something long-lasting.

Vicky Hopper said his siblings have stepped up to be "amazingly supportive" of their brother, and they make sure he is cared for.

Hopper is currently being home-schooled through a special program, but on days when he feels well enough, his brother Phillip sees to it that Ian comes to band class with him at Canyon View Junior High, where he can sit in and play.

Treatments continue, and the results of a PET scan are due next week.

The family is hoping the cancer is gone, Vicky Hopper said, "but we'll see what happens."

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Jazz Gig ...

Toscanini is conducting the New York Phil and there is a trumpet part that nobody can cut. They try and try but to no avail. Finally someone recommends a jazz trumpeter named Ernie that lives in town that would be able to execute the part.

Toscanini has a cow and states that he will NEVER hire ANY jazz musician as they are undependable, dress bad, have terrible attitudes, etc. etc. Finally, after numerous attempts he is forced to call the guy.

Ernie walks in, sits down, pulls his axe out of a brown paper bag and looks up at Toscanini, nods and says, "How ya doin my man?" He then proceeds to execute the part perfectly to everyone's amazement.

The next day is the dress rehearsal and the same thing
happens ... he shows up, pulls his horn out of a brown paper bag, looks up at Toscanini and says, "How ya doin my man?" 1st time through he nails the part again.
Finally, after the rehearsal Toscanini approaches Ernie and tells him he has to apologize for the negative attitude he has had towards jazz musicians. "I've always had terrible experiences with jazz musicians as they have been undependable and high or drunk, can't count on them, they dress bad, etc. etc. BUT you have changed my opinion on the subject by being on time and executing the part to perfection and I thank you for that."

To which Ernie replies, "Hey man, thanks. I figured it's the least I could do seeing as I can't make the gig tomorrow.”