Posts Tagged ‘Steve Madaio’

Steve Madaio

May 29, 2019

There’s a video on the Internet that proports to give lessons on playing the trumpet. It features Steve Madaio. And while I’m not particularly interested in learning a musical instrument. I am interested Steve Madaio. You see, I knew Steve a long time ago. We went to high school together. He was one of my best friends.

The video does not exemplify good teaching. It starts with Steve standing next to a young student. Steve plays a short ‘exercise’ and then says to his student, with no explanation or anything, just, ‘Now you do it.’ The student plays the exercise, and then Steve says. ‘It’s that easy.’ On to the next lesson he ends, ‘It’s that easy.’ And so on. There was nothing explained, like when you would use this particulate technique, or what it was good for. Nothing.

Come this September it will be 55 years since I first met Steve Madaio. My mother had to attend a PTA meeting where she met Mrs. Madaio. The Madaio family were new in town. Mrs. Madaio had a son who was also starting 9th grade. Steve, my mother told me, was looking for someone to hang out with. No big deal. He lived only two blocks away. Why not stop over there sometime? Oh, and Jim, he plays the trumpet too. Just like you.

It soon became apparent that Steve did not play ‘just like me’ at all–not by a long shot. When Steve played the trumpet, the angles sang. I was mediocre; Steve was amazing. There had been a hotly contested pecking order in the trumpet section established over the years. Jimmy Kaufman and David Dillinger had vied with each other all year to be the top banana. I could play one song, When the Saints go Marching in. Before Steve, I had to deal with a lot of grief, but being a friend of Steve Madaio improved my status immensely. It did not improve my playing one wit.

The band leader in Lynbrook South, Mr. Pinto, was a fiery and emotional guy. Hard to please. He heard Steve play maybe one note and he broke up the pecking order. Steve was given the first chair by acclamation. No body objected. Steve could play anything. That year we performed the music from Lawrence of Arabia for the Christmas concert. It was a pretty tough piece for a junior high school band. Steve carried us through it. Even Mr. Pinto was happy.

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