I play in a brass fanfare ensemble. The instruments we play are referred to as herald trumpets, which are basically long belled trumpets and valved trombones that can hold banners. They come from the British tradition, and you’ve likely seen this type of instrument at a ceremony of some sort. Here at the Community of Jesus, we often use herald trumpets to play celebratory fanfares for large church feasts throughout the year. Currently, we practice each Wednesday morning at 6:00 am. Starting early allows the eight of us nearly thirty minutes together before anyone has to rush off to work. It may seem obvious, but sometimes first thing in the morning is a hard time to be playing an instrument, and even harder to try and work as an ensemble. (Personally, I’m often not worth talking to until I’ve been up for a while; with somedays being worse than others!) This past Wednesday morning, we were practicing a fanfare with a softer, exposed solo line in the middle, which is my part. We played it 2 or 3 times, and I could tell I wasn’t playing it very well. I was trying, and getting frustrated internally with myself. Not unexpectedly, after a few times of missing the mark, some of the other players started turning to me. I braced myself for whatever might be coming my way, since I sometimes don’t take criticism very well at anytime of the day, let alone first thing in the morning. There actually was grace to listen to their suggestions about the phrasing and my approach. They were much less critical of me than I was of myself. With their advice, I was able to relax my breath and give my energy to the group, rather then worrying about how I sounded. In return, my body, and finally the instrument responded with a much better sound. So it’s 6:15 with only 1/2 a cup of coffee, and God is already working away.