Glen Newton, Sixth Grade Trumpeter

Glen Newton with trumpet. Portrait by Olan Mills studio. Glen Newton posed with his Conn Victor trumpet in 1959 at the end of his sixth grade year.

Glen earned the red ribbon he is wearing in the photograph for performing the solo, "The Golden Trumpet," by Major Chenette, accompanied on piano by his mother, Dorothy Newton. He is wearing the Big Rapids High School band uniform issued to him by band director Aldie Long so he could march with the senior band (mostly 9th through 12th graders) in the Memorial Day parade, a rare honor for a sixth grader.

The following fall, Aldie Long gave Glen another honor by letting him, a seventh grader, play in the stage band, a small ensemble comprised of the best instrumentalists in the brass and saxophone sections, plus rhythm section players. Not only was he the only seventh grader in the stage band that year, he played the first trumpet parts, along with two older students.

Glen played the Conn Victor trumpet shown above through his sophomore year in high school. His parents had bought the used instrument from Archie Drake, a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony who had driven the 50 miles north to Big Rapids to demonstrate the instrument to the Newtons. The beautiful tone Archie demonstrated on the instrument helped convince them to buy the instrument. Recordings of Glen playing the Victor demonstrate, however, that while his technique developed rapidly, his tone on that instrument never matured to match Archie's.

Although the horn was fine for a beginner, one Solo and Ensemble festival judge acknowledged the instrument's limitations with the comment, "good talent for your horn," on Glen's rating sheet. He got a new Mendez model Olds trumpet in 11th grade and performed on it for the next thirty years, eventually developing a good tone.

This page was last updated
Friday, February 07, 2020.

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