I met Rafael
Méndez - Larry Edmonson
I met Raphael
Mendez in Indianapolis in 1957. The amount I learned about technique in
one short clinic was, to me, amazing. The one thing that has lived with
me over the years, however, is his response to one small boy's
question. The boy appeared to be about ten years old. His question,
asked in a plaintive tone, was: "Do I really have to practice twenty
minutes a day?"
Most of the people in the room began to laugh. Mendez' response was
instantaneous. "Please don't laugh," he said. The way he said it seemed
to combine a sense that it was unspeakably bad to laugh at an innocent
child and an imploring request to honor the better angels of our
He was kindness incarnate. Mendez taught me much about playing trumpet
that day; he taught me even more about being human.