Behind the Scenes with Jim Arthur

Never underestimate the influence of a good woman – or a trombone. Jim Arthur claims that his trombone and wife were instrumental in bringing him back to church after a hiatus for most of his adult life. 

About 11 years ago, the couple went to a concert at a church in Seattle and happened upon a friend who played the trombone. Knowing Jim played the trombone, the friend invited Jim to come join an active trombone group at BelPres. Jim was hesitant, “I heard that Bellevue was where the snobs lived and we’re just not like that,” but his wife encouraged him to go. It was a rough start to feel welcome in the group, yet he came back. Jim and his wife, Liz, thoroughly enjoyed the services when Jim played and began attending regularly. Apparently, the congregation redeemed themselves. As Jim puts it, “Turns out they were very friendly!” 

For 9 of the 11 years that Jim and his wife have been attending BelPres, Jim has volunteered as the coordinator for the three trombone groups. He manages 98 trombonists on an email roster. Many on the list volunteer to play with at least one of the three groups.

First, there’s the Read and Play group that meets each Wednesday night. They gather to play from the 1700 chart-library solely arranged for trombones. The BelPres Trombone Choir performs five-six times per year in the Sanctuary Church services, and Jubilee Trombones entertains outside the church four to five times a year. Jim is at every practice and performance. He sets up, tears down, and plays in all groups. He recruits 8-12 volunteer players for the BelPres church services. He also helps organize the extensive music library. He describes himself as “The Mother Hen” of the group. He’s been playing the trombone since fourth grade and is mostly self-taught. He also serves as a Deacon, a greeter, a communion server, and regular usher, in addition to his participation in Jubilee Service Day.

Jim attempted to educate me about the trombone. Since it’s comprised of metal, the trombone is very sensitive to hot and cold. If you’re playing in the cold, it’s important to warm the mouth piece in your pocket or you’re liable to have your lips get stuck to it. Also, your lips determine much of the sound and tone, and they have to be vibrating. If you want to be able to play those really low, cool-sounding notes, you attach extra tubing to your trombone and manipulate a lever called the trigger. 

The majority of Jim’s career was as a Mortgage Banker, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He loves the trombone groups because they give him an opportunity to play and also use his administrative skills. It’s his way of praising the Lord. 

Jim, what a faithful guy you are, and a gentleman. You greeted me at the door with tomatoes from your garden, yum! I think it’s appropriate to admit that you are music to our ears! We thank you for your consistent service to us and our community, and we are blessed by listening.

“Let everything that has breath praise Him with trumpet sound.” (Psalm 150:3).

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