Interview w/ Trumpet Tester; Kent Hocker (early 2000)

Interview w/ Trumpet Tester; Kent Hocker (early 2000)
Trumpet tester at Conn Selmer; Elkhart, IN

Kent Hocker earned a music degree in performance at Indiana University before he began working in the music industry.  He joined the Selmer Company of Elkhart in 1977 as a trumpet tester.

  • How many people work at the Bach plant?

We have about 500 people working in the Bach plant.

  • How did you get a job testing trumpets at the plant?

Back in 77, I was playing in the South Bend Symphony, and Craig, the assistant principal, was testing at the time. He said they were looking for another tester, and wanted to know if I was interested. Sounded good to me, so I went in the next day, and have been there ever since. If you can find the Bach brochure from 1986, there are pictures of people who work there. There I am, in the test room, playing a horn.

  • How do you actually test a horn?

When we test a horn, we set the venturi (the opening of the leadpipe). Different leadpipes have different openings. We swedge, or drill, to the correct size. We set the mouthpiece receiver, we check the valve port alignment, we check for solder inside the tubes, and we check the alignment of the mounting, slide action, valve action, and response and sound of the model. A 43 bell is more open and very bright compared to A 37. A 72 is darker etc.

  • What happens if a horn is bad?

If a horn is bad, it is my responsibility to determine what is wrong. I then have the horn repaired as needed. It is rare however that any playability problems get to me. The horns are checked all the way down the line.

  • Have you met anyone famous working at the plant?

I have met a lot of people, mostly Symphony guys, and educators. I have never met Doc, but talked to him once. He never knew who I was, I just took a message for my boss, but I thought it was pretty cool!

  • How big is the plant and how can someone get a tour?

The plant is just one floor, and to get a tour, call customer service, they can help.

A video interview with Ken made by NAMM in October 2011, can be found here.

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