The biggest fault in our modern educational system is, arguably, the lack of funding to our music and arts programs.
Compared to something like math or science, the arts are generally viewed as a frivolous extracurricular activity. If our nation's legislators knew more people like Mitchell Cooper, they would realize how wrong that viewpoint is.
A native of the Antelope Valley, Cooper began playing the trumpet at the age of eight, while attending Sundown Elementary.
The music director noticed he had an embouchure that would be great for trumpet, as opposed to other horns. He picked up the instrument and possibly made the most important decision of his life.
Cooper continued his musicianship through his formative years. He attended Quartz Hill High School from 2006-2010 and played in the marching band the entire time.
During his junior year, he became the section leader and moved on to drum major during his senior year.
"I loved it so much," Cooper said. “All 100+ people in that band felt like a huge extended family."
Since his high school graduation, he has continued to perform with large ensembles.
For about six years, he played trumpet in orchestra pits for Patricia Graham and Los Angeles-based band, The Urban Renewal Project.
Currently, Cooper is a lead trumpet player for Orkestar Meze and most recently, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. He is also a lead trumpet player for a prominent theme park.
Out of all the gigs that Cooper has been involved in, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy may be the most personal for him.
Growing up as a horn player, they were one of his favorite bands. They inspired Mitch to arrange/write music and become a better player. He recalls the story of landing the gig with great passion:
"They needed a lead trumpet player and asked if I'd be interested to come on tour for an audition," he said. "Of course I was down! I immediately fell in love with playing with these guys. My first couple shows with them were in March of 2017. By April 2017, they asked me to be the lead trumpet for them. This band helped light a spark in me that I needed and helped me with my other gigs. A dream come true!"
When arguing for the funding of the arts in schools, one can use statistics to make a case. However, they don't truly have an impact until some humanity is attached.
People like Cooper bring that humanity to this discussion. It's hard to deny that music and art indispensable support posts in the structure of our society.
Cooper says it best, "Music education helps combine math, science, and language. It's both an emotional and physical thing that we can apply to other aspects in our lives. I don't know what my life would be like without my experience in music class in school."