Paul Morton is a trumpeter, a brass instructor at UL, and a member of the Acadiana Symphony, where he also serves on the ASO Board. spoke with him recently.

Tell us about yourself.

This is my 11th year at UL. Before that I worked at Bemidji State University in Minnesota.

I'm married to a cellist, Susan, who plays with the Acadiana Symphony, teaches at Lafayette High, and is an adjunct here at UL.

Since I was a real little kid I knew I was called to play trumpet. It picked me, and I know I wouldn't want to do anything other than what I'm doing now. So then it's a matter of figuring out how to make a living.

And after that you have to figure out how to give it away. I knew what I was passionate about, so then I just have to work on giving it away a little each day. For me, the best way was to teach at a university, so I got a doctorate.

My main teacher was a guy named Ray Mase at the North Carolina School of the Arts. I also went to a conservatory, the Hartt School of Music in Hartford CT. I did my doctorate at the University of Alabama. Roll Tide.

Then you just travel around doing work. It's what I tell my students, if you want to do what you love, you have to be ready to travel. If you want to be a band director you can stay in one place, there are jobs locally. But if you're going to perform, or be in the music business in some way-- recording studios, or music administration-- pretty much you're going to have to leave Lafayette. And that doesn't always go over well with the local Cajuns and Creoles. They like to stay here.

I just talked to Terrance Simien, and he has to travel all over the world. It wears you out. It's exciting to talk about, but the actual fact of traveling is not so easy to do. The physical aspect of sitting on a plane for 8 hours, it wears you out.

We all have to pay dues, and that is part of it.

And yet you ended up here.

Yeah. It's amazing. I think this place is great, I'm not going anywhere.

Lafayette has the small-town feel, but in the arts it has big-city opportunities. So to be in the arts, it's a great place to live. It's a great place for a lot of reasons, and I was very fortunate to land here.

You have to realize that getting a university position is very, very competitive. That year I got the job at Bemidji, there were six college positions for trumpet advertised in the entire US.

How did you get the job here?

When I came to UL, I knew William Chapman Nyaho, and I knew Buddy Himes in a round-about way. They don't help you get the job, but they help you get through the first rounds of paperwork.

Tell us about the brass program.

One of the main things I do is sponsor a student brass quintet, which is two trumpets, French horn, trombone, and tuba. I raise $8K a year in scholarship money for them.

How do you raise that much money?

Different ways. There are independent donors, the students provide music services around the community for different functions. They also do school performances, for which I write grants. So they play in the schools, they do school demonstrations. They get half tuition to play in the quintet. That helps them mature as musicians through chamber music, one on a part.

One on a part?

That's really important, because in band there may be 10 trumpets, or in a choir there may be 20 altos. But in a quintet, you're 20% of the whole. That's a lot of exposure to error.

How many students audition for the quintet?

It just depends, it rotates. It's not the same five people for four years. So you have some people who are new, and the older players help them along. It's the 12th year of the program, and maybe 40 or 50 kids have gone through.

What about your own music?

Being a musician and being a teacher are one in the same, one feeds the other. I do a lot of outside work, which is great. I do a lot of classical, and a lot of jazz.

Where do you play jazz?

I teach it here, the faculty do a few things, I do some parties & background music, occasionally a club but not too often. I just did the Acadiana Symphony Designers' Showhouse Jazz Brunch-- actually, I did three of them.

What are your dreams for the program?

I'd like to be at a place where we didn't have to continually look for students. I've wanted that for 11 years. We get better students than ever, but the selective admissions didn't affect us at much. The kids who are good musicians are usually good students.

But I'd like to be at a point where the kids are really coming to us, and they're coming because they accept us as a place where they can really mature as musicians-- somewhere that other people are telling them is a great place.

If you weren't playing trumpet, what would you do for a living?

I seriously do not know. I have no other aspirations.

I like to sit on my couch, drink beer and watch the NFL. But I seriously doubt anybody will pay me to do that.