Trumpet Professor Helps Student Identify, Work Through Metal Allergy

School of Music

An observant and invested professor can change a student’s life. For trumpet performance major Neal Hillam, the mentorship of professor Jason Bergman meant the difference between thriving in the School of Music and putting aside a longtime dream — possibly forever.

It’s difficult for Hillam to pinpoint an exact moment when playing the trumpet became a physically painful experience for him. 

“I’ve played the trumpet for most of my life, so I think I was just kind of used to it,” said Hillam. “I would feel this tingling or stinging when I put the metal mouthpiece up to my face, but I played through it because it always felt like that. It was really during the last two years when I started to feel serious pain, where it hurt to play or even touch my face after I’d been playing.”

By the time Bergman joined the BYU music faculty last August, Hillam was already developing compensation injuries, including muscle and nerve damage in his face.