And just like that, their instruments were silenced.
Two members of jazz musician Chuck Mangione's band, including a well-respected D.C.-area guitarist, were among those killed on the plane that crashed into a Buffalo house on Thursday.
"I'm in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy of the crash of Flight 3407, which took the lives of my dear friends and band members. I am grieving and praying with their families and friends," Mangione said in a statement.
As a teen, Mellett was an understudy to Maryland guitar guru Paul Wingo and later learned from another guitar great, Joe Negri, in Pittsburgh while on scholarship at Duquesne University.
"I can't believe it. It's a deep, deep loss," Wingo said.
Mellett later was spotted by Mangione while performing on a Manhattan cable TV program. After an audition, Mellett was hired and eventually became a permanent member of the group.
Mellett is survived by his wife and his parents, who live in McLean, Va.
"He was so full of joy, so full of love," Wingo said. "It would always come through the music, come through his instrument. It would just flow out."
Mangione and his band were scheduled to perform Friday with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall. The concert has been postponed.