My Approach

The Short Answer

If you are thinking about auditioning for the trumpet studio and the School of Music at Central Michigan University (or any other school)  you should know something about the trumpet teacher with whom you will study.  That person will be the primary one to guide you through the thickets of undergraduate or graduate study on the trumpet specifically and music in general; you will be impacted by many others during your time in school, but the applied teacher is crucial.  That person will also be able to advise you on the career path you choose and help you see the way forward. 

My teaching is focused on the needs and goals of the student and so are individualized.  There is no "one-size-fits-all" lesson.  Within this variety, I focus on healthy tone production which is the center of playing the trumpet well - from that flows flexibility, endurance, range, clear articulations, etc., which all allow for effective music making.  A good sound is, in fact, YOUR best sound and will fit in a variety of settings, including band, orchestra and jazz ensembles. 

 

Beyond these considerations, trumpeters must gain a set of skills which make them valuable to young students, to composers, to other musicians, and to audiences.   Musicians who play the trumpet and teach music MUST: know their scales and arpeggios and be able to play and think "in keys"; be able to transpose; be able to play with appropriate style in many kinds of music; have knowledge of the literature and educational methods (pedagogy) of the trumpet. 

Finally, the trumpet is a MUSICAL instrument!  The human voice is our model and to sing - as a singer might sing, in any style or genre - is our goal. 

The Long Answer

Not really comprehensive, but just a list of the ideas, and individuals who shape my approach to teaching.

1.  When we are playing music, our focus should be on just that: THE MUSIC.  Our unconscious mind is tasked with controlling the body, while our conscious mind focuses on what we want to come out of the bell.  We can play trumpet easily and naturally if we train the body to do so! 

2.  I use a LOT of metaphors in teaching the trumpet!  Some are to guide our musical mind, while some others are more physical and guide the action of playing. 

3.  When we play the trumpet well, it is simple; when things aren't quite working for us, that's when it becomes complicated.  Keep it simple!

4.  It is important to think positively about what we are doing.  Negative thinking is "try not to mess this up"; positive thinking is when your mind is filled with the sound, timbre, articulation, pitch, rhythm, phrasing, etc. of what you are about to do.  It sounds simple, but there is a world of difference between focusing on what you will do rather than what you do not want to do. 

5.  It's reasonable to assume that MY teachers have influenced my approach to teaching.  I don't teach like any of them, but I have taken a lot from all of them.  While I have had some lessons with other teachers, these were the ones with whom I spent the most time.  Click on their names if you want to find out more about them.  I've always been interested in history and like to contemplate the trumpet-family tree!

              J. Robert Hanson was my teacher at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.  He was my greatest inspiration and made me want to be both                         a player and a teacher.  He played principal trumpet for a time in the Milwaukee Symphony, but when I studied with him he was a trumpet

              teacher and the conductor of both the college orchestra and the local symphony, the Fargo Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.  He was a great

              trumpet player, who had studied for a while with Bud Herseth, who became a great model for how the trumpet should sound in an orchestra.

              I studied with Manny Laureano for a year after I graduated from college, but it was in the 3 years following when I played principal trumpet in

              the excellent community orchestra that Manny conducted (the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in Minneapolis) that I learned the most from

              him.  I had the chance to play many big pieces by Mahler, Strauss, Bartok, etc. that really shaped my playing.   Also Manny was, and still is, one               of the most thrilling orchestral trumpeters to hear play live. When I first started playing some bigger pieces professionally, it helped me to 

              imagine "how Manny would do it".  

              After my time in Minneapolis, I moved to New York City in large part to study with William Vacchiano, (who also taught Manny) which did for               nearly two years.  He was for me "the right teacher at the right time".  He was a remarkable musician, a genius at solfeggio and transposition, 

              and the person who imparted a number of performance "rules" that I find very valuable and so transmit to my students.  These rules center

              around rhythm, articulation, and phrasing.                                                       

              I studied at the Yale School of Music for my master's degree, where I worked with the great Allan Dean.  Allan (a student of Bob Hanson)

              continues to be a source of inspiration; when I hear Allan play, I just hear beautiful playing that rises above categorization.  He had a                                 remarkable career playing every kind of music on the trumpet in addition to playing early music on cornetto, baroque trumpet, recorder, and                 shawm. 

              My final stop with a trumpet teacher was the great Roger Voisin, with whom I studied at Boston University as I was earning my doctorate. 

              Roger was my finisher and as such was a great help in making musical decisions around rhythm and phrasing, and clearly "pronouncing"

              the music.  He was a great supporter for me as I was finishing my education and I will always appreciate the juice box and cookie I got at the

              end of my lessons!