When it comes to devising a lesson plan for a prospective student, I approach it the same way I evaluate my own musical development: find what works. And while this sounds like an over-simplified strategy—it's really not. Of course there are the basic rudiments that every beginner trumpet player must master, but beyond that we must remember that every individual is different. A one-size approach does not and cannot work when you take into account that no two brass players have the same embouchure formation, teeth alignment, natural compression, etc.
Over the years I've been fortunate to either study or perform with some of the best trumpeters out there, and the one uniformity I see time and again is that every single one of them has a different (and sometimes completely polar opposite) approach. You must do long tones. Never do long tones. Pedal tones. No Pedal tones. Do lots of lip slurs. Drink lots of water. Extended warm-ups. Short warm-ups. Use lots of air. Use very little air. Practice softly. Change your hand grip. The list goes on and on. And I will tell you that I have personally tried them all. Some have worked for me—many haven't.
As music students, our first responsibility is to acquire the know-how. Once we’re able to digest the knowledge we then attempt to apply it to our own playing. Sometimes we’re successful. Other times we’re not. And sometimes, revisiting a particular practice routine or series of exercises is just what the doctor ordered. The point is that we must find what works for US. I’ve lost track of how many countless hours I’ve wasted over the years trying to cram the square peg into the round hole—all because I was convinced a particular method had to work; after all, if it worked for so and so (who is a phenomenally successful brass player) then it has to also work for me, right? Not necessarily. We need to keep an open mind, and ears.
Practice Techniques and Habits
I try to remain impartial when it comes to the student and the way they want to learn, whether it's visually, aurally, or interactively. I then construct a lesson plan that is designed specifically for that person. When it comes to the content I teach my students, I like to keep it engaging and active. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing my students enjoy what they are doing and develop a passion for music! It is very important to me that the student progresses at his or her own pace, making sure he or she is comfortable with the content. I encourage this by setting realistic goals for my students and making a sensible curriculum to help accomplish their goals and making them eager to learn more. Sparking their interests helps me find ways to dig deeper into what truly inspires the students.
My ability to teach and convey musical concepts and techniques has evolved in many ways over the years. I feel my responsibility to a student lies in simplifying sometimes complex and abstract ideas and presenting them in a fashion that an inexperienced musician can comprehend. I believe that a student needs to experience progress and be able to utilize the material at hand in order to be motivated. In addition to establishing the basic fundamentals of playing the instrument, there is also the encouragement of the creative process.
The lessons I teach are built around a stress free environment where no judgment can be found. It's all about enjoying what you're doing and having fun! To help you achieve your individual goals, I'm dedicated to helping you learn the best ways to practice so you can apply those skills on your own. Most importantly, I feel that I am there to set an example for the student. My musicianship, personal work ethic and dedication can serve as an inspiration. My ultimate goal is to instruct the student to be his/her own teacher. If a student experiences enthusiasm and excitement and has a depth of understanding of the process then they will be motivated to explore music outside of the practice room.