Saturday, January 29, 2011

Trumpet Study Methods

It seems that trumpet players are always concerned about playing lots of notes quickly and correctly (i.e., "technique") and playing high notes (i.e. “screaming”). Where does that come from? Perhaps it is because all the great trumpet players do both. Where to begin? All amateur and aspiring trumpet students start out with Arban’s or Saint-Jacome's method books.

Joseph Jean Baptiste Laurent Arban (1825 – 1889) was probably the first famous trumpet (cornet) soloist. Born in France, he entered the Paris Conservatory at an early age, taking up the study of valved cornet. He was in the French Navy and became a professor at the Military School in 1857. Arban was then elected professor of cornet at the Conservatory in 1869. He was also a cornet soloist throughout Europe and authored Method for the Cornet (1870), which was endorsed and adopted for instruction at the Conservatory. It is still in print. This method of studying the cornet, which is often referred to as the "Trumpeter's Bible," is still studied by modern brass players. It contains hundreds of exercises. The method begins with fairly basic exercises and progresses to very advanced compositions. It focuses on trumpet technique. I started with an Arban’s in the 1960s. It seems all the other trumpet students also studied out of Arban’s.

Louis A. Staint-Jacome (1830 – 1898) was born in Paris and died in London. Louis began his musical training at the age of seven on the piano and violin, taking lessons from his stepfather, a bandmaster. He later studied the cornet at the Paris Conservatory from which he graduated in 1850, winning first prize on the instrument. He must have personally known, or surely at least been familiar with Joseph Arban. In 1870 he became musical arranger for a publishing company and during his tenure with that company he wrote his famous Grand Method for cornet.

It is considered by many players and educators as second to none, except perhaps for the Arban’s. Many teachers believe that the Arban’s method and the St. Jacome method compliment each other, and that the two of them together comprise a complete education on the trumpet.

The French and European trumpet methods of study surely made their way to the United States and influenced American trumpet players.

John Philip Sousa (1854 – 1932) was an American composer and conductor known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. He is known as "The March King." Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., and started his music education by playing the violin. When Sousa reached the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted his son in the United States Marine Corps as an apprentice to keep him from joining a circus band. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years until 1875. In 1880 he returned to the U.S. Marine Band and remained as its conductor until 1892. Sousa led "The President's Own" band under five presidents.
Sousa organized his own band the year he left the Marine Band, but also served during World War I, leading the Navy Band at the Great Lakes Naval Station. After returning to his own band at the end of the war, he continued to wear his naval uniform for most of his concerts and other public appearances. The Sousa Band toured from 1892–1931, performing at 15,623 concerts. It was a very popular band.

Herbert L. Clarke (1867 – 1945) was an American cornetist, composer, conductor, teacher and one of the most influential musicians at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1893, he joined Sousa and his band in the solo cornet section. After he turned 50, he began to concentrate on conducting and teaching. He opened his own school of cornet playing in Chicago. Clarke died in 1945 and was buried in Washington DC near the grave of his lifelong friend, John Philip Sousa.

Claude Gordon (1916 – 1996) was known as the "King of Brass." He was a trumpet soloist, band director, educator, lecturer, and author. His father was a clarinet soloist as well as an orchestral director. Gordon became Herbert L. Clarke's protégé from 1936 until Clarke died in 1945. During the era of live radio and television, Claude distinguished himself as one of the most successful studio trumpet players and gained a reputation as "the trumpet player who never misses." Claude died from cancer.

There have been a lot of “modern” trumpet players who were excellent soloists, such as Louis Armstrong (1901 – 1971), one of the first well known improvisational soloists; Dizzy Gillespie (1917 – 1993) “be bop” soloist with excellent high note range (shown with upturned trumpet bell); Miles Davis (1926 – 1991), perhaps the greatest trumpet jazz soloist (shown with sun glasses); and Maynard Ferguson (1928 – 2006), big band leader and soloist known for his high notes (shown).

There are a lot more—both classical and jazz trumpet players. Notable jazz trumpet players include Chet Baker, Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Blue Mitchell, Lee Morgan and more and more.

To me, Clifford Brown seems to have been one of the most “studied” of some of these trumpet players, although I am only going on the sound of his solos. Clifford Brown (1930 – 1956), died at age 25, leaving behind only four years' worth of recordings. Still, he had a considerable influence on some of those other jazz trumpet players. He won the 1954 Down Beat critics' poll for the 'New Star of the Year' and was inducted into the Down Beat 'Jazz Hall of Fame' in 1972. He formed his own group with Max Roach. The Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet was a high water mark of the hard bop style.

The clean-living Brown has been cited as perhaps breaking the influence of heroin on the jazz world, a model established by Charlie Parker. Clifford stayed away from drugs and was not fond of alcohol. Sadly, in 1956, Brown was a passenger in a car and was killed with two others when the driver lost control of the car and it went off the road.

But Jon Faddis (born 1953) has got to be one of the top, if not the top American jazz trumpet player, particularly in the combined areas of technique and high note screaming. You’ve got to hear his music. At least, that’s my opinion. Faddis is a trumpet player, conductor, composer, and educator. The internet states that Faddis currently teaches at The Conservatory of Music at Purchase College-SUNY, in Westchester, New York and he is a guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago where he serves as the Artistic Director for the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. I’d say he’s pretty “studied.” I’d even bet he studied trumpet techniques out of Arban’s and Saint-Jacome’s at one point.

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