When all else fails - and for me it did - A systematic approach to trumpet playing and the guidance of Jeff Purtle have given me the steady progress that I've craved since I first picked up the trumpet. I've always had a real love for the trumpet, which I begun playing in school music when I was about 13 years old. The first recording of a trumpet player I really listened to was Chet Baker and I used to (try) and play along to that recording in my bedroom every night.
Unfortunately my trumpet instruction right from the beginning wasn't a very good one. My teacher was really a trombone player, not a trumpet player and his main advice was to make a good sound. Which I could...But the problems I had were endless: Mouthpiece placed in the red of the top lip; trumpet pointing towards the floor; smiling; lots of mouthpiece pressure; a range that refused to budge beyond the G ontop the staff and more.
The first time I realised that my playing wasn't anywhere near what it could or should be was when I saw a video of James Morrison on YouTube. The range, power, tone, technique it all blew me away. Not knowing what to do, I started searching the internet for answers. I found a lot of "answers" and a world of trouble. I tried - and failed - at everything. Lip Buzzing, Mouthpiece Buzzing, Pencil Exercise, Button Exercise, Upstream (Roy Stevens), Maggio, moving my mouthpiece placement higher, different mouthpieces. I couldn't find any teachers in my local area so I had some lessons with a few different teachers (Some very well known) over Skype.
But the road to hell was paved with good intentions! By the time high school was finished, I was a mess. My saving grace, musically, was that I can compose and so I did my music degree in composition and continue to carve out a career as a composer. But I always felt the trumpet as a momentous failure. It is one of the things that I can spend hours doing and not get bored in the slightest. And despite spending countless hours practicing I had gotten no where and taken my dear sweet time about it. Midway through 2012 I decided to give the trumpet one more go. I hadn't given the Claude Gordon stuff a go, and it was about the only thing I hadn't tried, so I contacted Jeff Purtle and setup some lessons... They say "it'll be in the last place you look" and that seems to have been the case here.
I'm by no means a good trumpeter yet, but when I practice the stuff Jeff assigns me, I get progress. Not miracles, but small, incremental progress. For me, there really can't be anything more gratifying then that.
Brisbane QLD, Australia
Composer & Conductor