I’ve been paying the trumpet all of my life. I started in second grade and was pretty good at it from the start. I liked it and as I grew older I got serious about it. I prodded my parents to let me study privately at the Eastman School of Music, which was a good experience except that I was not that keen on classical trumpet music. I liked jazz. It was Louis Armstrong that got me hooked. My parents took me to a concert to hear him and to this day I think that was most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.

By the time I got to high school, my mind was made up: I wanted to be a jazz trumpet. My parents laughed. They thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. I immersed myself in music. I worked hard at it and eventually became a fair jazz player as well as an adequate commercial player so, I did manage a brief “career” in NYC.

However,  I never felt I was actually playing as well as I could.  Nagging physical problems left me constantly frustrated. I  studied with good teachers but despite some good advice, nothing ever changed.

After semi-retiring,  I began a determined search for answers.  I tried every method and system I could find. Finally, I discovered the work of Claude Gordon. It was a ‘alleluia’ moment. His clear explanation of how the  trumpet was played made sense in terms of solving the problems I was having.

I worked out his books for awhile by myself but then another “alleluia’ moment: I discovered Jeff Purtle and his on-line lessons. (Despite my luddite tendencies, the on-line lessons work very well. No problems there.)

The last three years have been a dream come true. Slowly, with Jeff’s patience guidance , my problems gradually disappear and what once seemed impossible now seems very possible.  One of the key points of Jeff’s method of teaching is that as you do the weekly routines, not only do you develop new habits, but you begin to clearly understand what is correct and what is not. There is no more mystery!  Just watch your tongue, use a lot of air-- and  be patient.

Michael Gribbroek

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