I was intrigued by teaching around 8 years old when I watched my sister, Joanne, teach voice when I visited her in Los Angeles. I will never forget watching and hearing the improvement in this one lady she taught for several years. My school friends didn't believe me when I told them my sister taught Wonder Woman. The lady was Lynda Carter and her lessons were definitely before the Wonder Woman TV Series.
Joanne had studied with a famous vocal coach named Seth Riggs that had moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s. Seth would send Joanne students and another one of them was a lady that sang for Bob Hope. When Bob heard the improvements he asked what she had been doing and who her teacher is. Soon after Bob asked Joanne to sing and go on tour. Joanne's first husband, Ron Papile, told me that Bob Hope would visit their house and have dinner with them often to consult Joanne's musical opinion on various things. Joanne once called me from Air Force One with President Ford and Bob Hope on the plane.
I started trumpet in 4th grade and in 5th grade began private lessons with a great player and sweet Christian guy named Chuck Brady. Mr. Brady was Principal Trumpet of the Bakersfield Symphony after resigning from 6 years as Principal Trumpet of the National Symphony in Washington, DC. Prior to that Mr. Brady had recorded some monumental recordings with Igor Stravinsky and Bruno Walter that opened the doors for future players like Malcolm McNab, Tom Stevens, and other LA trumpet players. Mr. Brady was a role model of musical precision. In the 6 years I studied with him I never heard him crack a note or play out of tune and everything was beautiful and effortless sounding. However, the mechanics of my playing were not addressed in our 6 years together and Mr. Brady encouraged me to study with Claude Gordon to do many of the things he had practiced when younger.
After an accident that broke off my front tooth I decided to visit my first Claude Gordon Brass Camp in 1984. I saw firsthand the amazing results for so many players. So, I begged my mom for lessons with Claude Gordon. My adoptive parents were 54 and 55 when adopting me and had both lived through the Great Depression. My adoptive dad, Mason Purtle, died my 9th grade year and never would have paid for lessons with Claude Gordon or approved of the 100 mile trip to Los Angeles. However, the timing was right and my mom supported the expense and effort and I would get out of high school early to make the trip with my mom.
My excitement to play the trumpet better was only overpowered by my love of teaching and figuring things out and helping people. I saw that in Joanne and I saw it with Claude and all their students. I graduated from California State University Northridge with a degree in trumpet performance but I really learned how to play and teach from ten years of private lessons with Claude Gordon. I also taught and assisted at several of Claude's camps and was one of a few to take an intense pedagogy class directly from Claude and studied privately until shortly before his death.
Trudy died in 2004 and Joanne died in 2005. In 2015 I discovered that Joanne was actually my biological mother and my grandparents, Mason and Trudy Purtle, had adopted me as their son. In 2019 I met my biological father for the first time too and now have a fun relationship with him and newly discovered family. God's providence has protected and guided me and I'm thankful and want to give back to students what has been given to me.