Syllabus For Jazz Trumpet Studio Fall 2013

Jazz Trumpet TPA through TPR

Office: Foster Bldg. Rm. 306B
Phone: 212-219-0577
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Hi All,

Welcome to my trumpet studio for my third year at the Frost School Of Music. This syllabus for the new academic year retains most of the aspects of last year’s syllabus with changes that reflect the continuing evolution and refinement of my teaching concepts and practice.

Along with outlining my studio policies and requirements below, I’d also like to give you a glimpse of my teaching philosophy and the general areas that I feel important to cover in the course of my jazz trumpet teaching. Of course, the specifics will vary according to each of your needs and particular interests. However, the topics below address basic issues of playing the horn and improvisational fluency that apply to all students interested in a serious engagement with the jazz trumpet idiom. As such, I will expect all of my students to apply themselves to this material.


Last year’s hybrid group/individual lesson structure was a definite success in my view. I’d like to retain this structure for this year. Our activity as a studio will consist of these aspects:

1. Regular individual lessons

2.Group lessons/”shedding sessions”, where core requirements in applied jazz technique and other aspects will be addressed in small groups of compatible level. We will also work on general musicianship issues such as rhythm, reading, and so forth as applied to the trumpet.

3.Master classes/seminars on different topics, especially pertaining to style, historical perspectives on jazz trumpet and related fields. We will also cover special topics such as recording techniques.

Lessons, groups, and seminars will be broken down as follows (for 2 and 3 credit students):

10 one hour private lessons (1 credit students will receive 5 one hour lessons and the group lessons/seminars below)

14 weeks of group lessons (1 hour each). counting as 3.5 lessons (14 divided by the 4 in each group)

12 hours of seminar, counting as 1 lesson

This is the equivalent (by my reckoning) of 14.5 hours of private instruction. Based on last year’s experience, we will get much more out of it than by just private lessons alone!

Group lessons will be organized according to level, based on evaluation at the beginning each semester at the placement auditions. These groups will meet every week; when I’m away touring they will either be coached by a teaching assistant or in the case of the most advanced group by rotation among group members.

There will be six of the seminar sessions per semester, at 2 hours length each. Sessions will take place roughly every other week, the exact schedule and time TBD during the first week of classes. Scheduling difficulties for the seminar sessions was a problem last year, resulting in less sessions being held than intended. I do not want to repeat that shortfall for this year, and I will be working hard on finding a regular time for these sessions that the whole studio can make. These sessions are not extra or voluntary, but an integral part of the curriculum!  

My lesson slots will start promptly on the hour and end at 55 minutes past the hour, giving me a 5 minute turnaround between lessons to make notes and get students packed and unpacked. PLEASE BE ON TIME!

I will expect all my students to keep a practice log covering what’s practiced and for how long. This will be used for both the individual and the group lessons. A Moleskine pocket music notebook works well for this purpose. I’d  also like you to record your practice sessions at least once a week and be able to send me excerpts from them to help me assess your progress in specific areas.

I have a very active performing schedule so I will need to reschedule lessons at times. I will expect each of you to provide me with reliable alternative times for your lesson so I can plan ahead with you.

I have set up a Facebook page for communication between all of us at: . I will use this as an adjunct to regular email in informing you about schedule changes as well of all things of interest to the studio. This will not be a replacement for email so keep communicating to email messages, please!

There is also a webpage on my own site set up for the studio in case Facebook is inadequate for any of our virtual needs. The address for that page is: 


You will be graded on 1) effort, 2) progress, and 3) completion to the best of your ability of assigned work. Factors such as unexcused absences from lessons, chronic lateness to lessons, unpreparedness, not being warmed up for a lesson, and other indicators of lack of serious intent will also affect your grade. Missing a lesson without an prior excuse will result in the lowering of your semester grade by one half a letter (e.g. from A to A-).


•A firm hold on technique, with a balanced approach to development and maintenance of tone, flexibility, range, velocity, articulative fluency and versatility, along with all other aspects of playing the trumpet at a virtuoso level. Methodology and materials from the orchestral tradition will be adapted to work organically in a jazz/studio music context of performance alongside my own materials and contemporary technical approaches.

•Comprehension of a wide variety of styles. The jazz tradition will be the central focus to work outward from in gaining understanding of the role of the trumpet in other idioms:

◦Afro Cuban/salsa

◦Other Afro-Caribbean styles


◦Other Hispano-American styles

◦N American R&B, funk and pop

◦Afro Beat and Afro-pop

◦Other world musics

◦Western Classical Music

•The jazz tradition will also be the central focus in terms of achieving a high level of improvisational prowess and mastering the repertoire associated with it. The core of my improvisation teaching is to achieve fluency in the so called “bebop” idiom, with an emphasis on spontaneous construction of clear melodic lines on all varieties of harmonic structures and forms.  More contemporary approaches to improvising and earlier jazz idioms will not be neglected, however!

My philosophy is that understanding bebop* gives you the tools to play any idiom of contemporary jazz music with the most efficiency, creativity, and flexibility (see below). Since the term “bebop” has become so generalized and even misused, let me be clear about my use of the word. When I use the term “bebop”, I am referring to the innovations of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro, and other important musicians of the classic bebop period. Understanding bebop in context as the most dynamic and fruitful musical and cultural phenomenon of the last 100 years is also crucially important in mastering the tools necessary to achieve distinction in one’s eventual idiom, no matter what it is, in my opinion.

◦Repertoire, as stated above, is an integral aspect of the goal, and the aim is to equip the student with a comprehensive knowledge of classic and contemporary jazz tunes as well as important repertoire from other related idioms. The goal is to be able to play the core repertoire with deep understanding as well as to know the widest possible selection of other important repertoire.

•Today’s musician must be comfortable and adept with technology, in particular with recording technology. We will integrate recording techniques into the studio with the goal of every student becoming able to record and produce their own overdub session in a home studio format to professional quality. Tracking, editing, and mixing techniques will be demonstrated and learned. Along with the recording techniques themselves, the philosophy of self-production as a session musician will be explored; that is, how to give an artist (client) what they want while still being able to express your own personality as a creative musician.

•Teaching – Obviously, teaching will become a significant part of the career path for most of you. Along with the natural transmittal of teaching techniques as a part of the teacher – student relationship, we will explore ways of integrating pedagogy into the student’s overall musicality to make teaching natural and easy.


Some of you (especially upperclassmen/women and grad students) have certain warmups and practice routines already established. I don’t intend to change things that already work for you, or try to convert you to a particular “‘system” of playing. Rather, I want to be result driven in terms of developing what you need technically to do justice to the music and to be able to express yourself on the horn. Certain routines and exercises have helped my own playing, and in turn I’d like to share some of these with you according to how I think they might help your playing.

One area where I consistently see a deficiency in my students is in the area of flexibility. The mastery of both slow and fast flexibilities (“lip slurs”) and the cultivation of the tongue arch compression technique used to execute them is crucial in being able to have the trumpet do your bidding. I will be focusing on this extensively with most or all of you!

Other techniques that have helped my playing and are core components of my approach to the instrument include breath attacks, buzzing exercises, flow (moving long tone) studies and bending exercises.


I will be giving you handouts of exercises I have devised myself (Studio Book), as well as excerpts of exercises compiled from different sources that will be used in our work together.

I STRONGLY encourage you to obtain these methods if you don’t already have them:

Max Schlossberg – Daily Drills and Exercises

James Stamp – Warm-Ups and Studies, Supplementary Studies

Earl Irons – 27 Groups of Exercises (Southern Music)

Charles Colin – Advanced Lip Flexibilites

James Thompson – The Buzzing Book with play along CD (Editions Bim)

Anthony Plog – Method Vol. 4 Tonguing Exercises and Vol. 5 Lip Flexibilites – (Balquhiddher)

Arbans – Complete Method (Vizzutti Edition)

Herbert Clarke – Technical Studies

Chris Kase – 21st Century Technical Studies

John Daniel – Special Studies


I define this as what cultivates the player’s ability to negotiate musical space (the contour of the musical line) and time (extension/resolution/rhythm) efficiently, developing procedural memory and freeing up processing power for higher level creative decisions. The mastering of specific routines at different levels dealing with the expression of tonality and control of scale permutation will be a major component of our work here. This material will also be an application and extension of the technique work discussed above. Transposing and mastering these routines in all keys/tonalities with a high level of accuracy, beautiful sound, and precise (and varied) articulation or seamless legato will be the goal at each level of difficulty and routine.


Zeroing in on and refining this indispensable process will be our other major work here. I want to make my philosophy clear – a prime goal in my teaching is to have my students engage with the jazz trumpet tradition in a meaningful and thorough way. Understanding how meaning is codified, developed, and transformed within a well defined, unitary style system such as “straight ahead jazz” or “bebop” is key to gaining the insight into how styles and traditions work in a more general sense. In my opinion, the student cannot sidestep this process and still come out the other end as a truly viable jazz player, even in 2012.

We will be working on this through the memorization of improvised solos and jazz compositions, working directly from the source recordings without mediation (written scores). Emphasis will be placed on good process, moving from singing along with the recording to working out the material with the horn and then being able to play along with the recording (often at altered speed), only at the end writing down the musical passages. This will be a developmental and skill building activity in the two most important areas for a jazz musician: memory and ear training.

I will require three (3) solos to be learned in the above fashion per semester. This is approximately one solo every 4 weeks. I’ll assign the solos as we go along, or in some cases the student can suggest a solo to learn.


We will be working from a list of between 100 and 200 songs that I’m compiling. This list will be made up of what I consider core repertoire important both in didactic terms and for the player’s viability on the bandstand. Emphasis will be given to learning these tunes from primary sources, either recorded or the composer’s original written version (no Real Books allowed!)

I will require 12 new tunes per semester to be memorized (both melody and changes). I will assign tunes at the beginning of each semester. These tunes will be part of your jury requirements.


Some of you, especially the graduate students, are playing at a high level already. Consequently, you may have worked through many of the issues I touch upon above. As I check you out to address any holes you have in your game so far, I will also be working with you to broaden your scope and maximize your viability as a modern improvising trumpeter. Some of the possible areas that can be addressed are:

Afro- Caribbean Music, Trumpet Style and Playing in Clave; Rhythmic and Melodic Lexicons

Advanced and Contemporary Jazz Trumpet Lexicons

20th Century Classical Resources in Jazz Improvisation

Intensive Study and Content Assimilation of a Master Player

Dialoguing With the Jazz Trumpet Tradition – a 21st Century Approach

The Professional Trumpeter and The Home Studio – Recording and Editing Techniques for Fun and Profit

Improvisation Practice with a  Compositional Sensibility

OUTLINE OF STUDIO TOPICS Version 1.5 – Aug. 14, 2013

Development of Overall Technical Perspective

Tone Production
Open and relaxed
Compression (“wedge” & yoga complete breath)
Going from note to note (flexibility or tonguing)
Integration of improvisational technique into warmups and developmental exercises like flexibility and tonguing studies
Adaptation of traditional orchestral methods and methodology:
Stamp & Thompson, Stevens (the “Schlossberg nexus”)
Other flexibility studies (Irons, Plog)
Tonguing (Arbans, Plog, others)
Exploration of other concepts appropriate to specialized areas
Extreme upper register
Extended techniques

Applied Technique

Diatonic Scale Exercises and Level Routines
I will be compiling a series of exercises for each Level Routine. Being able to play each routine fluently in all 12 keys (or starting pitches) will be a benchmark for judging level and progress, and will be part of semester goals and jury requirements.
Modal Digital Patterns (example:1235 or 5321)
Vocabulary Patterns (ii-V patterns, for instance)
“Bebop Scale” Exercises (Barry Harris teaching concepts)
downward dominant scales with added passing tones
major and minor diminished (“major bebop”, “minor bebop”scales)
enclosures (“bow on the box”)
the pickup and using the triplet
the pivot
Pentatonic Patterns and Concepts
Fourth Structure related Line Exercises and Concepts (related to #5 above)
Symmetrical Scales
Diminished, understood as both traditional (whole/half) and octatonic (half/whole)
Whole Tone
Augmented Scale (symmetrical 1 1/2 step + 1/2 step)
Widening Intervals and the Line (displacement)
A minimum of three trumpet solos will be “learned by heart” each semester.
Core répertoire to be mastered in sequence as part of jury requirements (to be assigned at the beginning of each semester).
A master repertoire list to codify core repertoire overall
Specific repertoire as related to ensembles
Goal of an informed and historical perspective of jazz trumpet styles
Style and historical perspective in related musical styles
Other Topics
Everyone who comes in contact with me as a student one way or another gets a healthy dose of clave consciousness, the organizing principle of Afro-Cuban music, salsa, and Latin jazz. My trumpet studio will be no exception!
Sight Reading
Ensemble and Section Playing
Recording Perspectives and Techniques

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