For me, as a mature player, I had become somewhat disconnected from mainstream trumpet pedagogy for many years, although I continued to play & work on my music. Faced with a growing backlog of brass playing fundamentals & mechanics questions, and wanting to attain elusive higher levels, I came to Jeff to get informed, back on track, a fresh start, routined, to let go & start from scratch. I wanted to work with this accredited master & his decades of instructional perspective & experience on the physical demands & remedial methodologies that universally benefit brass players.
Working with Jeff’s weekly supervision these past few years has been a constant stream of revelations in brass playing. He switches up my drill assignments & routines like a doctor, using selected exercises from 150 years of publications - Saint-Jacome, Clarke, Smith, Irons, Arban, Gordon, Colin, Gekker or Bertie, to mention a few. He sprinkles anecdotes & living examples when needed, or simply listens with a watchful patient demeanor as I grind it out through unfamiliar techniques & mechanicals. When he thinks I’m ready, we move on to another level, another variation, another difficulty to overcome. His pace with me is painstaking relaxed yet focused. Maybe his example of patience to leave me doing certain exercises for weeks even months at a stretch, as slow and as long as necessary, even long after I thought I could do no more with them, has been the most rewarding to me. Exercises & daily drills seem to morph & expand themselves in so many ways, take on deeper meaning, unexpected benefits & explorations, a constant mirror & window to see into my own sound & production, to finally understand the tongue, chest, fingers, my body, make ever more fine adjustments to grow my own concept of sound. I work separately on my harmony & melodic approach through my work in jazz so much more informed & ready from the critical brass playing fundamentals Jeff teaches.
Jeff teaches that there are so many intangibles & personal feelings, it’s too much to fully comprehend or be thinking about too literally. Ultimately I don’t want to think about it at all when performing. He teaches in the way all great teachers do: give your body a chance learn how do what it needs to do by entrusting myself to the exercises & writings developed so long ago by the masters that came before us. Though the notes on the page remain unchanged, they simultaneously connect me to the past, both my own & the masters, & teach me to teach myself something new. They never fail me so long as I remain respectful. They’re just loaded with collective collaborative genius, and I just feel so lucky to have Jeff’s guidance & help to participate, to be on the path, wherever & however far it takes me.