Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Brief History of Schools of Trumpet Playing

Trumpet playing around the world can be organized into various "schools." These schools often share many common traits and reflect important lineages of teachers. All serious students of the trumpet should have a good general understanding of these schools. 

This list is not intended as comprehensive or scholarly treatment of every important school, but rather a brief overview of major contributors to the art of trumpet playing (perhaps something you can read while waiting on your cappuccino in line at Starbucks). If you would like to dig deeper, I've provided a list of resources at the end. 

The French School 

A good place to start is the Paris Conservatory and its teachers. François Dauverné (1799–1874) was the first trumpet professor at the Conservatory and Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825–1889) was the first cornet professor. Arban’s highly influential book, today known as the Complete Conservatory Method or simply the Arban’s book, was originally titled Grande méthode complète pour cornet à pistons et de saxhorn and was first published in 1864 in Paris. 
Jean-Baptiste Arban
Other important French players from the 19th and early 20th centuries include Merri Franquin (1848–1934), Eugene Foveau (1886–1957), Sylvain Petit (1864–1925), among others. 

Maurice Andre (1933–2012) is one of the most important French trumpeters of the 20th and early 21st centuries, as well as one of the most important trumpeters of all time. He was a student of Raymond Sabarich (1909–1966). Pierre Thibaud (1929–2004) is another important 20th century French trumpeter, who played both jazz and classical music. 

The French school is marked by the strong influence of the cornet as well as artistry in solo playing. The French Solo de Concours tradition has given us a vast library of trumpet repertoire.  Today, the French School is often associated with a preference for C trumpet. It is also important to note that much of the 20th French trumpet music was written for trumpets with a smaller bore, as compared to today’s large bore instruments. 


A history of trumpet playing in the United Kingdom perhaps begins with Matthias Shore (d. 1700), a Sergeant Trumpeter and the patriarch of the Shore family. His duty was to issue performing licenses to trumpet players and drummers around the country. We know the Shore family had considerable musical and social influence as they accompanied the King of England on his trip to Holland in 1690. Matthias's children include William (trumpeter), Catherine (singer), and John (trumpeter). John Shore (1662–1752) was one of the most famous trumpeters of his day. He invented the tuning fork in 1711 and was a trumpeter for Henry Purcell and G. Handel. (There is a bit of confusion here as there appears to be two John Shores in England during this era. For more details, see Jeffrey Pulzer's ITG article cited at the end of this blog).

Later trumpet players included Ernest Hall, George Eskdale (1897
–1960), and Bernard Brown (1914–83).

One of the leading English trumpeters of the 20th century was Philip Jones (1928–2000), the leader of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble.  Jones was a student of Ernest Hall.

England is also home to the large British Brass Band tradition, and accordingly, the prominent use of the cornet and other conical-bore instruments.

In contrast with the French preference for the C trumpet, modern English trumpeters sometimes exhibit a preference for the B-flat trumpet. 

London Philharmonic trumpets using B-flat instruments

German/Austrian School 

Germany and Austria are home to some of the world’s greatest orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic. Accordingly, this part of the world is well known for outstanding orchestral trumpeting. Franz Dengler (18901963) was the principal trumpet in the Vienna Philharmonic and an important teacher. Another VP trumpeter, Helmut Wobisch (19121980) is known for his 1952 recording of the Haydn trumpet concerto, which led to its great revival.  

In the solo trumpet world, Adolf Scherbaum (19092000) was highly successful and a leader in the promotion of the use of piccolo trumpet. 

Many Germans came to the United States to find musical employment, including Christian Rodenkirchen (18581915), the principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the late 19th century. 

German and Austrian trumpeters, especially orchestral musicians, are well known for their preference for the rotary trumpet. 

The Russian School 

The Russian Trumpet School has connections and influences from Germany. The first trumpet professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory was a German trumpeter, Johann Metzdorff. Another important German trumpeter in Russia was Oskar Böhme (1870–1938) who performed in St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre for 24 years and also taught and played elsewhere in Russia.  

Theodor Richter was the first trumpet professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Another important Russian trumpet player is Karl Wilhelm Vasily Georgievich Brandt, whose 34 Orchestral Etudes (now public domain and easily accessible) remain influential around the world. 

According to Edward Tarr (in The Trumpet), the founder of the modern Russian trumpet school was Mikhail Tabakov (1877–1956). He had a famous pupil and assistant Timofei Dokschitzer (19212005), who today remains one of the most memorable and influential trumpet players. 
Timofei Dokschitzer
The Chicago School 

While this is a large and diverse school, the "Chicago" school of brass playing came from the brass players in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, especially those from the mid-to-late 20th century. These included: 

Arnold Jacobs (1915–1998), principal tuba of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1944–1988 and Professor of Tuba at Northwestern University. 

Adolph "Bud" Herseth (1921–2013), principal trumpet of the CSO from 1948–2001. 

Vincent Cichowicz
Vince Cichowicz (1927–2006), second trumpet in the Chicago Symphony and Professor of Trumpet at Northwestern University. 

Philip Farkas (1914–1992), principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (and previously the Cleveland and Boston Orchestras). 

Teachers in the "Chicago School" often prioritize the musical product as well as proper breathing mechanics. Arnold Jacobs's pedagogical approach summarized this with the phrase, "Song and Wind." According to Brian Fredrickson in Song and Wind, Arnold Jacobs was considered “the world’s foremost expert on the study of respiration.” Jacobs’s teaching went well beyond simply breathing, however, and included many important contributions to mental, physical, and artistic aspects of brass performance. There are many publications today available from the Chicago School which you can find at the end of this blog.  

Schlossberg School 

Max Sclossberg (1873–1936) was born in Libau, Latvia. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory with MarquardPutkammer and Adolph Sauer. He later moved to New York, first as a freelancer, and later as a member of the New York Philharmonic from 1910–1936. 
Max Sclossberg
According to Edward TarrMax Schlossberg was a master teacher of his time, with many students and professional players  seeking him out for lessons.  These included William VacchianoElden Benge, Charles Colin, Louis Davidson, Harry GlantzRenold Schilke, James Stamp, Harry James, and many others. 

His method book, Daily Drills and Technical Studies for Trumpet was published in 1937 and remains an important staple of the pedagogical repertoire. 

Vacchiano School 

William Vacchiano (1912–2005) was an American trumpeter player. He was born in Portland, Maine and was playing in the Portland Symphony by age 14. He was principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic for 31 years; initially appointed in 1935 as third/assistant principal trumpet, he was appointed principal trumpet in 1942 by Bruno Walter.   

He taught trumpet at the Julliard School from 1935–2002, as well as concurrent appointments at Mannes College of Music and Manhattan School of Music, and left behind a huge legacy of former students. Some of his most famous students have included Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Philip Smith, Charles Schlueterand Gerard Schwarz. 

Brian Shook's book, Last Stop, Carnegie Hall, is perhaps the most comprehensive guide to the life of William Vacchiano.
William Vacchiano 
James Stamp School 

James Stamp (1904–1985) was an American trumpet player. He was a member of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He later moved to California and played studio work in Hollywood. 

He is perhaps most well known for his book, Warm-ups + Studies, which was first published in 1978. These studies continue to be used as popular warm-ups and fundamental routines by players around the world. 

Stamp was an advocate of free-buzzing and mouthpiece playing. According to David Hickman (Trumpet Pedagogy, p. 201) James Stamp was "one of the first people to make lip buzzing an acceptable method of embouchure building." 

Prominent former students who are still living and teaching Stamp's methods include Malcolm McNab and Roy Poper. Stamp also taught Thomas Stevens, principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Bill Adam School 

William "Bill" Adam (1917–2013) was Professor of Trumpet at Indiana University. He studied with Herbert L. Clarke, Louis Maggio, and others. While he is today most known as a trumpet teacher, he actually held a master's degree in music theory from Eastman and taught in the public schools in Colorado. 

His notable former students have included Chris Botti, Randy Brecker, Pat Harbison, John Rommel, Karl Sievers, and Greg Wing. 

While he never published a book or article himself, Bill Adam's students -- who are perhaps the most devoted disciples of any trumpet school -- carry on his pedagogical approach and legacy. 

For a glimpse into the Adam approach, check out the transcript of his address to the International Trumpet Guild in 1975

Laurie Frink School 

Laurie Frink (1951–2013) was an American trumpet player who was especially well known for jazz trumpet playing and teaching. She performed with the Mel Lewis Orchestra, Maria Schneider Orchestra, and many others. She taught at the Manhattan School of Music, The New School, NYU,  and the New England Conservatory. Frink was especially well known for her diagnostic ability for physical issues on the trumpet, including the embouchure, facial muscles, etc. 
Laurie Frink
With John McNeil, she published Flexus: Trumpet Calisthenics for the Modern Improviser, which has become a very popular resource for trumpet players around the world. Frink was a student of Carmine Caruso, and this book and her teaching strongly reflect Caruso's influence.

Her noteworthy career received a full biography in the New York Times, which can be read here (external link) and Derek Ganong's dissertation is on the subject of her pedagogical method (link below).

Trumpet in China 

The central hub of trumpet teaching in China is the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.  The first trumpet teachers at the Central Conservatory were Bai Lin and Ji RuiKai.  Bai Lin is well known for his Lip Flexibilities book that was published in 1996 and used around the world. Currently, the trumpet teachers at the Central Conservatory are Dai Zhonghui and Chen Guang. 

With a growing number of professional orchestras, such as the National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA) Orchestra, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Guangzho Symphony Orchestra, and others, opportunities for trumpet players in China are on the rise. 

Through organizations like the China Trumpet Guild, China has been increasing its activity and visibility in the trumpet world. A growing number of Chinese students are traveling abroad to study trumpet in Europe and the United States. Rui Li became the first Chinese citizen to earn a DMA in trumpet performance, completing this degree at the University of Kentucky in 2015. Rui is currently a member of the NCPA orchestra in Beijing, performer on the Baroque natural trumpet, a consultant for Bill Pfund Trumpets, and a leading exponent of classical free improvisation. 
Chinese trumpeter Rui Li with conductor Zubin Mehta at an NCPA Orchestra concert in Beijing

Jazz Trumpet Schools 

The jazz trumpet world is vastly diverse, with much cross pollination and evolution, and there is not adequate space in this week's blog post to cover all of the important schools of jazz trumpet playing. If you're curious in this area, you might want to explore existing resources, such as this Jazz Trumpet Family Tree. (external link) 

Sources/For further reading: 

General History/Pedagogy 
Hickman, David A Compendium of Modern Teaching Techniques (Hickman Music Editions) 
Hickman, David, Trumpet Greats (Hickman Music Editions) 
Koehler, Elisa, Fanfares and Finesse: A Performer's Guide to Trumpet History and Literature (Indiana University Press)
Tarr, Edward, 
The Trumpet (Hickman Music Editions) 

Chicago School 
Cichowicz, Michael and Dulin, Mark, Vincent Cichowicz Long Tone Studies (Studio 259 Productions) 
Farkas, Phillip, The Art of Brass Playing (Wind Music) 
Farkas, Philip, The Art of Musicianship (Musical Publications) 
Fredrickson, Brian, Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind (Windsong Press) 

Vacchiano School 
Brian Shook, Last Stop, Carnegie Hall (University of North Texas Press) 

Other Resources 
Pulzer, Jeffrey. "The Shore Family," October 1976 International Trumpet Guild Journal.
Derek Ganong's dissertation on Laurie Frink:

Jason Dovel is associate professor of trumpet at the University of Kentucky and a Yamaha Performing Artist. He is host of the annual UK Summer Trumpet Institute held every June in Lexington, KY (USA).


Don Little said...

Thank you, Jason, for posting “A Brief History of Schools of Trumpet Playing.” In many ways this discourse goes beyond the trumpet to the other brass instruments. This will be very useful to all of my tuba class at the University of North Texas. Don

Bruce Cassidy said...

Fascinating! Thank you!

Jon said...

Thanks for this, Jason! Great info for newbies.

Jim Rotondi said...

If you have a Bill Adam school then you should probably have a Don Jacoby school.

Chris Magee said...


Chris Magee said...

Ernest Williams is also important here. Don Jacoby studied with Williams.

Reddogpt said...

You missed one of the most important, Herbert L. Clarke - Claude Gordon.

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

You missed Félix Désiré Ligner. One book. Many solos. First to describe the position of the tip of the tongue for the”KU.”

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and informative, but it would help if the major method books were also named. True, the trumpet method books are fragmented and often copies of eachother, but not named in the text. Also, what about the modern schools?